Picking a wedding gift is such a hassle. We have all fretted over what wedding gift to buy for our best friend’s wedding. You wanted it to be unique, only to find others bought them the exact same thing. Every married couple in India has tales of woe about the multiple hand-mixies and silver coins they received on their wedding day, all of which they ended up gifting to other couples.
Last year, Sudha Maheshwari faced a similar problem when she had to decide what wedding gift to buy for a close friend. She searched for a website that would help her, but was surprised to learn that there was none. She decided to launch a wedding gift platform.
Sudha is an economist with an MBA in Marketing from Warwick Business School in the UK. With a career that was already in high gear, she decided to chuck it all up and start afresh with her idea of bringing the concept of wedding gift registries to India. Prior to starting up, she had worked with companies like Citibank, Deloitte, and Philip Morris across marketing, strategy, and communication.
Deep-dive conversations with family, friends, and acquaintances over a six-month period helped cement her conviction on the underlying demand and the need for such a service in India.
Product in making
It started off as an initial project plan, which included a market survey to understand whether there was indeed a requirement for such a service in the country. And the response from people was astoundingly positive.
Sudha also realised that offline registries do take place in some form or the other, at every wedding. Close friends of the bride and groom do ask the couple what they would like for their wedding and get them their choice of gift. Colleagues also tend to chip-in and buy the couple something that would be of use when setting up a home. It is high time that registries make a formal entry in India.
Based on surveys and studies, Sudha launched ForMyShaadi in February 2016. It is a wedding gift e-registry website for would-be married couples.
“The platform aimed at creating an online market place of exclusive brands and unique experiences so that couples can get the gifts they want on their big day, be it by wishlisting gifts that will help them set up their new home or by listing experiences and personal items that they would enjoy,” says Sudha Maheshwari, Founder and CEO, ForMyShaadi.
She adds that once the wishlist is ready, it can be shared by the couple with their friends and family who can browse through products the couple have selected, make a purchase, leave a greeting for the couple and go to the wedding hassle free.
According to her, the overall response from brands, merchants, wedding vendors, online influencers and the public in general has been encouraging. She hopes to continue this momentum and ensure that wedding registries become ‘the’ way of gifting at Indian weddings.
Sudha bootstrapped the platform with an initial investment of $ 100, 000. She says that a majority of the amount was put into product development and merchant onboarding.
The platform runs on the marketplace model and has signed on over 60 brands who share revenue per sale. It claims to get about 3,000 unique hits each month on its website. Couples tend to typically wishlist gifts totaling Rs 1,00,000- Rs 2,00,000 on their registry and invite 50-75 of their friends and family to this wishlist.
“Our marketing efforts have just begun and are relatively modest, but will be ramped up post the next round of funding,” says Sudha.
She adds that with the product ready and proven market acceptance, she is now looking to raise an angel round to the tune of $500,000, which will help her focus on spreading concept and brand awareness.
Market and competition
According to an industry estimate, currently, the Indian wedding industry is over Rs 100,000 crore and is growing at 25 to 30 per cent annually. The estimated cost of a wedding in India, with no expenses spared, could be between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 5 crore. According to another estimate, the Indian wedding gift market is worth $ 40 billion and the industry is growing at over 25 per cent, annually.
In this segment, many players are exploring opportunities in the wedding gift market. Shaadisaga, Flaberry, GoGappa are some of the gifting websites. Early last year, within three months of launch, Shaadisaga raised funding from Outbox Venture. Besides, there are other players targeting the wedding industry.
“The market is quite significant and there is a huge potential to channelise the demand for wedding gifts in a coherent manner,” says Sudha.
On challenges, she says that the wedding gift registries in India are a classic case of disruptive innovation. As innovative a proposition as it is, culturally, some sections of Indian society will take time to get past the inhibitions and be receptive towards this new-age gifting technique. “At ForMyShaadi, our aim is to make wedding gifting stress free and fun, and make this the only way of gifting at weddings, a couple of years down the line.”