Interview with Anupam Sringeri, Co-Founder @ WeddingOkay.com

WeddingOkay-e1431609347518

 

[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have additional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

Wedding is an indispensable part of almost every person’s life and involves a lot of search and decision making to do before the ‘Big Event’. Typically a user would have to decide upon a venue for the wedding, a caterer, a photographer, a decorator and a list of other service providers within a short period of time. Now all of this can be pretty painful to handle while you try to make your event a grand success. Making this difficult task easy by providing a one stop solution to all of this is a Bangalore based start-up – Wedding Okay.

Wedding Okay is a profitable, self funded, Wedding Services Portal that helps users to plan their wedding from the comfort of their homes. It provides valuable content to users to help them make decisions on a variety of stuff. It does so by providing real time venue availability, discount vouchers, reviews of wedding venues/caterers, customer testimonials, pricing data, etc. Apart from that, it is also a great marketing platform for the businesses to find a prospective customer and sell their products or services to him/her. The company is presently active in Bangalore only and is involved in 50% of the weddings that happen across the city.

Let’s see what its co-founder Anupam Sringeri has to say about it.

What motivated you to start the company and what is it all about?

WeddingOkay.com is a portal that people visit to plan their weddings online. We are not a wedding planner or an event management company. We started WeddingOkay.com to solve a problem that most people face while planning their wedding. We provide high quality content on all things related to weddings i.e. Wedding Halls, Photographers, Catering Menus, etc. We wanted to help our users plan their wedding online without having to run around the city looking for options.

We got started in the mid 2013 by cataloging over 300 wedding halls in Bangalore, with pictures, videos and features of these halls. Our website crashed within 30 days of putting up the content due to the surge in traffic. The idea was an instant hit. For the first time, these users had access to all the information they needed to shortlist a wedding hall for their event. We continued to deliver this simple solution consistently since then. Over 1500 unique visitors visit our site on a daily basis, looking for anything ranging from wedding halls to honeymoon packages. We are a profitable business since the first few months and we will be bootstrapping the journey till we get to a leadership position in the top ten cities in India.

wedding-planner

What is the current Team Size?

We are a team of 12 people:

  1. Revenue and Monetization: 2 Founders (Anupam and Venu) and a senior sales professional who recently joined us (Vinodh)
  2. Customer Service Operations: 4 Account Managers (Monica, Bhushitha, Vinay and Mogesh)
  3. Venue Monetization: 3 Account Managers (Dass, Sujan & Prashanth)
  4. Product Development: 2 Senior Developers (Newin and Rinas)

weddingokay

How did you hire your initial team?

We hired our team from the references of friends, relatives and ex-colleagues.

Which recruiting channels works best for you?

Referrals from friends, ex-colleagues, etc. have proved to be the most helpful to us.

20-SM222931

What are the key factors that you look for in a potential candidate?

Besides the necessary functional skills for the role, we look to hire people with 2 things:

  1. Extra-ordinary Motivation: They are highly motivated individuals who look for more than just clocking in hours. They have a good sense of the mission they are participating in, and as a result, deliver much more than what the team expects from them. As a startup, we offer very little supervision on any job, hence it helps to hire motivated individuals who figure out most things on their own and relentlessly work towards getting things done.
  2. Ownership: People are capable of doing much more when they are put in charge. We see people tend to be lot more result oriented when they are owners of processes. So we look to hire people who like to own up responsibilities and deliver to expectations.

While these are the type of people we like to hire, we certainly DO NOT hire people who need a lot of cajoling and motivation to do their job. When we hire people with low motivation, we end up inheriting a lot of their work, and also the responsibility for it. This is the real difference between efficient teams and the inefficient ones.

unnamed

According to you how much is the competition in your vertical? How big is the industry? Who all are your competitors and what are your views on them?

