How the amalgamation of technology and the innovation of startups is transforming the Indian wedding industryAparajita Choudhury
“Marriages are made in heaven” The old adage is all well and good until one gets tangled in the rigmarole of organising and planning a traditional wedding. However, finding vendors based on “word of mouth” is now passé. Today, technology brings you multiple options and makes wedding planning simpler and more fun. Vendor discovery and wedding coordination have been unified in a single app, thereby altering the way local wedding vendors and couples discover each other. Even social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can be leveraged to discover the best vendors, venues, and sharing of ideas.
Weddings are big business in India. In urban India alone, there are roughly 10 million weddings taking place every year, and each one on average costs Rs. 20 lakhs or more. The industry is currently quite unorganised and there is a great deal of variance in the quality of service. Online portals go one step beyond just being a listing of various service providers in this space,” says Hemant Kanakia, angel investor, Indian Angel Investor who has invested in a Gurgaon-based startup WedMeGood.
Anand Shahani, Co-founder, WedMeGood, says, “We are happy to drive not just vendor discovery but also wedding coordination between families using apps to share ideas and feedback on whom to hire.”
WedMeGood.com is a wedding portal that allows users to view the wedding photographs of recently married couples in their city, see their reviews of the vendors they hired, and browse through a selected list of wedding vendors. It gets over three lakh unique visitors each month and traffic is growing 10 per cent month on month. The app witnessed over 15 thousand downloads in the first three months of its launch. The startup says it is targetting a 20 per cent share of the total industry by 2020. It has raised Rs 2.7 crore in seed funding led by Hemant Kanakia and Alok Mittal of Indian Angel Network (IAN).
The wedding industry is currently disorganised with very few reliable brands. The growing usage of mobile phones and the Internet has opened up opportunities to put customers in control of their wedding experience.
Huge internet penetration opens up opportunity
Given the fragmented nature of the offline market, users are driven by the online availability of the curated list of vendors. Sanna Vohra, Founder of Indear.in states that with over half of India’s population under the age of 25, 10 million weddings happen here every year. The younger generation is more comfortable finding information and making purchases and bookings online.
Founded in April 2014, Indear acts as an aggregator of wedding content and products directly from wedding vendors and designers. Similar to Pinterest, users can pin their favourite content on boards and share the same with their family. It makes commissions on all products sold and all services booked through its portal. The startup counts the Taj Group of Hotels, Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla, Ritu Kumar, Anita Dongre, Amrapali, Forest Essentials and the Wedding Filmer among its partners.
“The 3G vs 4G race in the mobile industry has benefitted the matrimonial sites the most,” says Ashish Dhane, Co-founder, MeraVivah.com.
Founded in October 2015, Nagpur-based MeraVivah.com is a social matrimony site. The startup witnesses 500 to 600 visitors daily. Till date, it has more than 3,500 KYC-approved profiles and more than 20 success stories have happened so far.
Weddings are not a standard product or service. There is a whole lot of customisation in each and every wedding – from rituals to locations to budgets. With a presence in six major cities across India, we have seen that each region has different styles and expectations with regards to venues and vendors. This also presents a unique opportunity to innovate and create inventive offerings and packages to customers,” says Sandeep Lodha, Founder, Weddingz.in.
One stop solution for all wedding related queries
Founded in 2015, Mumbai-based Weddingz.in is an online marketplace for wedding venues and vendors. It has now expanded to 10 cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, and Goa. It expects to extend its reach to 20 cities, including Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad by the end of 2016.
More than 50 per cent people in urban areas use the Internet for wedding-related decisions. Convenience, varied options, trustworthy information, and better value for money are some factors that drive the industry,” says Manish Garg, Co-founder, Shaadisaga.
Shaadisaga has raised funds from Outbox Ventures to increase service categories, expand to other cities, and to further develop capabilities for various service providers to better manage their business online. More than 1,500 service providers have created their online stores on Shaadisaga.
Shaadisaga is close to completing its pre-series investment round where some of the leading angels and industry experts are participating. In next two years, it will have a presence in the top 20 cities handling 20,000 weddings a year.
A candid photographer Aditi Dinakar says, “Mysuru, Bengaluru, Shimoga, Madhya Pradesh (Chhatarpur), Calicut, Coimbatore, Hassan, and Madurai are some of the cities I have covered so far. However, I mostly receive projects from Mysuru or Bengaluru. I charge Rs. 60,000 to 70,000 for a wedding.”
WedMeGood operates on a classified model with its vendors paying them a marketing fee to be visible on their platform. However, they soon will explore monetisation through a transaction model where a few wedding services can start getting booked online. The revenue growth of WedMeGood is 15 per cent month on month. The startup raised funds in August 2015 from Indian Angel Network and a few angel investors.
In the early years, one would expect only a few service providers such as make-up artists, photographers, decorators and caterers who would be engaged via online portals, but in five years, I see the industry mature enough to provide entire turnkey efforts or packages that help one organise weddings with very little pain,” says Hemant.
Currently, Meravivah.com follows one revenue model, which is membership plans. Soon, they will launch another revenue model by introducing wedding guides where people get a vendors list within their city like wedding planner, florist, catering service and more. By the end of this year, the startup plans to convert at least 10,000 members into paid membership.
“We are targeting a 10 per cent market share of urban weddings in India and touching 50 per cent of all weddings in the next three to four years. We are booking more than 150 weddings every month and the number is growing by 25 to 30 per cent month-on-month. We work as sales and marketing partners with venues and vendors who are listed with us,” says Sandeep.
“I believe that more than pricing or discounting, this market will be built on the basis of brands that recognise the unique importance of this life event, and hence can provide reliability and inspiration to the bride or groom. Over the next five years, I am confident that there will be two to three specialised wedding planning or execution startups beginning to gain scale,” says Alok Mittal.