Why subscription services aren’t dead yet

Mary Biggins, right, with her MealPal co-founder Katie Ghelli.
Image: mealpal

Before she co-founded ClassPass, Mary Biggins sold subscriptions for leather-bound books.

“I love the subscription space,” Biggins said in an interview on Mashable‘s Biz Please podcast. “From really early in my career, I’ve been thinking about subscription unit economics and how you acquire customers. The thing that’s really cool about subscriptions is there are so many different levers to think about.”

Biggins joined Mashable social media producer Tracey Edouard and me in our New York headquarters to talk about her history in the subscription space and her new venture, MealPal.

“For consumers, subscriptions make sense in ways where you can really bucket an expense.”

MealPal, which lets customers pay a set monthly fee to pick up weekday lunches from participating restaurants, is growing. The startup just went international with a launch in London and raised another $15 million in venture funding. And even as the subscription space gets more crowded, and startups struggle to make as much of a mark as the boutique fitness subscription service ClassPass once did, Biggins says MealPal is built to last.

“In the yesteryear of Groupon, the sell to a merchant was, ‘Join our platform, we’re going to bring you a new customer and theyre going to buy again.’ The reality is that’s just not what happens,” Biggins said. “With MealPal we knew going into it that that couldnt be the value proposition. We had to understand how we could bring value to a merchant if the consumer only came one time and they never bought directly from them.”

Instead, MealPal tells merchants who sign on that it’ll make their labor more efficient, so they can make more money from one MealPal order than they would from a regular order.

Besides MealPal, Biggins sees more potential in the subscription space for activities and services, if not for subscription boxes and other things you buy.

Startups still haven’t fully tapped the potential of subscriptions for food, and customers in the suburbs are still waiting for subscription models to serve them. Even airlines and subways are ripe for subscription innovation, she said.

“For consumers, subscriptions make sense in ways where you can really bucket an expense,” Biggins said.

Listen to the full episode to hear more about MealPal, the origin story of ClassPass and the potential still out there for subscription services. For more Biz Please, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and find us here on Stitcher.

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