Chessable Pricing Strategy Discussion

By David Kramaley / On / In Start-up life

Hi everyone, the launch of 100 Endgames Video brought a lot of community interaction and amazing feedback our way. Many of you absolutely love the new video course and how accessible John makes the material. This course took an incredible amount of work from John and the rest of the team and we truly thank you for all the support.

With all of the wonderful comments, the course also sparked a few conversations around pricing. Some have suggested that the price is above other video courses in the market. Others have asked us to shed some light on our pricing strategy. We’ve always been as transparent as possible, so we are happy to offer some insight from our team.

For background, we at Chessable have a goal of trying to create the gold standard of content while allowing chess students to improve in a more efficient and fun way. We also want to help more chess professionals to make a living out of the game that we all love. We are proud that Chessable has just crossed 100,000 registered users, and that we have managed to bring back top talent to chess, having hundreds of independent authors and publishers on our platform.

The challenge is that a lot of chess is completely free. Hence the market that is ready to pay anything at all is smaller than it should/could be. For a long time, people working in chess, other than the top 10, spent their whole life perfecting their craft only to be severely underpaid. With this, chess has to overcome certain challenges. For instance, how do you hire people away from competitive industries where they can receive 1.5x-4x the salary a chess company can pay?

High quality standards take a lot of time and resources. It takes months of work by top chess professionals. There are also dedicated teams of people at Chessable that provide feedback, edit, post-produce the content and provide after-service support. This process ensures that we can add value to our customer base who purchase the products. This also means we can confidently offer a 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee.

With major works like 100 Endgames Video, which took hundreds of hours of collective labor to produce, and was years in the planning, the extra effort is magnified. In such a project, there are many stakeholders, lawyers, production teams, content teams, rights owners, etc. If not priced right, such popular courses may not get created in the first place. The right price often just covers salaries and costs. Forget profits.

We also release plenty of free material. 100+ free courses to be more precise. There also always is the option to get only the MoveTrainer course and buy additional video content later or not at all. However, everything that we release, whether free or not, we try to maintain a very high quality standard.

On the technology side, it can be costly to develop code, especially code that deals with people’s copyrighted work and livelihoods. With regards to R&D updates, we realise not much has been visible lately. This is because the majority of the team is stuck in trying to complete the full rewrite to MoveTrainer 2.0. We are very very close to release. Many beta testers will be happy to attest, the amount of work that the team has been doing there. 2.0 will allow for iOS and Android apps to be released.

We would love to make cheaper prices happen today, however, the reality is that cheaper prices come with bigger market sizes and scale. All included subscriptions are often not enough, especially at small scale. In fact, technology often initially increases the price of goods, until economies of scale have been reached.

Chessable has never turned a profit yet, as part of our reinvestment strategy for growth. Despite that, thanks to our pricing, we have sustained a community of hundreds of people between part-time and full-time, so that they can do what they love without struggling for income.

Finally, I’ve seen companies go under or really struggle because they didn’t price things right. We don’t want to follow suit. We are here to stay. But here is a promise, if we can reach scale, we will, of course, pass some of the savings of scale to our customers.

I hope this helps shed some clarity into our line of thinking and thank you for all your comments. Here is a link to a forum thread where we can discuss more.

MoveTrainer 2.0 – Open Beta

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news

Dear Chessable members,

MoveTrainer 2.0 Beta is here! But before you head over to take a look, please read the few paragraphs below. It’s important to highlight what kind of “Beta” this is, what MoveTrainer 2.0 is, and where it is heading.

First of all, perhaps unlike traditional open betas, ours is not yet replacing the default site. Instead, it is open, but only open to those willing to swap their Chessable study at https://www.chessable.com with https://mt2.chessable.com. It’s important to highlight this, the new MoveTrainer 2.0 (mt2) site is not yet ready to replace the old site (mt1) because mt1 is still more complete and stable.

Our goal with mt2 was a simple one: we wanted to re-work everything underneath the hood so that complex features became possible. Mt1 was built with old technology, whereas mt2 uses powerful newer technology.

