How I Started A $2K/Month Wedding Planning Service In India
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My regards to everyone who’s reading this interview. Thanks, Starter Story for providing the platform where entrepreneurs can share their journeys and ventures openly.
I set up Shaadivaale in 2018 to help clients and vendors find each other. This was the time when I was in my courtship period and was having a hard time finding suitable vendors for my own wedding. That’s when I decided that a platform need to be there where people can just go and look for options in vendors.
This allowed many vendors as well to level up their businesses and find work. This is what my vision was and I am so glad my vision is coming true to my results.
I started it in 2018 as a side business with my job. Initially, I gave my all to this and after 3 years, I can finally say that I have achieved some sort of satisfaction with the work that we’re doing. Many vendors are reliant upon us for work and it makes me so happy when people appreciate our portal after they see results coming in.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
So I got placed in a medium-sized private company in 2016 after my graduation and I served for about 4.5 years there. With the pandemic rising, I had to look for another job because things got messy there. So, I switched my job as I wasn’t still convinced to take the risk of doing my business full time. I switched and joined somewhere else as their Social Media Manager.
Being in a creative industry, and handling the digital marketing activities of the organizations gave me a great insight into how business is done. I started believing in the power of digitalization and how I was so good at it. This was the major reason why I even thought of setting up something like Shaadivaale in the first place.
I gained a lot of experience by working at my two employers and it took me 3 years to take my venture to a place where I started seeing results. It did not come easy but what surprised me most is that I wasn’t even willing to give up. Several other ideas were popping up in my mind but I never thought of the need to drop it and move onto the next one. I had my soul into it. It was clear.
I worked in the education industry and this was something totally different. The wedding industry! I mean these two are exact opposites. Somewhere, I am happy about the fact that whatever I learned on my job, I was able to execute it in my own venture as well. I did not want any investor nor I ever thought of taking any financial help from any of my personal sources. I wanted to do it on my own, from my own savings. I don’t regret anything that I did in the last 5 years. It is because of all those things that I stand here.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Since I am into the services, it is usually more complicated for me to design and offer services for my venture. We have no physical product so, customer relationship is one of the most crucial factors for us. I put my focus there. I wanted to create this space where all the clients must be heard. So, I made up a strict ethics book for us as an organization where we would literally make our clients feel valued and cared for. Trust me it’s my number 1 priority.
It’s your own journey so don’t be pressured about someone else’s journey. Some things are best learned on your own and not by someone’s advice.
My platform is quite vast with different categories of wedding vendors. To be able to maintain a relationship with several vendors from different categories, cities, zones was a task, really. We started building processes and chains to fasten up our activities.
Initially, I started with advertising costs. I did not hire anyone and did it all by myself. When I started seeing results, that was the time I hired a few super talented people.
Describe the process of launching the business.
This takes me back to 2018 when I was handling Digital marketing work at my ex-employer and the wedding day was around the corner. I created a normal Instagram page by the name of Shaadivaale and started posting on it. Gradually, I bought and build a website and did blogging. Then I launched an e-magazine by the name of WedEssence where we feature interviews of Bollywood celebrities, brands, and famous personalities.
Then we expanded into the wedding planning area. So, we have been evolving ever since we started. I incurred all the expenses on my own from whatever little savings I had. I put my savings at risk but that’s fine. You have to risk something to start.
I think my entire journey was full of lessons at different points so I cannot recall any event which looked pretty big to me. I took everything with a learning spirit and did not label my experiences. I think when you label things, they kind of get into your head and messes up. So, I recommend just keep going and keep learning naturally.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
If your spirit is up and you keep a positive outlook, I think you eventually end up finding ways or solutions to everything that comes your way. Customer Attraction is generally an easy thing, you could do that with your creativity and solid sales skills but customer retention, NOPE!
Customers will only retain when you were extra helpful to them. You got to provide some extra value to them in the best way your business can afford. If they know you are genuinely looking after their needs, they ain’t going anywhere. So that was my key, I stayed helpful, went beyond some boundaries as well and I kept my clients loyal. It’s the same as Give and take.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We have over 500 vendors registered with us so far who are doing quite well with us. The number of inquiries coming in for these vendors is also up to the mark. We are doing well in terms of sales and retention.
In the short run, there are quite a few tasks that we need to complete like documenting things more properly, etc. In the long run, we plan to get into offline and real luxe wedding planning. We also hope to open more categories of vendors on our online portal.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I learned to be practical and kind. I learned how planning plays an important role in making your dreams come true. I had to create plans that matched my vision and I had to sync it really well. I have said earlier also that one’s vision is not going to be the reason why you succeed.
The top 3 things that I think are helpful are as below:
- Do not rush things.
- Do not give up
- Research, test and Execute!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I never used any other platform to grow my business. I only used my website as the main space where I did all the activities. I used social media and Adwords for my advertising. I emphasized it on my website and used it as a hub for all the activities.
I used Mailchimpfor my email campaigns and that’s just it as of now.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am a big-time podcast lover. You could listen to hundreds of influential podcasts related to business on iOS and you would learn so much more than anticipated. It’s my daily habit, to plug in my AirPods and play any random podcast so that I am always listening to things that could be helpful to me at any point.
Not mentioning any specific names since I have no fixed favorite. I usually end up listening to any random podcast that is related to entrepreneurship.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
I think I just did in the above answers (laughs). Well, yes, it’s your own journey so don’t be pressured about someone else’s journey. Some things are best learned on your own and not by someone’s advice. I don’t think I can specifically say anything but I only know two secrets to success: Patience and Hard work.
As long as you are working in the right direction and have patience for it to show up, you’re going the right way.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I am most certainly looking for people in the business development and customer relationship area. We need more people in these two areas who can work full time for us.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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