By RISHIKA AGARWAL and NAVAM GUPTA, Founders of WedHaven.
1) What is WedHaven all about and when did it launch?
Usually, Indian wedding scenarios encompass a chaotic atmosphere as all the family members and friends of the couple are involved in the planning in one way or another. They are so focused on the redundant and monotonous duties that they miss out on the joy of the wedding. You still see family members with printed excel sheets checking off names, always busy on phones giving directions or asking for RSVPs, having to sit with the hotel staff for check-ins, running from room to room just to mention “High tea is going to be over soon”, etc., and the list is endless. WedHaven was founded with the purpose of changing the way weddings were traditionally managed using technology to “Connect Hosts, Guests & Planners – on a single platform” and for “Making Weddings Fun” for everyone! WedHaven was launched in March 2020 and is based out of Delhi. Though the times are getting tougher, weddings are still being executed and WedHaven is available no matter what.
2) What led to the ideation of WedHaven?
It all started when we witnessed wedding mismanagement of our own wedding in 2014. It involved a lot of chaos and confusion. There were stressed out parents and annoyed guests. In fact, our closest friends missed the whole baraat because they were a few minutes late and could not “find it”. And unfortunately, there were 50 other weddings on the same day! This was just the beginning. Every other wedding we attended over the years, whether as a host or a guest had its own set of mishaps.
There were instances where we got stranded at the airport for 1.5 hours due to some miscommunication on the driver’s end. As hosts, we felt frustrated when guests kept calling us regarding event locations. And as guests, we were tired of bothersome calls just to be told “High tea is getting over in 30 minutes.” It’s a long list of problems, which should not exist in the 2020s. Being engineers at heart, we realized that this redundant pattern of chaos in weddings must come to an end and that’s how WedHaven was born.
3) How does it work and what all features does it provide?
The concept as a whole is quite novel as it enables people to enjoy the wedding and forget any stress. Not only does it help save time, save money and reduce repetitive tasks, it provides the users with a unique, on-the-go, always connected platform. The hosts are able to keep their guests up to date all the time and also have the means to efficiently manage the wedding from anywhere and anytime via the app. The guests, on the other hand are provided with a sleek interface to access all wedding information, update their RSVP status, are always up to date via smart notifications and are part of this closed social space dedicated to the wedding.
Here are a list of features WedHaven offers:
- Guest management – You can simply import your phone contacts into the app and create a guest list instantly or share the list with WedHaven support and they will do it for you. Hosts can create groups of guests and invite them to specific functions. It also shows the host the total number of guests confirmed along with the guest list for every occasion(mehendi, sangeet, reception, etc.)
- Picture Album- Hosts are able to share their pre-wedding shoots and family pictures with all their Guests and the Guests are able to upload high quality photos that they take for the hosts to view and download. Everything is private and you Guests are prompted via notifications to upload photos after the events are done.
- Event Scheduling- Think of this as an online invitation card, Hosts provide details about the events (Haldi, Sangeet, etc), the timing/date and location, which can then be viewed by the Guests for up-to-date information and getting directions. Any updates made by the Hosts are immediately notified to the Guests.
- Baraat Live Tracking- Hosts can enable Live Baraat Tracking and share the latest location of the Baraat with all the wedding guests (as well as the Bride).
- Personalized wall & real-time updates – Each wedding has a dedicated social space where the Hosts and Guests can mingle by posting messages, photos and videos, it can be used for just about anything from sharing updates to playing games 🙂
- Co-hosts – Simply put, you are not alone in managing your wedding; you can add any number of people as your co-hosts and have them manage various aspects, right from the app!
- Security and moderation – All your data is secure and only accessible by people who you allow, there is also built in moderation for who all can join the wedding and see the details. Hosts are in control of everything!
All these features are available on a mobile app (available on both iOS and Android). We have a freemium model, where there’s a basic set of functionality available to use for free and an option to upgrade to unlock more advanced features.
Free set of functionality includes Creating & Attending multiple weddings, Inviting people to join via code/link, Add and share detailed wedding schedules, Announcements, Real time updates with notifications & reminders and Sharing of photos with guests.
We then have our paid upgrade known as “WedHaven Gold” which provides added functionality like live Baraat tracking, Guest list creation using phonebook, Co-hosts to share the load, customized Groups to help manage guests better for various functions, RSVP tracking for events and much more. This starts at Rs. 999 only for a 50 guest wedding. We also have a live smart invite for Rs. 499 only.
4) How has the target audience response been?
