The Indian wedding industry is estimated to be around $40 billion and is still a highly unorganised and fragmented market. Weddingz, India’s largest wedding company, has successfully simplified the process of wedding planning by enabling discovery, information, availability, budgeting and transaction on one platform with a pan India service presence.
Team NewsBarons spoke with Sandeep Lodha, Founder and CEO at Weddingz.in about the Indian wedding industry, the complete end to end service package plan from weddingz.in and his thoughts on the Marriage Bill 2016.
NB: What inspired the creation of weddingz.in?
Sandeep: The Weddingz story started with its founder Sandeep Lodha, who returned to India after spending several years in the US. While he remembered the pains of organizing his own wedding a few years earlier, he now found it extremely challenging to plan his brother’s wedding – It was a tedious process to put together a list of options and go to different corners of the city just to check availability and prices. The problem became bigger since the family had a destination wedding in mind. Adding to the frustration was going through endless rounds of negotiations with every single vendor. This is where the idea of Weddingz.in was born – to help others plan and execute their weddings, while problem solving for making it an enjoyable rather than cumbersome process.
NB: Please define your services/offerings?
Sandeep: We are India’s Largest Wedding Company. Wedding and event planning is a fairly unorganized and fragmented market. From discovery of information and options, to data on availability and pricing and even the actual booking process is quite cumbersome for anyone wanting to plan or book service providers in this category. There isn’t one place to go for all you wedding planning needs unless you go to a boutique wedding planning service. Most such services are only available to people who are planning events in a higher price category. This immediate need in the wedding market was a call to action which is when Weddingz was born. Started in 2015, we aim to simplify the process of wedding planning by enabling discovery, information, availability, budgeting and transaction on one platform. Why stop there, we are also enabling wedding retail and creating an exhaustive idea bank to help our users plan the wedding of their dreams. Everything you want for your wedding, from venues to vendors to clothes to ideas, you’ll get it all here. We have more than 2000 venues and 2000 vendors listed across 10 locations in India including major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. We have more than 150 designers in categories like bridal wear, jewellery, accessories and gifting listed with us. We also give customers guaranteed lowest prices that are upto 30% lower than the market rate, assisted venue visits and hassle-free booking. You can login and shortlist/check availability of venues yourself or call us to get help and recommendations. By providing such a large repository of information, we help customers organize their dream wedding with great discounts.
NB: What is the size of the Indian wedding industry and growth rate y-o-y?
Sandeep: Indian Wedding industry is estimated to be a 40 billion dollar industry and is estimated to be growing at 25% Y-o-Y
NB: What is your annual growth rate?
Sandeep: We are growing at 100 % annually. Our revenue has doubled every year.
NB: How do you differentiate yourself from other similar service providers?
Sandeep: There are several players in the wedding planning industry. We are the only player who will give you end-to-end wedding planning from venues to services to gifts as a complete solution. All other players in the industry provide information to customers and get them in touch with the vendors. The customer still has to go through the hassle of negotiating with multiple vendors and hoping that they turn up on the day of the wedding. We assure best prices and also ensure that vendors turn up on the day of the wedding and the service is delivered as promised. This is in line with our vision of helping customers “Celebrate wedding planning as much as the wedding”.
NB: What is your geographical reach and organizing capacity?
Sandeep: We are present in Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Greater Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Rajasthan (Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer), Goa, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Punjab, Surat and Ahmedabad.
We are currently organizing 200+ weddings every month and growing at a 20-25% rate month on month. We have a huge directory of 2000+ venues (including destination wedding venues) with a team strength of over 120 employees across 10 locations and over 5000 vendors registered with Weddingz.in
NB: What are the challenges that you face in this market?
Sandeep: The wedding market is very disorganized and fragmented. There are no standardizations when it comes to pricing, quality and service. This has been our biggest market challenge when trying to bring about cohesiveness in the industry. Much like hospitality, the wedding industry also needs to focus on customer experience, to make wedding planning a joy for wedding families. This is a challenge we are striving to overcome through the Weddingz platform.
NB: You are looking at raising another roundof funds. Wheredo you plan to deploy these funds?
Sandeep: We are looking at increasing our presence across India. Our focus remains giving the best value to customers and partners across the country and we will continue our efforts in making the wedding planning process smooth and hassle-free in every location that we operate in.
NB: Please share your thoughts on the ‘The Marriages (Compulsory Registration and Prevention of Wasteful Expenditure) Bill, 2016’ slated to be passed soon?
Sandeep: While wasteful expenditure should not be encouraged since there are obvious negative repercussions to the environment; in a democracy with an autonomous economy, capping the spend on weddings is not a great idea. Hopefully, demonetization should have brought about some correction in the country’s black money problems, which then in effect should take away this problem of wasteful expenditure to a certain extent. One cannot mitigate the problem of dirty money by such a simplistic measure, which in effect is the purpose of the bill. The same money, if not spent in a wedding can be spent on property, luxury brands, travel etc. Large events and weddings create jobs and employment to a large number of the blue collar workforce. Also, for people who are paying taxes and have saved up for a special day will be taxed again if they chose to go beyond the spend limit. This is unfair towards that segment of the country’s population that’s doing things right.