From picking and securing a venue to deciding on colour schemes and organising seating charts, planning a wedding has traditionally been an arduous – and expensive – process. But Central Coast startup Weddingbuzz doesn’t think it has to be.
Inspired by the frustration he experienced planning his own wedding, Phil Usher co-founded Weddingbuzz with his brother-in-law Chris Escott. Aiming to be a one stop shop for anyone planning a wedding, the platform connects them with businesses that provide wedding-related services. But rather than acting as a Yellow Pages-like platform, Weddingbuzz works by having businesses list priced packages, such as eight hours of photography, cars, a set of dance lessons, and even honeymoon packages.
The first real light bulb moment, Usher said, came when he tried to hire a car for his wedding and was given a quote of $800 for four hours, and had no idea how to find out whether this price was expensive or not without contacting another three or four suppliers. The other was his wedding celebrant telling him she had placed an ad worth $1,500 in a local publication which promised to generate at least ten leads; after six months, she had had none.
Both experiences made Usher think there had to be a better way for both sides of the marketplace to get things done.
“I got frustrated and how tedious and complicated the process was. Knowing that Chris had a bit of an entrepreneurial streak I had pitched the idea to him. He liked the idea and actually said he had thought of something similar after his own wedding a few years before. He then got to work on building the site,” Usher said.
The pair funded the business “like every great startup – with a credit card and [our] savings,” with Escott’s web design skills meaning they were able to save on the development of the site.
The platform allows for those planning a wedding to search for vendors based on location, price, theme, and ratings. They can confirm a vendor’s availability, then pay a 30 percent deposit to secure a package, with a 14 day money back guarantee that allows for a couple to meet the vendor. It’s free for a vendor to list on the platform, with a commission paid once someone has made a purchase.
“We originally started with a model where businesses paid a subscription fee so we could test the market. We love working with small businesses so we have changed to a model where we only take a fee when their services have been booked. The harder we work, the more business our clients will get. It’s a win-win relationship. And it doesn’t require a massive upfront commitment like the current industry standard,” Usher said.
There are over 100 businesses on the platform so far, offering between one to 10 packages each. However, with most based around NSW and Victoria, Weddingbuzz has work to do to bring more businesses on board around the country to ensure it’s a national platform. It also faces competition from similar platforms like Weddingbids, which asks businesses to ‘bid’ on jobs posted by users by providing tailored quotes for their services, and Veilability, which focuses on helping couples find and book venues.
Usher said Weddingbuzz is in the middle of raising a funding round, having had an “exciting” response from angels and VCs.
“For us it’s about who brings the smart money. We want our investors to bring their knowledge and strategic input to the table.”