Our target audience is anyone involved in the process of hosting a wedding, be it the couples themselves, their families and friends or the wedding planners. The audience response has been quite interesting actually – while it did take some effort to get people accustomed to this concept, but once we got through to them, it really made their tasks easier and helped them have a stress-free wedding. From the planners perspective, this allows them to work much more efficiently and are able to manage large scale weddings in a more seamless manner.
5) Did WedHaven see any ups and downs during the lockdown?
Definitely, as we all know the wedding and hospitality industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, we did suffer the impact too. The restrictions on the guest limit being upto 50, which mainly comprises the family members in our big Indian families, customers felt there wasn’t much need for a wedding management app. However for the people who used it in the first lockdown, they found it quite useful to be able to keep the guests updated as the situation was very volatile (the state rules kept changing) and being able to easily manage multiple groups of 50 people via the app’s guest management and groups feature.
Overall the Covid era has had and still has its challenges but one thing we are seeing is that customers are a lot more open to new technology and ideas, which is helpful for us as our product is challenging the status quo around how we manage weddings.
6) With Technology in the picture, how would you describe the evolution of the Wedding Business?
From dating and matchmaking to post-wedding gifts and honeymoons, technology is present in most aspects of weddings now, making people’s lives easier at every step of the way. Using technology not only helps you save time and money in a plethora of ways, but is also environment friendly and helps you do things on-the-go. It gives people more control on how to organize their special day and plan things their way, all from the comfort of their homes (specially now) and with a lot more ease than before. Be it creating digital invitations, finding venues, finalizing vendors, managing guests, tracking their RSVP status, providing real-time updates about everything or live-streaming the event – everything can be done online, with that little device in your pocket, while you are sitting on the couch or in your car. And the role of technology in weddings is only poised to grow in the times to come!
7) When did you decide to take the entrepreneurship route and what suggestions would you like to give those who would like to take up the same route?( Here we can mention the previous education and work experience as well)
We actually knew we wanted to start something of our own since our college days. But we decided we needed to gain some industry experience first, so that we understand how things are done in the real world and then apply all our learnings to our startup. In parallel, we were always on the lookout for new ideas and potential businesses, along with that we took courses on marketing, sales, business management, etc. to get a more holistic understanding. After 5 years, we ran into issues surrounding the wedding industry and decided it’s time to try our hand at entrepreneurship!
Some tips for folks wanting to go down this route:
- Real world experience helps move things along a lot smoother: As an entrepreneur starting a new business, you will always be learning new things however the more things you know beforehand, the quicker you can move.
- You can’t do everything, but you can know the basics: It’s common knowledge you cannot and should not try to do everything in your business and hire domain experts for the things you don’t know. However with that said you shouldn’t be completely vague in other domains outside your expertise, you are leading this initiative, you should be able to talk to your team in their language.
8) What did you learn about entrepreneurship in the initial months of WedHaven launch?
Simply put entrepreneurship is not an easy ride, in fact it is more like a high speed roller coaster. There are days when you feel like nothing is working out and start to question if it’s even worth all this time and effort? But then, when you listen to one happy customer or read one good review, it really instills the faith back in you and pushes you to move forward with even more strength and determination.
Starting from planning and hiring to launch and customer outreach, every step of the way is a challenge in itself and an invaluable life lesson. The greatest learning encompassing all these aspects is to just believe in yourself, your mission and never give up despite any failures or hurdles.
9) Did you have any apprehensions/concerns before implementing WedHaven?
Of course, we had apprehensions! Our families weren’t sure about WedHaven, neither were our friends and given that we didn’t really have a competitor in the Indian marketspace doing something similar, it was an interesting challenge to back our feelings about WedHaven with actual data.
So we did what anyone who wants to collect data does, we created simple surveys around weddings in India, issues people have, how they feel about its planning and management and what kind of tech (if any) they have come across? Also, on the side we started talking with people in the wedding industry e.g. Planners, Photographers, Hotels and other venues etc. to get an understanding of how they felt the experience could be better. Once we had enough data, it was quite easy to see that there is a real need here and that WedHaven has a fighting chance out there.
10) What is the roadmap ahead?
Our ultimate goal is to create a one-stop solution for all your wedding management needs, so you can just focus on having fun! Our roadmap reflects the same, now that we’ve got a stable base and all the basic needs built in WedHaven, we are looking to provide solutions for transportation and hospitality management for weddings and adding some tools that help with planning like Budgeting and Checklist. This is really just the start for us, we have a very robust and diversified roadmap ahead which we are really excited about. So if you have a wedding in the family, do check out WedHaven 🙂