Because of the newer tech, features like offline, resizeable boards, dark mode, new mobile iOS/Android app etc, become a lot easier to release. However, before we can start launching the new features, first we have to complete the rewriting of all existing features which has been a process that has taken quite some time.

We feel we are nearly there! New features, like an improved settings panel, are already becoming a reality. Try it out, there may be a new setting or two you really appreciate (some are still experimental and may be removed!).

New Settings Panel

There are other features, almost ready for you to play around with, that are undergoing the final stages of testing now. It is only but a few more steps before we fully complete the rewrite and hopefully a short-ish time before mt2 becomes the default site we all use and love. 

Meanwhile, if you want to take a peek and see if you are ready for mt2, or if mt2 is ready for you, please head over to https://mt2.chessable.com

If you have some feedback, we are all ears: https://www.chessable.com/discussion/thread/168933/open-beta-feedback-thread/ and  https://www.chessable.com/discussion/movetrainer-20-feedback/10/

Note: Mt1 and Mt2 use the same study data, so whatever you do on mt2 will affect mt1 and vice-versa.

 

The Sale of a Lifetime

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Start-up life

Dear Chessable members,

Today we announce the “Sale of a Lifetime” and a new 15% discount for PRO members (1yr+). Chessable pioneered the concept of a “Lifetime membership” in the chess world, and it has been fantastic, with hundreds of you backing us over the past few years. Thank you. Your usernames and profile photos shall forever be displayed in our About Us page, right next to our team.

Slightly over a year ago, I hinted that we were thinking about removing Lifetime as an option, and after a full year of thinking about it and all the hard at work we’ve put into MoveTrainer 2.0, we are finally taking this step. This is your last chance to upgrade to a Lifetime membership.

Some of you may be wondering, why are we doing this? Well, the answer is simple. Chessable is building for the future. We are here to stay for the next decade and more. We want to make a sustainable, useful and fantastic service that everyone can appreciate.

As we keep developing the platform and adding to the benefits of PRO, Lifetime was simply becoming a deal too good to be true. We cannot promise it for much longer, and we will only have our standard yearly and two-year deals after this sale is over.

With the full year of work we’ve done on PRO, there are many more features coming, many of them built especially for PRO. Many of you have asked for this, so today we’ve launched a 15% discount on select courses for PRO members only.

We aim to add more select courses in the near future, so that you may enjoy a discount year-round. PRO will keep getting better and better, and we will keep adding more and more benefits to it through 2020 and beyond. For example, offline mode, resizeable board, better study feeds/stats, and more!

So there it is, your last chance to buy Lifetime PRO is here, and at our great old price of $299 + tax (if applicable). We’ve frozen the price for Lifetime PRO despite just announcing a price increase on all the other packages. See you around on the leaderboards (and maybe the About Us page 😉 )

PS.- This announcement coincides with the official launch of MoveTrainer 2.0 Open Beta today, but more info on this tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Chessable PRO Price Changes

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Start-up life

Dear Chessable members,

Today, we are announcing a change in our pricing structure of PRO. The Chessable PRO membership launched in 2017, and we’ve kept the same price since then. In this time, we’ve added to, and improved PRO. In this new year, we have huge plans for it.

Today, it is time for a price adjustment that will allow us to keep investing heavily in the development of our beloved platform. Our basic monthly package will become $11.99 instead of $9.99. Our yearly package will be $74.99 instead of $59.99, and our two-year package will be $114.99 instead of $94.99.

It’s important to note, that if you have an active monthly or yearly subscription, you can keep your old rate forever, provided you do not cancel the active subscription. Please note, price freezing will not apply to non-auto recurring promotional packages (e.g. if you got a promotional offer where you got 3 years for the price of 2).

Some of the things you have to look forward to as PRO are:

  1. a 15% discount on select items in our store, year-round. This discount does not stack with other offers. We aim to build and expand on our catalogue of selections from today onwards.
  2. Offline mode for your courses – free accounts will have access to one offline course, while PRO will have it limited only by your device storage. Offline mode is expected later in the year.
  3. Smarter, more in-depth learning stats and data (late 2020).


