Molecule Software Blog

The Molecule Software ETRM/CTRM Blog

Fixed Fee ETRM/CTRM Pricing For The Win

Molecule bids every ETRM/CTRM opportunity on a fixed fee basis. That is how we bid, every time, unless the customer requires a different price structure.

You might wonder why E/CTRM price structures - and getting a clear understanding of the total cost of ownership - have traditionally been complicated and hard. It's because early market participants have indoctrinated customers to believe fixed-fee pricing is impossible. They continue to win contracts with initial low bids that exclude T&E and do not cap costs (including implementation) because that way the numbers look appealing - at first glance.

Pricing Transparency for E/CTRMs

First, let's look at what our fixed fee includes.

Molecule's pricing includes:

  • Implementation - in about 90 days for main features
  • Feature updates - typically two releases per month, so our customers consistently wake up to modern tech
  • Support - provided by in-house Molecule employees with industry experience

Would we include building a MAJOR new feature you are dying for in that fixed fee? It depends.

We typically strive to meet your current needs and triangulate your requests with what everyone else is asking for. If it fits in our roadmap, you'll get the feature – typically at no cost, when it's ready.

If there's something you need yesterday and want to jump the queue, we'll discuss it with your team. If it makes sense, Molecule can custom-build a solution for you, which will come with a one-time charge. Although this scenario doesn't come up often, we're flexible when it does.

Why Doesn't Every Customer Demand a Fixed Fee Price?

At a glance, the pricing submitted by vendors that refuse to bid on a fixed fee basis can look better.

Let's look at some numbers over the life of a five-year purchase:

  1. Molecule bids $180k/year = $900k over five years for our 100% SaaS, multi-tenant cloud solution. Implementation, feature updates, and support are all included.
  2. A competitor bids $130k/year = $650k over five years, plus a one-time "estimated" implementation fee of $200k, plus support and maintenance at $100k/year.

At first glance, option 2 looks much cheaper. But it doesn't take a math whiz to see that the support and maintenance fees ($650k + $200k + (5 x $100k)) quickly make option 2 the more expensive proposition. In a post-COVID world, saving that $450k - and likely much more - could pay for a new hire or faster computers or bigger bonuses.

But, what if we take the $200k estimate as what it is – a minimum? What if (and this usually happens) the floating implementation fee doubles, triples, or quadruples?

ETRM/CTRM history is filled with legendary examples of uncapped, "estimated" implementation fees ballooning catastrophically. Mansions have probably been built and yachts purchased thanks to implementation fees.  And it's not just cost, but also the headaches accompanying out-of-control implementations. The real total cost of problematic pricing is often found in the rearview mirror.

For example, one of the best inbound leads Molecule has ever received was this (names redacted to protect the innocent):

"I was the business lead on an ETRM project where we swapped out a dated ETRM system called [very old competitor] with a newer one called [.NET competitor]. It was a bloody nightmare and I am scarred for life."

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

Evaluate bids in an apples-to-apples comparison. Dig in and understand what a "one-time implementation fee" could really end up costing. Understand the risks associated with that "no cap" provision.

And, always ask for a fixed fee. Every time. Get it in writing.

Fixed fee: for the win.

Selling Against a Fallacy in ETRM/CTRM Software

What Will I Save by Using Molecule?

ETRM: Build vs. Buy

Sales

Selling Against a Fallacy in ETRM/CTRM Software

One of my favorite things about being a Molecule is that we under-promise and over-deliver. Regularly.

When I'm on a demo with a prospect and they ask for a new feature to be delivered by a particular date? Nope, no can do.

WILL we do it? Maybe. But only via a contract and if our CEO 100% knows we can deliver.

We strive to be honest and factual about our ETRM/CTRM software. What we can and can't do.

Working for a company like this is refreshing - I've worked on the other side of this when it comes to company values.

One thing I've never done in my career is bad mouth a competitor. There's no point. We focus on solving our customers' problems better than anyone else. We trust that our team's integrity is evident.

In this post, let's look at software in general. I've sold a lot of it, so I have outside perspective as well.

Timelines and Costs

In every industry there are companies that bend the rules when answering RFPs, promising a new feature, or even mocking up an 'MVP' and calling it a production feature. Lots of companies promise a timeline for implementation or feature development, and then riddle customers with change orders and blast the implementation costs to the moon.

