Today, The Desi Bride has been fully active for 365 days! As we celebrate our first birthday, I want to take a moment to reflect on the year and thank everyone for their incredible support.
In 2019, after I planned my own wedding and realized the frustrations of planning a #bigfatindian wedding and talking to a handful of friends who had similar complaints, I decided to start working on nights and weekends to create a solution that provides transparency to South Asian couples and makes wedding planning less stressful. Last October, I left my day job to give The Desi Bride my 110% attention in hopes to create more transparency in the wedding industry.
Celebrating our startup wins
Over the last year, we’ve had a series of exciting wins:
- Built a community of 300 vendors. When I first started the company as a team of one, it was challenging to get the first vendor and then the next 10 wedding vendors and so on. It’s been such a fun journey to talk to different vendors from venues to photographers to makeup artists and more and hear their story and frustrations. We would not be here today without our strong vendor community and are excited about continuing to partner with them to build a platform that truly helps the South Asian bride make the best decisions for herself and disrupt the Indian wedding industry.
- Received over 3K monthly visitors. I remember how hard we worked to get our first 100 followers and then eventually our first 1,000 followers. In today’s world of social media, where influencers can easily have tens of thousands of followers, we felt so nascent in our journey. We slowly grew from 100-ish visits to The Desi Bride a month to well over 3,000 monthly visits and started seeing double digit month over month growth.
- Helped over 30 couples sign contracts with vendors. My favorite part about this job and the work we do is when we get to help couples find their dream vendors and decrease the stress in planning a wedding. We’ve had so many South Asian brides, grooms, parents and siblings tell us that they’re grateful for a resource like The Desi Bride and it has made their life easier. We’ve had multiple brides tell us that we helped save the day and help them find a new wedding vendor when their previous contract fell through.
- Grown from a 1 woman-team to an incredible team of 8. Working as a solo woman founder means that you have to come up with the product strategy, create the social media posts, make sure your legal work is squared away, communicate with vendors and couples --- the list goes on and on. I’m so grateful to have built such a supportive and instrumental team in helping us truly scale our impact. Thank you to all of the current, past, and future team members of The Desi Bride!
- Moved to GSV's pitch competition round two to become featured as one of their bootcamp’s top 25 startups. While I’ve seen many pitches through my experience at Techstars, I had never created a pitch deck for my own company. Having recently come back from vacation with 48 hours to turn around a pitch deck, I had planned to take the easy way out and go back on my initial plan to pitch. Thankfully, one of their partners encouraged me to pull together a deck and just pitch. I’m grateful for her encouragement and the experience of pitching through GSV. It is both nerve-racking and empowering to be able to share your story and vision with others.
Startup Lessons Learned
While it has been an incredible year, it’s also had its challenges. I constantly hear that as an entrepreneur, the highs are high, and the lows are low. I’ve learned that the lows are really low, and I’d like to share three lessons I learned as a female South Asian entrepreneur over the year.
- Focus and prioritize brutally. While having a community of couples, vendors, and mentors is amazing, everyone also has a different perspective and guidance. It’s impossible to act on all of the guidance as you have limited time and resources. My team and I spent two months redesigning our website after feedback from a community member. On the day of the launch, I decided to cancel the launch. Our goal was to drive traffic and awareness at the time, and while launching a new design may look more sophisticated and beautiful, it would not necessarily help us with that goal. I wasted two months of resources on something no one will ever see, but it taught me the importance of constantly focusing and re-prioritizing based on our goals.
- Be persistent. Building a community of vendors that can range from billion-dollar hotels to a one-woman shop from her home is tough. Every vendor has different needs and requires a level of customization. My team and I have spent hundreds of hours looking for vendors, curating vendors, reaching out to vendors, following up with vendors etc. It’s frustrating to either receive no answer or a “No, I don’t understand the value of being on your platform.” The number of hours I’ve spent on mail merge or testing different ways to land in someone’s general inbox instead of the promotions folder, or the hours spent creating content, is painful to think back to. But it has paid off in its own way. Today, we have vendors who once never responded actually come back and ask us how they can join. Today, we are on page 1 of Google without investing a single dollar in paid advertising.
- Build a support system. As a solo entrepreneur, while I have an incredible team, it’s not the same as having access to a sounding board as I was used to having in my previous roles. It’s challenging to find people who understand and relate to the world of entrepreneurs unless they’ve gone through a similar experience. I’m grateful to have built relationships with a supportive and giving community of mentors through my time with Techstars, Capital Factory, and other networks, like Kellogg, Samsung, and Amazon. To everyone who has provided me and The Desi Bride with time, guidance, and references selflessly, THANK YOU!
Thank you for your support
Finally, I’d like to sincerely thank our community of fans, vendors, couples, mentors, and team members.
- To our fans and couples, thank you for using our product, bearing with us as we improve it, leaving reviews, and providing guidance to help us help future couples.
- To our vendors, thank you for working patiently with us and being willing to partner and provide your ongoing support and feedback.
- To our mentors, I am constantly grateful for your time, advice, and support. We would not have made the strides we did this year without you.
- To my team (former and current), thank you for dedicating your time and energy to go on this adventure with me. It has been such a rewarding experience to work with you and build something that makes others’ lives better.
I am so excited to embark on year two of The Desi Bride with you! We have lots of exciting features in-store and look forward to getting to know our community even better this year. I look forward to continuing to connect with you and meeting new faces.
Cheers to an incredible first year of wins, lessons learned and building a community, and on to year two of our journey to disrupt wedding planning!
Arjita | Founder of The Desi Bride