ShaadiMagic.com has a network of over 1.75 lakh vendors of wedding related goods and services all across India. When I spoke to Mr. Manish Grover, the co-founder, I had referred to his venture like the ‘Google search of Wedding services in India’. Read his story and tell me if you agree.
In 2009, Mr. Grover had tried his hand at setting up a venture in the education consultancy space, but this hadn’t worked out. After this, he felt that he needed to do something in the mobile/web space but wasn’t sure what that would be. It’s not the first time I have heard about a case of the ‘entrepreneurial bug’ and it certainly won’t be the last.
In 2010, while at a friend’s wedding, Mr. Grover noticed that the Boy’s family had made all the arrangements! Now, I know, we live in a modern society and my previous statement may have sounded like something from the 70’s, but before passing me off as orthodox – The boy’s family had to make all the arrangements as the girl’s family was not able to find any venue of the required size in their area, and they didn’t know any venue or other services outside their city. Imagine wanting to organise your own wedding but literally not being able to because you don’t know the right people!
Managing to identify the opportunity here was just the start of Mr. Grover’s venture. After some research of the related players in the ‘shaadi’ market, he had figured that there was no aggregator or search platform of wedding related services in India. Shaadimagic.com was set up to become just that.
The first step was to generate awareness among the ‘end customers’. Without much knowledge of content management systems like WordPress and the likes, they set up a platform which allowed them to share the latest trends in weddings, be it from décor, food or fashion to name a few. They had also built the infrastructure which would allow them to list new service providers as per the category of service and location in which they operated.
Their first set of vendors was actually listed from contacts they generated from friends and family who had tied the knot recently. The trust factor with vendors who had been engaged recently was high and they managed to list a few of them on the platform.
In these early stages, Mr. Grover made it a point to take part in as many Business plan contests as possible. He may not have won too many, but he made it to the top 10 in quite a few. This allowed him to get his idea and venture some advice from seasoned players in the field. Among other things, their advice to him at the time was to aim at scaling up city by city.
However, over the next few stages, Mr. Grover and team had a different idea of scaling up the operation. They had, till then being focusing on just the premium service providers so as to ensure quality. But as time went by, they saw that this had limited their audience when it came to service providers as well as readers. I feel that the most important change they made was to open their platform for vendors across all ranges of quality and price. Also, not taking the advice of their mentors too strictly allowed to put a foot in the door in many cities across the country, although out of the 1.75 lakh vendors in India, they have 20,000 in Delhi. Quite the grey area between taking and not taking advice, I’d say.
It is when they opened their listings to include all the vendors is when I truly felt that they had the Google in their category. On the funnier side, in their expansion phase, I asked Mr. Grover about the challenges they had faced, to which he said – When anyone new heard the name ‘ShaadiMagic’, they would assume it to be matrimonial site. These assumptions would be soon proven wrong when the vendors would get an increase in number of leads after getting on the platform.
Another thing worth mentioning about Mr. Grover’s ideologies is that he is always looking to improve the tech in the site to allow for increasing efficiency and improving design. Regardless of whether they were scaling up operations, or looking to target new cities, they have always looked at improving the experience of the user as they grow. This, I feel has been the catalyst of how they have been able to adapt the website in order to cater to a deeper filtering of the service providers which would make it easier for both the vendors and the customers in finding each other.
Innovation isn’t only seen in their tech, Mr. Grover and team have kept their eyes and ears open to new opportunities to serve their customers better. This has lead them to set up a division of wedding planning experts inside the company, who provide customers the best advice suitable to every kind of wedding at any budget. Talk about being nimble!
Mr. Grover’s message to young entrepreneurs was to develop their patience, as, in the field of entrepreneurship, things don’t always go as per plan. When they have the passion for what they are doing, keep at it with a goal in mind, even if it means working a job to pay the bills. There is no set path to ‘making things happen’, and that’s the thrill of entrepreneurship.
The best businesses are born from solving the simplest of problems, and Shaadimagic solves a problem for a vast number of people in India. Good idea, Better execution, Best outcome. Wishing the very best to Mr. Grover and Shaadimagic!
– Abhishek Kaul