The ETRM/CTRM industry wrote the blueprint for decades-long implementations that balloon costs into the billions.

Product Quality

I want software to work like technology from Minority Report. But other ETRM/CTRM platforms don't. I've seen them.

Building Trust with Customers

How does Molecule combat our customers' fears of a vendor lying to them? Here are some of the big ways, and we challenge you to ask your vendors to do the same.

  1. If we promise a new feature, we'll tie it to a timeline in the contract. And we meet that deadline.
  2. We are open to Proofs-of-Concept. If we don't meet your requirements, you can walk away. Ask a monopoly to do this. Please.
  3. We do not lie in RFPs.
  4. We provide support our customers adore, with live, full-time Molecule employees. Check out what our users say about our support on Molecule's G2 page.

That being said, we are not perfect. We've missed a deadline before. Every now and then we find a bug. We are humans writing code and running a company with the end goal of making our customers' lives better.

Maybe it's to our detriment that we answer RFPs with total honesty. We lose more of them than we win. But we know this for a fact: companies that choose Molecule come to learn that we strive, on a daily basis, to outperform any other ETRM/CTRM they have ever used–or ever will.

Fixed Fee Pricing for the Win

The Molecule Ecosystem

For a Successful Implementation, Call...

ValuesSalesCost Savings

Welcome, Richard, Luke, & Syed

Molecule is growing! So far this year, we have added to our dev, customer success, and sales teams. We've done a quick Q&A with our additions to the sales team so you can get to know Richard Reedstrom, Luke 'Hawaiian-shirt' Kremer, and Syed Sohaib better. Stay tuned to meet the other new faces that have joined Molecule.

Richard Reedstrom

1.  Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up? What led you to a career in sales?

I grew up here in Houston. I'm passionate about improving people's lives, and I've found that this bonds incredibly well with sales. Every day I help people end frustrating battles with old systems and methods by providing real solutions. I get to give people back hours of their lives. For me, it comes down to figuring out how we can make our customers' lives better.

2.  Why did you decide to join Molecule?

When I first heard about Molecule, it looked like an interesting company with a ton of potential. I had always wanted to work with a genuinely innovative/disruptive technology, and the more I found out about Molecule, the more I fell in love. The underlying technology, the company values, and the team culture resonated with me one hundred percent. I'm thrilled to be a part of such an awesome group of people doing incredible things.

3.  What is something that you’ve already learned about the industry or company that has surprised you?

Not every solution that claims to be cloud-based actually is a true cloud-based (multi-tenant) solution.

4.  For fun, what are your top three favorite apps?

1 Second Everyday, Tidal, and Audible.

5.  Since you’re in a sales position, let’s ask the obvious: what’s the most compelling reason why someone should want to buy Molecule?

Everything just works. We believe you shouldn’t have to fight with your software. Instead, Molecule works in harmony with you and your process.

Luke Kremer

1. Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up? What led you to a career in sales?

I grew up in Papillion, a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska. I enjoy the relationship building and challenges that a sales person faces.

2. What is something that you’ve already learned about the industry or company that has surprised you?

I've been fascinated by renewable energy credit trading.

3. One of the things Molecule prides itself on is the time savings our software gives customers. More than one person has said that we’ve saved them two hours each day. If you were given two extra hours each day, how would you choose to spend them?

I’d have a tee time set two hours earlier each day; I could probably get a full 18 in before 7 pm.

4. For fun, what are your top three favorite apps?

Snapchat, Yelp, and Instagram.

5. Since you’re in a sales position, let’s ask the obvious: what’s the most compelling reason why someone should want to buy Molecule?

Molecule is future-proof software that looks and performs like it was made in 2019. We provide world-class service, free upgrades, and no extra implementation fees.

Syed Sohaib

1.  Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up? What led you to a career in sales?

I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. We moved to Stamford, Connecticut when I was in the middle of high school, which kickstarted my American dream. I graduated from the University of Connecticut (UConn) with an International Business Management degree and a focus in Finance. I took a marketing course titled ‘Professional Selling,’ and the final was to pitch a mock product and replace the incumbent provider. After the presentation my professor asked why I was not a marketing/sales major. According to him, I had a natural ability to be successful in a professional sales role. Long story short, I had an opportunity to join the sales team at ThomsonReuters, selling data solutions. I truly enjoyed the experience and challenge of bringing the right solutions to our clients/prospects. Ever since then I have been in sales and business development, and I enjoy every bit of it. Well, perhaps not CRMs!

2.  Why did you decide to join Molecule?

After trying my luck in different industries after ThomsonReuters, I wanted to get back into the financial services technology space. Molecule's solution "wow-ed" and made me excited about bringing it to market. For companies that have a need and utilize old technology for calculating P&L, position, and risk, Molecule is a game changer both from the ease of use and time-saving perspective.

3.  What is something that you’ve already learned about the industry or company that has surprised you?

The deep dive into the power market made me realize how challenging it is to learn, trade, and deal in this space.

4.  One of the things Molecule prides itself on is the time savings our software gives customers. More than one person has said that we’ve saved them two hours each day. If you were given two extra hours each day, how would you choose to spend them?

Spend more time with my family, learn a new language, restore and upgrade a Range Rover Defender 110, and go off the grid for a bit.

5.  For fun, what are your top three favorite apps?

I like puzzles, so Progress & Super Sharp. Proshot for some light photography and Flipboard to stay updated on tech, sports, travel, and autos, etc.

We are not finished either. Personally, I'm always recruiting for the sales team. Word on the wire is that we just hired a new developer in Spain! If you like what you have seen of Molecule so far, hit us up. We are always in the market for the best talent.

PeopleSales

What Will I Save by Using Molecule?

We frequently get questions asking how our pricing model works, especially as compared to other vendors in the ETRM/CTRM industry. In answering the question "What will I Save?", we first need to understand the pricing model for legacy (or on-premise) software.

Legacy Systems

Typically, with on-premise (or even single-tenant cloud) software like an ETRM, pricing has three components:

  • Perpetual License Fee
  • Annual Maintenance
  • Services (i.e., installation)

For a mid-size ETRM/CTRM customer, let's say the license fee is $1m on a 4-year contract. This is the most negotiable part of the contract because 1) it's not where the real money is paid and 2) the underlying variable cost (what it costs to send you the software) is essentially $0.

The annual maintenance fee, however, is where the margin gets real. Annual maintenance is often 20% of the standard pre-negotiation license fee. So, $200k/year in this example. This is less negotiable because this money pays for the development team. We've also heard of this as "the money that pays for new features and bug fixes," which makes our sales team go crazy.

Services – now here's where the major cost lies. On a greenfield ETRM/CTRM implementation, services can start at several hundred thousand dollars. However, implementations typically go into the millions, or even tens of millions (not because they're budgeted that way, but because they quietly end up ballooning in scope and time). The cost is unbounded – and from what we've seen, services is typically 75% of the total cost to the customer of an ETRM/CTRM installation. (CTRMCenter has an article on this, here). This is the case for numerous good and bad reasons. But, from our perspective, the most important reason is that because of a time-and-expense billing schedule, vendors are not incentivized to keep billing for services low.

Molecule

Molecule is different. In general, users pay a single package price, plus applicable sales tax. That's it. The price includes implementation, "paying for new features," the license fee, etc.

We have a minor fee schedule for a handful of things like new users, custom reports, and re-configuration of the application – but most of our customers never pay any additional fees.

Package prices are calculated, on purpose, to be roughly equivalent to the 4-year amortized license fee + maintenance fees of another ETRM/CTRM. This takes into account that license fees are often heavily discounted for smaller customers – but the point is, we're not aiming for the lowest license fees in the industry.

What users just don't pay for with Molecule is implementation. We take on the risk of new implementations knowing that the payoff for our customers (and for us) is enormous. We are aggressive about bounding the total cost and time of the implementation – because we are incentivized to do so. We do things like:

  • Assigning an expert project manager on Day 1
  • Avoiding implementation-related travel, if at all possible
  • Figuring out what "success" means for the customer, and keeping laser-focused on that goal
  • Building tooling for our Customer Success (support & implementation) team, so that they can get their job done more quickly

This is how we create the most value. We believe that implementation costs, in Six Sigma terms, are waste (muda, mura, and/or muri). Our customers don't benefit from paying tons of money for implementation, and neither does our enterprise value.