Some of the things that your PRO membership has helped facilitate:

  1. we will release a Chessable interface in your language in the next few months. First languages planned are German and Spanish.
  2. we will release a resizeable chessboard, and potentially board themes.
  3. we will release a Dark Mode.
  4. we will release Chessable mobile apps later this year.

 

The team and I will continue to work hard to make Chessable the best platform for chess education out there, and your ongoing support is hugely appreciated. Thank you for helping us make this happen.

Happy new year, 2019 year in review + MoveTrainer 2.0 update

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Start-up life

Dear Chessable learners,

From myself and the entire team, we would like to send you the warmest and best wishes for 2020. We wish you a happy and prosperous 2020. May your goals and dreams all be a step closer to being fulfilled this year.

I also wanted to have a little look at what we achieved together in 2019:

  1. We’ve grown from 50,000 to 90,000 members;
  2. We’ve gone from 17.3 million positions mastered to 43.7 million;
  3. We are well on our way towards building the world’s largest interactive digital chess library, with new high-profile authors joining us every single month. We’ve doubled our catalogue size in the last year alone to 300+ titles and 2020 is set to be even bigger;
  4. We’ve doubled our team size, with up to 30 people involved in helping us deliver Chessable to you;
  5. We’ve launched MoveTrainer 2.0 in Closed Beta, with Open Beta expected in early 2020;
  6. We’ve completed stage one of our re-brand/re-design;
  7. We’ve joined the PlayMagnus group of companies, giving us access to more resources and ensuring we continue to build an amazing tool for students, coaches, parents, chess masters, authors and everyone else who makes up our wonderful learning community.


Not everything has been positive, of course, like with any growing company we have some growing pains. Some of you did not like the new color scheme, for example. However, once MoveTrainer 2.0 is completed, we will be able to offer at least one alternative color scheme. Dark mode is coming soon! Apps are coming soon!

Of course, speaking of 2.0, it has taken us a little bit longer than we originally anticipated. However, this is because the new system is being built with more robust technology. This will allow us to have fewer bugs, more features, and generally a better experience.

While there have been a few hiccups, we hope that our genuine motivation in building the best chess learning tool and community has at all times shone through. We want you to know we will continue to work super hard in 2020 to make it an even more memorable year.

Little spoiler alert, we are expecting a MoveTrainer 2.0 open beta this very month. Thank you to all of you who have helped us test and improve it during closed beta. It’s almost here!

Getting ready for a BIG upgrade: We hope you like our new look

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Start-up life

Dear Chessable members,

Today we are happy to bring you a couple of upgrades and an update of our progress on MoveTrainer 2.0 and apps.

First things first, we’ve upgraded our servers. The new setup allows for faster response times and a smoother experience. This will be important especially as the site keeps growing.

We always try to minimise downtime during upgrades, as we do not want to interfere with your study habits. If our downtime has affected your streak please contact us (hello [at] chessable.com) and we will help you out.

Today we also released our “halfway re-brand”. We touched up our colours and changed our logo. We are using a fresher, more modern and brighter blue which we feel reflects the spirit of the site better.

We re-designed the header to try to use space better on all different screen sizes. There may be a few kinks (e.g. mobile header a bit too thick, will change), but we wanted to ship early and release. Releasing early allows us to polish up and improve with your feedback. The rest of the re-design will go live within the next few weeks.

We all know that change isn’t easy, and many of us will miss the old layout. If you fall into that category, we ask for your support, please give it some time, it may grow on you. Of course, please do submit your feedback as for some of your dislikes may already be on the to-do list, or maybe you’ve found a new bug that needs squashing.

The new site is “part released”, we are taking it by stages. The rest of the layout update is due in the next couple of weeks. We love our fresh new header that utilises the full screen size.

