Credit to tying of knots between emerging start-ups and omnipresent internet, brides and grooms now can stick to their couch till the wedding day and conveniently order rings, design dresses, send invitations, hire caterers, book wedding destinations and register gifts for guests. Countless modern couples today are opting to download wedding apps or log onto a wedding site online and plan their entire wedding functions. Sanna Vohra, CEO, and Founder, The Wedding Brigade, unveils the USP of her start-up and its industry.
How and when did the idea behind this originate?
Before The Wedding Brigade, I grew up all over Asia – in India, Singapore, and the Philippines. I then attended Brown University in the US, where I started my first company and got a taste for entrepreneurship. After graduating in 2012, I joined Morgan Stanley New York’s investment banking franchise, where I focused on equity transactions in the technology sector. However, the entrepreneurial bug never really left me. After two years of working with inspiring technology CEOs on their initial public offerings and selling their stories to investors, I knew I had to go back to my first love- entrepreneurship. One day, while listening to my friend lamenting about the wedding planning process, I knew I had found my next venture!
In this widely unorganized industry, what potential do you see in your business?
I consciously chose a digital platform because I wanted to change the process of wedding planning for the 21st century Indians. Earlier, people relied on word-of-mouth recommendations, had to run around from market-to-market themselves, had no transparency around pricing and found the process of planning a wedding to be extremely stressful. Now they can browse the latest inspiration from their bedrooms, buy products on their mobiles and have our concierge service make all the recommendations and arrangements for them - from choosing a venue to any other services (while getting better pricing).
Not only does this bring structure and transparency to a disorganized market but also lifts some of the stress from the bride’s shoulders and gives them more time to enjoy their wedding.
What are the challenges of tapping into this niche segment? What are the lessons learnt?
I think the main lesson learnt is to do your research before launching a new product/service. Make sure you understand exactly what the customer wants. Also, given it’s a niche market, it is vital to build a community where people can actively engage with your brand and you can ensure you are reaching a relevant audience.
What products and services do you offer?
The Wedding Brigade’s mission is to create India’s most-trusted wedding brand through curated and easy to access content, products, and services. Users can browse wedding inspiration and read original content on our wedding blog, buy wedding-related products like clothing, costume, jewellery, and gifts and book wedding-related services such as venues, photographers, make-up artists and more. We deliver our products pan-India and have recently started international delivery. Currently, our wedding services platform is active in Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh, and Goa. We have also launched betas of our iOS and Android social wedding apps which lets users invite guests, make announcements, share photos and more.
What is the price range of your products and services?
The starting price of the products we sell on our website is Rs. 500 for jewellery and Rs. 2000 for clothing, going up to a few lakhs. Clients who book venues and services from us have wedding budgets ranging from 15 Lakh – 15 crore.
On what criteria do you select these products and services?
All of our vendors and products are screened before we feature them on our portal. Other than accountability, quality and trust, we also look for vendors/products that are trendy and in fashion.
How does your business stand apart from your selective few competitors in this industry?
While our competition focuses on one particular vertical (like just venues or just content), The Wedding Brigade is actually solving the most significant problem Indian brides face when planning a wedding– managing 100 things in a limited time, with a limited budget. We are the only Indian wedding portal with a strong content platform, an e-commerce arm and robust services and venues that can address all of a bride’s needs. Moreover, our holistic approach leads to margins that are much better than our competitors.
How do you intend to pump up your business in future?
We are scaling our venues and services business to more cities, notably in South India. We will be investing more money into marketing to scale our e-commerce business as well. We also just launched a new initiative called 'Bride Tribe' in Mumbai, where brides-to-be and wedding guests can gain access to 10% – 20% off on over 40 top brands, saving between Rs. 45,000 – Rs. 1,25,000 over 6 months (since it costs just Rs. 2,499). Lastly, we continue to focus on growing our community of active, engaged brides to make sure we always have a good pulse of the market.
What piece of advice do you have for others entering this market?
Do consumer research to make sure you are offering something they actually want but which is indeed differentiated and well-priced.