A local startup wants to turn wedding inspiration photos into a streamlined, one-click visual shopping experience.
The Wed Clique, a B2B e-commerce platform that bundles vendors into packages based on styled visual inspiration, is building out a solution that layers an instant buy button over your favorite Pinterest-style wedding inspiration photos.
It’s a freaking brilliant idea that addresses a problem faced by anyone planning weddings today — How do you identify the right vendors to bring to life the inspiration you found online?
“Today’s brides spend so much time on Pinterest looking at beautiful images and then they have to go out and find the vendors that can potentially recreate that image, but that image probably came from other vendors that are based halfway across the country,” said co-founder and CEO Lisa Huber Ganderson. “So what we’re doing is aggregating all of those styled shoots and effectively putting a buy button on them.”
The Wed Clique was born out of frustration when Ganderson and her friend Rachael Classi, two Duke MBA grads, were planning their weddings at the same time and found themselves navigating the same inefficiencies.
“We met up for coffee and spent pretty much the whole time complaining about how terrible wedding planning was,” Ganderson said.
She has a background in finance and worked at a venture capital company prior to launching The Wed Clique. Classi, the company’s co-founder and COO, worked previously as the head of marketing at Counter Culture Coffee.
“We’re both used to everything functioning with process and efficiency,” said Ganderson. “Going through the [wedding] planning process, we realized none of that exists today. It’s pen and paper. It’s slow. It’s small creative business owners that, at the end of the day, they’re artists and they don’t want to deal with the nitty gritty of running a business.”
So they decided to create a one-click booking engine that makes it easier for vendors to get booked and for brides and grooms to buy exactly what they’re looking for.
“We really started talking about it and realized there’s probably a million things that need fixing in the wedding industry but, at the end of the day, if we don’t make things easier for the vendors to get booked in the way they want to get booked, to make it easier for brides to book the way that millennial brides like to shop today, it kind of doesn’t matter what other small problems we solve,” Ganderson said.
The Wed Clique rolled out a minimum viable product in North Carolina back in January of this year.
Right now, the focus is on building up the supply side of the business by on-boarding photographers, florists, caterers, makeup artists, hair stylists, etc. who will create styled wedding bundles by venue.
In the first three months, 400 vendors joined the free Wed Clique community in North Carolina. Since then, they’ve rolled out product version 1.0 of the site and further expanded to Georgia and South Carolina, adding about another 100 vendors so far.
They’ll look at nationwide expansion later in 2018, but Ganderson says they want to prove out the concept in the Southeast first. “It’s wedding country,” she said. “It’s the densest area of wedding professionals anywhere in the country and a great place to build a wedding startup from the ground up.”
Later this summer, they’ll start piloting their one-click buy option with venues, which is where couples will search, select and book wedding bundles based on visual inspiration styled at that exact location by local vendors.
The Wed Clique will function essentially as a booking agent, taking a booking fee from an initial non-refundable deposit that reserves all the vendors at once. From there, they step out of the way and the couples and vendors move forward with additional customization.
The demand for simplified one-click multi-vendor booking option doesn’t end at weddings.
In fact, Ganderson and Classi don’t even consider themselves in the wedding business.
“[We have] no background in the wedding industry other than that we got married,” said Ganderson. “Our background is on the business side of things and for us, this is an e-commerce company.”
She expects a natural evolution into other verticals — like home design and renovation — that require complex multi-vendor booking arrangements.
“Where we see this going long term is e-commerce for localized services based on a visual shopping experience,” she said.
Imagine being able to look at a living room design or bathroom renovation inspiration photo and then book all the vendors that made it happen with the click of a button. Sign me up.
In the meantime, Ganderson and Classi are quickly gaining traction with their platform in the wedding industry. Just last month, they successfully completed the Techstars accelerator program in Austin, TX and were also awarded a $50,000 grant from NC IDEA.
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Header photo by Julia Fay Photography