Please note that the new layout is key to some important milestones. Mainly it is needed to release MoveTrainer 2.0 and the set of features we envision to work only with the new layout. E.g. flexible/re-sizeable chess board, different chess board colours, dark mode, etc.

Speaking of MoveTrainer 2.0 and the set of apps that we plan to release with it, progress is good. We are now in a period of Alpha testing and envision a closed and open beta in the next few weeks. Once MoveTrainer 2.0 launches on the web, it will be a couple of months until the first app is ready.

If you are interested in the closed beta please e-mail our customer support address, shared earlier in the post. Thank you everyone for your continued support of our work. We look forward to continue to work hard to make improving your chess more fun and efficient. 

For the re-brand feedback, you may leave your comments within this thread in our forums: https://www.chessable.com/discussion/thread/149774/new-layout-feedback/

Chessable joins Play Magnus and chess24 – yes, it’s true!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news

Dear Chessable members, today is simply unbelievable! We are delighted to announce that Chessable has become part of the Play Magnus & chess24 family.

That’s right, The World Champion himself, Magnus Carlsen, is now part of our Chessable family! It’s been an exciting and incredible journey, and we wanted to thank you for being part of it. 

Magnus Carlsen holds the trophy aloft
Magnus Carlsen holds the trophy aloft

We are on a mission to make learning and improving your chess as easy, efficient and fun as possible. When I told the team, I compared this milestone to climbing a tall mountain. What happened when the first adventurers reached such peaks? Other than the sheer joy and excitement they must have felt, I imagine they immediately saw taller and exciting mountains behind it.

Play Magnus and chess24 believe in us!

We’ve reached the first summit, and it has been incredibly rewarding and simply amazing. The team is filled with joy, but we all also know a lot of work remains to be done. We’ve challenged ourselves to continue to make Chessable better and better. We have big dreams and are working hard to realise them. We are working on Android and iOS apps, as well as a new web-app. We are working on a redesign of the site. We are launching amazing courses and continually improving their user-friendliness.

And yes, we do work as well
And yes, we do work as well

Having joined PlayMagnus and chess24, we are now part of an industry leader who is able to contribute significant resources to help us achieve our ambitions. While we see many synergies and benefits, we would highlight that they are providing £500,000 additional funding to accelerate further development, adding to the £200,000 we previously raised. Additionally, Chessable will have access to their highly regarded content creators so that we can continue to build out our growing library of titles. More importantly, they are also extremely passionate about our mission and will help us push hard to realise it.

While extra funding is instrumental, there are some things money can’t buy. Your support has been a crucial part in helping us get here. Each recommendation to a friend, each piece of feedback, all of it helps us create the perfect learning environment for you. We are forever indebted to each one of you who believes in the Chessable mission, from authors to students, from coaches to parents, every single one of you. Thank you.

Your ongoing support will be vital for the challenges that lay ahead. Let’s climb these new peaks together. But first, let’s rejoice and enjoy this moment. The future is bright, and Chessable will become all it was dreamt up to be. Hurrah!

FAQ

Does this mean I will now have to communicate with chess24/Play Magnus instead of Chessable?

Everything about Chessable will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Except that, our design, UX/UI are getting a touch up to make your experience with Chessable even better.

When will you finally release those apps?

Certain things in the past few months have been slowing down our progress. However, with the new funding, we are now moving faster than ever before. We’ve already added three new developers to the team in just a week (!). We expect early versions of the apps to be available in just a few months.

Where can I chat to you about it?

There is a great thread on our discussion forums: https://www.chessable.com/discussion/thread/128651/congratulations-to-chessable/

Sorry if we can’t reply to all your lovely messages and questions, we try to, but a ton of work is going on these days! 🙂

Chessable Spring 2019 Update

By David Kramaley / On / In Start-up life

Dear Chessable learners,

It’s been a busy but absolutely fantastic start to the year for us! We’ve had legends of chess film at our studios for you, like GM Harikrishna, GM Aagaard, and GM Shankland. And guess what, we’ve released more courses in the first four months of 2019 than in the entirety of 2018!