While we don’t think much about our competitors, wedding is a space where there is indirect competition from all quarters and in all forms. For example: Big players like Just Dial and Sulekha are our competitors. Although they don’t call themselves as specialists in the wedding space, they still have a large presence and own a significant portion of lead generation in the wedding business. There are also offline players, like the traditional wedding planners who also compete with the online portals like ours.

  • Even when there is indirect competition out there in every form of service we offer, we still believe there is little or no direct competition to the type of service we deliver each day. We maintain a real time inventory of all the wedding halls’ availability in Bangalore and their updated pricing. Unlike most competitors mentioned above, we go beyond than just listing a venue or a caterer and add a few random reviews next to that listing. When we get a vendor onboard, we take a lot of time in learning about his business, and we catalog every detail of the vendor’s business on his profile. The users have shown a lot of trust in our model and we continue to grow rapidly across various service areas in the wedding niche each day. We still believe that there are much bigger challenges to solve in this space and we work tirelessly to solve these problems.

If you’re interested in numbers, the Indian wedding industry is valued at 34 billions dollars annually.

Wedding-Photographers

What are your marketing strategies? Do you take help of Social platforms to promote ?

We don’t spend a single rupee on paid advertising. We have been sticking to SEO right from the start. We do use social media platforms extensively but nothing compares to effectiveness of SEO.

If not for SEO, the second major driver of traffic to our business is word of mouth advertising. As we solve our users’ problems, they continue to refer other users to our site.

What has been your experience with paid marketing channels?

Zero experience until now as we haven’t done any form of paid marketing. This is also the reason why we have been profitable since the first few months of starting.

32_Gouri-kapur1-300x300

Can you elaborate on the Challenges in promoting your website/ App?

SEOing a site requires dedicated attention, time and efforts. I currently divide my time between Sales, SEO and Product Dev and this sometimes gets very challenging. But fortunately I have guys on my team who are taking their time out to help me with SEO and SMM.

Promoting WeddingOkay.com on a national scale requires operationalizing everything we have learnt in putting the Bangalore site together at scale. We try and document everything we do so that we can leverage the learning across different cities when we scale. People become another integral part of the ‘growth’ formula and it is important to hire the right people with the right skills to help the scaling process.

3

What is the current traction? Can you share some numbers on Usage and Revenue?

  •  1500 unique visitors daily
  •  1800 to 2200 wedding leads a month
  •  50% of Bangalore’s market share in wedding space
  •  45 Paying Vendors
  •  Profitable since month 1

It’s been two and a half years since we got started and we are already at 50% of Bangalore’s market share. What it means is that every second wedding that happens in Bangalore is influenced by us in one way or more. We would have found a wedding hall or a photographer or a caterer or a bridal make-up artist or any of the wedding related services for one out of every two users who get married in Bangalore. We do anywhere from 1800-2200 leads every month from our Bangalore site alone.

Just to put our success in the right context, an indirect competitor company which does 300 crores as annual revenue generates only 20% of the leads that we generate everyday. They do all kinds of paid advertising, adwords, radio ads and newspaper ads to generate these leads.

Based on your experience would you have any advice to new Entrepreneurs/Startups?

There are three things you need to focus upon – People, Execution and Monetization!

People: Get the right team backing the product, without which the journey becomes twice as difficult. Most startups won’t have the luxury of hiring the best people for every position but the mission has to be exciting enough to draw the right set of people.

Execution: Ol’ fashioned Execution trumps Ideas and everything else. Spend less time ideating or talking about ideas and spend more time on executing them. No one idea will change the fortunes of the company. You got to build a journey mindset and get better at things every day. Small things executed daily in a timely fashion leads to significant progress over the long run.

Monetization: Revenue Generation or Monetizing is not your investors’ or your employees’ problem. It is yours! If you can’t fix it, don’t expect someone else to do it. With so many things happening around you, you could easily lose sight of cash flow. So keep yourself highly accountable when it comes to rev gen.

A good product generally takes less time/efforts in getting sold. So if your product is costing you a lot of time and efforts selling it, then it probably needs a lot of work.

 

[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have additional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *