Nearlyweds Raises $500K, Acquires OneWed, Aims to Make Tying the Knot Simpler
Seattle-based social wedding software company Nearlyweds said today it has closed a $500,000 equity financing round from Founder’s Co-op, Jon Kelly, Andy Liu, David Niu, and other investors. The startup also announced it has acquired Chicago-based OneWed for an undisclosed amount.
Nearlyweds, founded in 2007, designs personalized wedding websites for couples for a flat rate. The company first popped up on our radar last year when it earned an investment from Founder’s Co-op. According to chief executive John Scrofano, the growing company is diving into the online wedding services market at an interesting point of change in the industry—a turning away from the “traditional American” wedding, and an embracing of the more unique and personalized.
“Couples are asking ‘why’ to many things, including themes, bridal parties, venues, etc. And we are seeing both an inclusion of more ethnic heritage traditions at the same time as things that are not traditional at all, but totally unique to the couple,” Scrofano said via e-mail. “This is bad news for mega-generic wedding industrial complex media outlets who write content aimed at ‘traditional American.'” It’s good news, however, for Nearlyweds, he adds.
Nearlyweds’ small team is competing against the ranks of bigger players like TheKnot. But smaller upstarts like Nearlyweds have an advantage over larger companies, which tend to have more generic offerings, he says. Indeed, Nearlyweds prides itself on its customizable, personalized options for couples planning their big day.
Although the company did not disclose how much revenue it brought in last year, Scrofano did say it doubled from 2008 to 2009, and that Nearlyweds is on pace to do between four and five times that amount in 2010, including the acquisition. With the new financing and acquisition of OneWed, Scrofano says Nearlyweds will be well-placed to blossom in the growing online wedding-planning market. OneWed, which currently gets between 250,000 and 500,000 unique visitors to its website a month, and has a database of 25,000 bridal vendors, will substantially add to the company’s traffic base, he says. “OneWed accelerates our vision dramatically,” he says. “We were not awesome at building a large audience. OneWed is great at building a large audience.”
OneWed’s 10-person staff will stay in their current office in Chicago under the Nearlyweds umbrella. The new deal, according to Scrafano, will allow his company to expand on its current revenue model. Wedding planning companies, he says, generally make money in three ways—advertising with local vendors, advertising with national vendors (such as David’s Bridal, and Crate and Barrel), and selling products and services marketed direct to customers.
“We see lots of opportunity for innovation online in categories one and three. Nearlyweds’ was good at one and three, and getting better,” he says. “OneWed creates a huge opportunity for us in category one (vendors) and a base on which to make some moves quickly.”
Scrofano also plans to capitalize on the cultural shifts he’s noticed in the wedding sector, incorporating even more personalization and social elements to help make wedding planning as easy as possible for couples getting ready to walk the aisle (figuratively, for the less traditional).
“Wedding planning is already inherently social, but there are only anemic online offerings that play to that fundamental core part of the process,” he says, adding that Nearlyweds’ goal is to make that process “simpler, more social, and more fun.”