Building online event planning software with two guys and a fistful of dollars

Building online event planning software with two guys and a fistful of dollarsWhat is the name of your business and your URLs?

Our business name is My Wedding Workbook LLC, and we operate a few different products/sites, including:

My Wedding Workbook – for brides

My Wedding Workbook Pro – for wedding consultants

Planning Pod for DJs

Planning Pod for Photographers

Planning Pod for Event Planners

A brief synopsis of our products.

Our online wedding planner software makes it easier for couples and wedding consultants to plan weddings and stay organized, and our other event planning software, photography studio software and DJ booking software products give event professionals the tools they need to run their business more efficiently.

Why did you start this company?

Why would two guys start a company in the wedding business? To be honest, the idea of our business came from the wife of one of the founders. She was planning her wedding and couldn’t find any comprehensive online software that would help her plan every wedding-related event – from her engagement party through her honeymoon. Jeff and Steve, the two founders, had been in the marketing and advertising industry for 20 years and had been looking for a product to launch on their own, and they decided this was a great niche opportunity.

So they built the first wedding planner software application, My Wedding Workbook, and soon they were getting requests from other event professionals – wedding planners, event planners, photographers and DJs – for Web-based tools they could use to better manage their businesses and serve their clients.

How long have we been in business?

We started in 2009.

Was your company started on a shoestring budget or funded?

Our company was self-funded by the two founders and remains so to this day. Early on, we spoke with a few of our peers who have founded VC-funded online businesses as well as other angel investors, and we learned more than a few valuable things from them. 1) Nobody will really be serious about investing unless we started showing reasonable revenues or dramatic jumps in usage and/or traffic. 2) If we were to pursue angel investing, from the start we should expect to get smaller chunks of capital in exchange for smaller pieces of the company plus annual dividends that reflect their ownership share.

After hearing this, we decided to continue self-funding and offer our contractors sweat equity opportunities, as they were already invested in the project and wanted to take a more active role in the company (and when an employee or contractor is excited about becoming part of your young startup, you should jump at the chance to offer them an equity share in exchange for their labor). This significantly cuts down on labor costs, spreads the risk and gives more people incentive to make the business work.

Why would a small business, entrepreneur, freelancer, etc., use your product?

The founders have run a number of small businesses in the past and know how difficult it is to run a business by yourself, so they set out to create a piece of affordable, simple software that gives entrepreneurs the tools typically enjoyed by much larger organizations.

Most businesses in the events industry are sole proprietorships and small businesses with less than 10 employees, and so we built all our professional products for the small business owner. They are easy to use and don’t require lots of setup or learning time (because business owners don’t have any time to waste).

In addition, they combine all the tools these professionals would need to run their business. They have calendaring and appointment tools (that also integrated with most electronic calendars), contact and lead management tools, finance tools (estimates, contracts, proposals, invoices and money in/out ledger), project management tools (like task managers, to-do lists, etc.) and client collaboration tools (like shared calendars and notes). Plus, they pull all these tools together in one place so that small businesses and entrepreneurs don’t have to cobble together lots of different tools that don’t work together, saving effort and money.

And, since everything is online, the small business owner doesn’t have to worry about backing up their data or losing it via a hard drive crash because everything is saved and backed up on our secure servers.

Do you offer free online or offline tools?

We do not offer offline tools, and we did offer free tools to brides/couples at one point, but we decided instead to charge for those tools. We do offer a free trial for our professional set of tools because it gives people a longer-term opportunity to try our tools and get accustomed to them. When a person purchases any piece of software, they typically have to adapt in some fashion to using the software, and a free trial gives them time to get used to the system and if it will be a fit for them in the long term.

Building online event planning software with two guys and a fistful of dollarsAre there different pricing levels?

For our professional tools, we do offer different pricing levels, and they depend on how many events you are planning at any given time. We offer a monthly subscription and will soon offer a yearly subscription option with a discount for those customers.

How do you see your company in the next 2-5 years?

This is a difficult question to answer because, if you asked us 2 years ago where we would be today, we would have told you we would be serving only brides/engaged couples. This is one of the great assets in being a small startup, in that you can quickly change focus and adapt to market changes if you find a niche that is more profitable or expanding.

For example, our idea for building event planning software tools for event professionals came from the professionals themselves who found our consumer-focused product and wanted something similar for themselves that would help them stay better organized. When you get feedback like that, it deserves serious attention and tells you that there may be an underserved part of the marketplace. Of course, you need to do your due diligence and learn more about any new market you are thinking about pursuing. But, once we did the research and talked to lots of event professionals about what they would need, we decided to create something for those new markets. Our most recent products – photography studio software and DJ booking software – are simply an extension of this effort to reach out to new markets.

So, in the next 2-5 years, we will be building out our customer bases for our current products, listening to the feedback from our customers and other audiences, and determining how we can leverage our existing technologies to pursue yet other markets.

This brings up another point about being aggressive. Companies who are the incumbent in a category usually want to preserve the status quo and so are only aggressive about protecting their own turf. Thus, there isn’t as much incentive for them to innovate and expand into new markets as well as improve their existing products. So, for startups, there is lots of incentive to innovate categories and bring new products and ideas to the marketplace.

What other web based products would you recommend to entrepreneurs, business owners, or freelancers?

We have lots of online tools we use regularly, and we would recommend (great business phone service for startups), (excellent SEO guidance and advice), (easy to use checklist tool) and, as a great charitable site,, where you can make microloans to entrepreneurs across the globe.

Are you on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, and do you have a blog?

Yes, you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and check us out on LinkedIn. And we have a blog for brides and a blog for wedding consultants.

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