While that was going on, the team has also grown from four full-timers and seven part-timers in 2018, to eight full-timers and probably 14+ part-timers. Big thanks to the team and big thanks to you for helping us continue to achieve ever greater heights. With your continued support, in just three months we’ve ballooned from 17 million positions learned by you to a staggering 28 million! Wow.

Before I go on, It’s time for a little hip hip hooray and a special sale on our courses, and of course, a PRO sale. Enjoy!

Lately, when you write to us, a recurring question we get asked is about the news of MoveTrainer 2.0. We announced it at the beginning of the year and it’s now been a few months. Therefore, I thought I’d give you a little bit of an update on what’s going on at Chessable HQ.

We’ve had two developers working on MoveTrainer 2.0 for you since February when we kicked off the project. One more has joined in May to give us more speed. We expect yet another one to start contributing in a month or two once we’ve cleared some other top priorities. We still fully expect to release the shiny new software sometime later this year, perhaps Autumn (Fall? 🙂 )

A side effect of this allocation of resources to MoveTrainer 2.0 is that currently, progress is a tad slower, but fret not, as always, we are still all ears and making things happen to the existing site! For instance, we recently brought you Cyclical Review and a revamp of our most popular course on the site. We never stop listening to our users, we never stop building, so please, keep that feedback coming!

And remember, when we are finally done with the MoveTrainer 2.0 update, not only will we be able to release apps on iOS and Android, but we are building the groundwork so that we can implement highly requested features like dark mode, resizeable boards, offline mode!

So if you have taken a peek at Chessable lately and did not notice anything new going on (other than new awesome courses), now you know why. We are hard at work behind the scenes, making sure we bring MoveTrainer 2.0 to you as soon as possible.

We’ll try to update you again soon, meanwhile, wishing you a great rest of the month.

P.S. To celebrate, we are also holding a Spring themed course sale and PRO sale.

P.P.S. Here is a BIG spoiler for you, tomorrow, we’ve got a classic book we’ve made interactive by just about the biggest name in chess coming out tomorrow. ENJOY!

Our most popular course, revamped: 100 Endgames You Must Know gets an update!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news

As some of our most dedicated students may know, 100 Endgames You Must Know was the very first print book “brought to life” by Chessable, back in July 2017.

It’s been almost two full years, and since then, over 2,500 of you have joined us on this amazing New In Chess course, including several strong masters like IM Kostya Kavutskiy and co-founder IM John Bartholomew himself.

At Chessable, we all have a soft spot for 100 Endgames You Must Know, and this is why it is one of the first courses to be revamped so that it is making the most of features available in 2019.

The final test

We’ve reduced the number of “informational” read-only lines from 171 to 128, and in their stead, we’ve carefully gone through and curated 47 new puzzles that will test your endgame knowledge. That’s right; the Final Test chapter is now a proper test. This wasn’t possible back in 2017 but today it is, and we hope you all take full advantage of it.

A look inside the Final Test chapter with the brand-new solvable exercises.

One idea on how to use the final test is to take it all in one sitting, save your timings and accuracy. Then, after some more review, restart your progress in that single chapter and try again. Did you improve? You should! Check it out.

Oh and for good measure, some of you had told us the introductory chapter was sorely missed. It’s now part of the Chessable course, together with six introductory, trainable exercises, increasing the course’s instructional word count by a full 10,000 words!

As a final note, I just want to say thanks to all the students who support our work and make updates like this possible. We hope this is the first of many. There are a few other courses released during our “youth” that could be even better. But make no mistake, even the older version of the 100 Endgames course was rated 4.79 out of 5 stars by our students, can we start edging closer to a perfect five as we update the courses? Only time will tell! Enjoy.

PS.- Not a student yet? Find Jesus de la Villa Garcia’s 100 Endgames You Must Know by following this link.

Cyclical Review: The Woodpecker Method feature you can use on ANY tactics course + custom reps!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chess improvement, Chessable news, Learning chess

Back in September when we launched The Woodpecker Method, we were excited at the prospect of allowing you to study with the exact method recommended by GM Axel Smith and GM Hans Tikkanen.

