The Wed Clique Co-Founders Leverage Mountain Climbing Experience to Simplify Wedding Planning

The Wed Clique’s e-commerce platform is making the antiquated wedding planning process more efficient by giving wedding venues and vendors bookable business through connected styled shoots and one-click weddings.

The Wed Clique is a B2B e-commerce platform for packaged wedding services. Lisa Ganderson, co-founder and CEO of The Wed Clique, mentions that a lot of iteration has taken place in a short period of time to get to today’s company vision.

Her very good friend, fellow business school graduate from Duke, and now co-founder, Rachael Classi, had moved back to [Durham]. Their personalities and skillsets complement each other – Classi is creative and excels on the marketing and product side while Ganderson is more analytical and finds success on the financial side.

They first met after signing up for Duke’s outdoor leadership club. The group trained and traveled to South America to climb Nevado Chachani – a 19,000-foot mountain in Peru.

“It was also this experience of doing something – yes, physically incredibly demanding but mentally more so a [challenge] of getting up a mountain when you’re just so tired, can’t breathe, and can’t feel anything. You go that with someone and it is like, ‘well we can do anything together!’”

To catch up over coffee they agreed to meet half way between Charlotte and Durham and they found themselves complaining about the wedding planning process – they both had recently gotten married. “We [both] hated the process for a million different reasons”, Ganderson notes.

It’s an inefficient process, but most brides only go through it one time, so in most cases, the process can get away with being inefficient – people simply put up with it.

After the initial brainstorming session, “we [started] building sort of a Slack for wedding planning.” In November 2016, they beta tested the app and found users were spending a significant time merely going through the contact directory – essentially using it as LinkedIn. “Their relationships with each other are what drives most of their business.”

“That’s obviously the thing [vendors] want. We threw out the mobile app and started over, and released a new MVP in January.” In the midst of all this, The Wed Clique was accepted into Tech Stars – their Austin program. So the team, with a two week old MVP, moved down to Texas for three months.

Through describing the business to mentors and listening to their questions – Ganderson and her team were able to better understand the gaps in their idea. “It starts to open up all these holes that we never saw.”

This influenced The Wed Clique to iterate into a B2B e-commerce platform.

The first thing millennial couples are doing is going to Pinterest and Instagram. “They know what visually they want this to look like, but they’ve never done something like [this] before.” The couple, today, has to piece together the vendor team – one by one – that hopefully can turn that pretty picture into a reality.

The majority of staged wedding photos on Pinterest are from styled shoots, meticulously created by vendors to showcase their style – purely for marketing purposes. “[But these] are getting showcased on national channels when these are localized services.”

“[Vendors have] already been working together to create these styled shoots, so we take all those styled shoots, we find out which venues that these occurred at and for every venue that’s part of our network, we make them a bookable portfolio of weddings.”

So The Wed Clique gives venues the capability to show a bride how the room(s) look in varying themes – a garden theme, an edgy-urban theme,  an airy-bohemian theme, etc. “She can actually then click into those styles and see the vendor team that created that shoot at the venue. So it becomes this really known, transparent process for the bride.”

When the bride chooses her dream style, she can then click to book that entire vendor team for her wedding date.

“For the vendors, [we’re] booking them the right kind of business – not just handing them a lot of unqualified leads.”

This summer they plan to pilot one-click weddings. “We are working with a couple venues in Charlotte and in the Triangle to go through that process – start to finish with a bride at that venue with the vendor packages.”

The Wed Clique team at this point is Ganderson, her co-founder and COO Classi, their tech lead James Mensch, with Katelin Resta on the business development and customer support side.

They recently were awarded an NCidea grant which will be used for marketing and customer acquisition.

Even from her brief time in Charlotte so far – she and her husband moved here last April – she’s a big supporter of growing the Charlotte startup ecosystem. “I think the great thing about Charlotte that it probably gets undervalued for is the people – everyone is so nice and so helpful.”

“Everyone equally wants this place to grow and to be more of an entrepreneurial hub, and they’re willing to do the work to make that happen and the make introductions.”

Her guidance for young entrepreneurs is to commit. “You have to be committed to putting in the work but you also have to be committed to being continuously intellectually honest and being okay with iterating and listening to feedback.”

You have to be committed to climbing all 19,000 feet. “And then you have to get back down!” Ganderson says while laughing.

It’s the perfect metaphor – when you have to completely scrap the app or product that you just spent weeks or months building because your customers don’t want it and it doesn’t fill a need, your only choice is to go back drawing board. The unwavering commitment will lead to continuous progress, one foot at a time.