Story of Cleeng
Online video subscriber retention management
“After re-inventing the Cleeng platform into an OTT subscription model that would generate recurring revenue, our business model became more attractive to venture capitalists.”
The key to survival is not strength. It’s adaptability. And this is true for Cleeng, which reinvented itself a few times since they launched eight years ago. Today, they are more focused and ambitious than ever.
Cleeng was founded by Gilles Domartini (CEO), Donald Res (CTO) and Benedicte Guichard (Head of Marketing), three veterans of the e-commerce industry. Today, the SaaS platform that specialized in subscriber retention management (SRM) is used by video subscription businesses around the world. Their clients include Sinclair Broadcast Group, CBC, Altice, SKY in 50 countries and end-users in 170 countries who use Cleeng to manage and retain their OTT subscribers.
A dream team launches Cleeng
In 2011, Cleeng was brought to life by its three main co-founders: Gilles, Donald and Benedicte. And Mateusz Tymek (VP Platform Operations) completed the dream team.
“We had known each other for quite some time and complement each other well. Gilles had the vision; he literally has a new idea every day of the week. Donald is very solution-driven; he enjoys the challenge of transforming an idea and developing it. And I complement them with my project management and marketing expertise. It’s how we operate as a team,”Benedicte Guichard, Head of Marketing Cleeng
“At the beginning, when Cleeng’s monetization platform was designed for the press industry, we worked with La Tribune in France and Volkskrant in the Netherlands. But we realized there was much more potential in the video space, and especially the sports industry. This is why we decided in 2014 to pivot and become the specialist in Live Pay-Per-View,” explains Benedicte.
During the monetized and huge events like the Mayweather versus McGregor fight, Cleeng’s powerful and stable platform processed up to 10,000 ticket transactions on a single night. It can easily process up to 100,000 ticket transactions.
They built a solid reputation around this transactional business model but the main downside was the unpredictability of big live events. They decided to shift towards the SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) business model and re-invent themselves again.
Looking back, the team faced a hard decision. “We had to change our positioning, product offering, pricing model and start over again. Killing the old model was hard to let go after we had put so much energy in our lives into it,” says Benedicte.
“To fully embrace the potential emerging from this new subscription economy, and execute our ambitious vision and plan, we needed financial support. We wanted to offer the best services and tools to keep video subscribers loyal to brands,” she adds.
Walvis is the perfect match
“Walvis liked our story and saw a lot of growth potential in the subscription retention market. With their focus on innovation and technology, Walvis was a perfect fit,” says Benedicte.
Walvis also appealed to them for meaningful reasons. “It’s never easy to choose an investment partner and we were considering two offers,” she says. “Walvis shares the same family values and entrepreneurial spirit that we embrace. And Vincent is very knowledgeable in this space. That’s why Walvis was the right choice — and they challenge us in the right way.”
Taking things in a new direction with Walvis
In 2018 when Walvis invested in Cleeng, they emphasized a transition from a pay-per-view (one-off revenue model) to SRM, which generates more recurring and sustainable revenue.
Walvis then contributed to the professionalization of Cleeng with its governance structure. And they also provided hands-on support to prepare them for future bank financing.
“We’re all rowing in the same direction,” notes Benedicte. Times have changed and they’ve had their share of challenges but Cleeng is in a stronger position than ever. And the dream team still loves what they do.
“We work in a very fun industry with a very diverse team who enjoy it too. We try to inspire our team as much as we inspire our own children. It’s a very rewarding experience.”
Cleeng by the numbers
Founded in 2010
20+ supported languages
40 million transactions per day
250+ active broadcasters
91% satisfied broadcasters