Summary

Basically, our customers pay industry-standard software fees – but end up saving 75% of the total cost of an ETRM/CTRM because we don't charge for implementation.

Fixed Fee ETRM/CTRM Pricing for the Win

How Much Does an ETRM Cost in 2021?

For a Successful Implementation Call

SalesFeatures

Top Questions Our Sales Team is Asked

Sometimes you want more information than what a company highlights on their website before requesting a demo and ending up in a marketing and sales funnel. We get it. We want to provide you with more details about Molecule and our platform so you feel good about sending in that demo request (which you can schedule easily right here)!

Here are common questions prospective customers ask our sales team:

TRADES SUPPORTED

Does Molecule support positions tradable on ICE and CME (e.g. lookback options, monthly options, etc.)?

We support pretty much everything on ICE, including lookbacks and monthly options. There has been nothing to date that we can’t support.

Molecule really shines with ICE, CME, on exchange trades, but I have off-exchange/ OTC trades. Can you handle these as well?

We can! Molecule has an awesome natural language processor that handles all OTC/ off-exchange trades in a simple interface. Just type in the search box the same way you would say the trade out loud, and hit enter. It books, position automatically updates, and VaR recalculates. It just works.

FTRs?

One of our favorites! Yes. Molecule connects to ISOs and provides position and settlements. Virtuals as well.

REPORTING

What kind of reports can you provide?

With every subscription, we have custom reports included in the package. We have a baked-in BI tool, and we work with you to set up interactive visual reports. These can be as complex as you want so that you can see the data you need – however you need to see data to make the best decisions.

How long will it take Molecule to calculate and finalize our end of day reporting? We have a specific time reports must be submitted. Can we specify a deadline in Molecule?

Molecule recalculates EOD with every new trade booked in near real time. It’s automatic, accurate, and almost like magic. Since it's ready whenever you want, there's no need to set a deadline.

What VaR models does Molecule run?

Monte Carlo and Delta Gamma.

Can we include our own asset models in the system?

Yes. The platform has an assets area where we can integrate pretty much anything. Some can be rather complex, but we haven’t run into something we can’t include yet. We enjoy working together to figure out each customer’s unique assets and how to integrate into Molecule in a smart way.

PLATFORM FUNCTIONALITY

Some of my team wants to stick with spreadsheets. Is that a problem?

No issue at all. Molecule’s API ties into your Excel sheets. This way you know everyone is on the same page and all information is automatic and accurate.

Can we view different traders’ activity from a management point of view?

There are a few ways you could set this up in Molecule. We can help you determine what best fits your worldview and implement in the right way.

Sometimes we want to roll out new trading strategies. Is there a way we can keep track of these?

Yes! Within Molecule you can set up tags for various strategies and view by tag.

IMPLEMENTATION

What are your implementation fees?

$0 - and that’s not a typo! We really charge $0 to get up and running with Molecule.

Really?

Yes. Really!

While on the subject of implementation… how long does your process take?

In most cases, 90 days or less.

SUPPORT & UPDATES

How do software updates work? I’m guessing there are additional fees?

We regularly (approximately every two weeks) push updates live for all of our customers. These costs are all included in our prices, so you don’t need to budget any extra for them… or wait years to see improvements.

Will we have to hire a consultant, developer, or budget for tickets?

We believe software should just work and have won customers on our awesome support team. If you need something, simply let us know. There are no additional costs, and most tickets we resolve in under an hour.

Molecule updates every two weeks? With such an aggressive release cycle, how do you all ensure a stable code environment?

We love this question! Let’s geek out. First, every code change is tested as part of a full automatic regression test, through our Continuous Integration suite. Then, we manually test every change. Next, we sanity-check the app by hand. Finally, we backtest a year’s worth of valuation data using our newest code, just to see if anything would have changed. Our biggest goal is no (bad) surprises. Our QA process is the most robust you’ll find in this space.

After all this, schedule your demo with us so we can answer your other questions.

New Feature: Inventory Tickets

Reporting in SAAS

Selling Against a Fallacy in ETRM/CTRM Software

Sales