Chessable, Smartick of Chess Teaching?
It’s clear that the users are behind the product, but Chessable is committed to growing only at a sustainable pace. Kramaley said his previous startup Sharkius failed because he expanded it too soon, and a prominent US-based VC told him that “chess is a market where it pays to remain lean”. That is why Chessable, two years into its journey, only has a full-time team of four, with four more working part-time. While staying lean gives Chessable a longer runway, it comes with its own challenges as new features take longer to implement. However, with around 1,500 weekly active learners and 20,000 unique visitors per month, Chessable does appear to be on to something. At the moment, most of the people using Chessable are based in US, UK, and Germany, and around 3 percent of them are from India. Kramaley says the site still has some work to do before pushing for international growth but he expects that to happen sometime in 2019….
Chessable makes money from pro subscriptions at $10 (roughly Rs. 640) per month, or less if you pay yearly. Pro subscriptions offer the ability to find and focus on moves that are difficult for you, and removes lots of limitations on the free tier. The startup still makes about half of its revenue from subscriptions and the rest from selling interactive chess books. The startup also has an interesting “lifetime” subscription tier at $300 (roughly Rs. 19,000) that gives you access to all pro features for as long as the site’s around.
Chessable hasn’t yet become profitable but Kramaley says that at some point in 2018, he expects Chessable to cross over into the “default alive state” as Y Combinator’s Paul Graham puts it — “Assuming their expenses remain constant and their revenue growth is what it’s been over the last several months, do they make it to profitability on the money they have left? Or to put it more dramatically, by default do they live or die?” Chessable has raised two rounds of funding, “so we are completely ok for years to come”, Kramaley tells Gadgets 360.
Chessable does not have any apps but it works very well on desktop and mobile browsers that we’ve used. Kramaley, in his email, says, “Ironically this past month I’ve had some of the worst internet for a while… in the south of France. Chessable works pretty well still; if you can put up with the odd page not loading here and there. We’ve used current (non-app) technology as well as possible to allow for poor connections and if can find more ways to optimise it we will.”
One good aspect of Chessable is that it doesn’t have complicated graphics interfaces, it can work in a developing country with poor internet service as well.
I’m still waiting for a Smartick equivalent for chess teaching and learning. Chessable can learn a thing or two from Smartick.
We do highly recommend John Bartholomew’s courses on chessable.