However, it proved to be a slightly tricky feature with a lot of changes to the legacy code, which meant it would take just a tad longer than we anticipated. So we launched a stretch goal, if 1,000 of you signed up to study The Woodpecker Method, we’d bring the feature to life. And you guys did.

Fast-forward a few months and the feature is here; we are calling it, “Cyclical Review”. The best of all? Cyclical reviews are available to everyone, on any course, any time at no extra charge. You can now “woodpeck”, The Woodpecker Method course, or any course you wish. For instance, the new Tactics Time is proving a popular one, or perhaps the excellent Knights on the Attack (which is entirely free!).

Cyclical Review

To exemplify exactly how the feature works, I will add my comments along direct quotations of how The Woodpecker Method works (according to the authors).

Cycle 1: Solve as many exercises as you can manage in four weeks. These exercises are your set; and solving them brings you to the end of your first cycle.

The Woodpecker Method – GM Axel Smith & Hans Tikkannen, p26.

This bit is straightforward and has always been possible within Chessable. However, you had to keep track of your cycle end date manually. Now, you can set it within Chessable:

The new feature is under the “Schedule” option in your Course Options.

Once you’ve set your cycle end date, all your scheduled repetitions of the exercises you are solving will fall due on that date.

Once you get to your cycle end day the authors recommend you stop solving and take a short break; then you move on to Cycle 2.

Cycle 2: Solve the same set of exercises but faster: within two weeks is the target.

The Woodpecker Method – GM Axel Smith & Hans Tikkannen, p26.

Here is where Chessable will make your life easier. At this point after the end of your first cycle, your review button will turn green with all the exercises ready for review on your second cycle:

You can see at the end of my cycle I have 519 positions to review, this is because I only completed the easy section of the course and left the rest for later.

Once you click the green button and start your review session, this is now your second cycle. You can now commit to a second cycle end date by re-setting your cycle as described in the first image above. You could also wait to finish solving all your exercises before committing to a second cycle end date. It works both ways.

The authors then recommend that you repeat the above steps time and time again based on the following instructions:

Repeat steps 2 and 3, and repeat again. Aim to complete each cycle in half the number of days as the previous cycle (rounded up, when dealing with an odd number of days).

The Woodpecker Method – GM Axel Smith & Hans Tikkannen, p26.

By following the steps above within Chessable you can continue to solve in the manner recommended by the authors until you get to the last cycle, where the authors recommend that:

The Woodpecker Method has been completed when the full set of exercises has been solved entirely in one day – or after the 7th cycle, if you are unable to solve the full set in a day.

The Woodpecker Method – GM Axel Smith & Hans Tikkannen, p26.

You are free to set yourself a one day cycle, or if you are a bit short on time like me, keep your last cycle at a few days or a week. Either way, once you have repeated the Cyclical Review scheduling a few times, you will now have completed The Woodpecker Method as the authors initially recommended!

We hope you enjoy this new feature, which is released as a version 1 and is open to feedback on this forum thread. We do plan to develop it further depending on demand and resources, so please do let us know how you like it and what you think.

Bonus PRO feature: Custom Review Schedule

One of the most upvoted feature suggestions and one that topped our own wishlists was “user-defined spaced repetition“. With this new feature, we bring you exactly that. You can now define the spacing between each level of knowledge as you wish.

The flexibility offered by the manual edit of each level can even allow for smaller/longer maximum review times. Do you want to make sure that for a certain course you are seeing your exercises once per week? Can be done. For another course, you’d like to see them once a year? Can be done too. Here is a screenshot of how you’d set it inside a course:

The new feature is under the “Schedule” option in your Course Options. This one is PRO only.

Excited to try it out? We recommend you try out the new features on The Woodpecker Method course, or any course you wish. For instance, the new Tactics Time is proving a popular one, or perhaps the excellent Knights on the Attack (which is entirely FREE!). Enjoy!