One of the challenges for startups going after the weddings space is that they must constantly acquire new users – at least before the word-of-mouth momentum kicks in, as brides, grooms and guests tell their soon-to-marry friends about the various wedding-related services they used last. A Raleigh, N.C. area startup called WedPics now believes it has found its footing, having hosted 75,000 weddings to date since its launch last August, and claims to now be seeing around 3,000 weddings on its platform every weekend.
This platform, which allows couples and guests to document every aspect from their weddings from engagement through the honeymoon, originally emerged from the team’s previous efforts in collaborative photo-sharing with an app called Deja Mi, started back in early 2011. That app had seen some early success – for instance, a partnership with IBM for three of their conferences even helped the company generate revenue in its first six months of operation.
But the team decided to go after a more specific use case, especially as it became ever more apparent that Instagram had won the generic, mobile photo-sharing space, at least for the time being.
WedPics initially begin as a photo-sharing app for iOS and Android as well as a web service which could aggregate photos from the couples’ big day, But almost immediately after launch, the team realized it was being used well ahead of – and after – the actual event itself, and adjusted its marketing approach to match. Today, users tend to adopt the app on average around 6 months before the wedding, and around 35% of WedPics’ content is derived after the wedding wraps.
According to founder Justin Miller, roughly 20% of the U.S. market uses apps like WedPics today, and of that market WedPics accounts for 45% of that usage, he explains, citing his own investigations using AppAnnie data. To date, WedPics has seen over 5 million photos and videos added to its service, with over 200,000 uploads every week, he adds. And it has been used by over 600,000 guests and 120,000 couples. “One in every ten weddings now in the U.S. is using WedPics,” claims Miller.
It’s difficult to validate how any given mobile wedding app compares to another because in Apple’s iOS App Store – of the key platforms for analyzing traction – the apps end up ranked in different categories. For example, WedPics’ top competitor Wedding Party is ranked highly (top 100) for “Social Networking” while WedPics is ranked highly (in and just barely out of top 100) for “Photo and Video.” Even with visibility into “active” users, it would depend on when that data was gathered, because the wedding season has its own peaks and dips, not only in terms of months out of the year, but also days of the week.
However, for a point of comparison, according to Wedding Party co-founder Ajay Kamat, his app has seen more weddings to date than WedPics. “We’ve done hundreds of thousands of weddings in 2013 and are on pace to double that next year,” Kamat told us.
Both startups have roughly the same amount of funding, too. Wedding Party raised a million from NEA and Felicis Ventures earlier this year, while WedPics closed its $1.1 million angel-backed seed round this May, with participation from mainly local investors like Bob Young (Red Hat), Alex Osadzinski (previously of Trinity Ventures), and Jed Carlson (co-founder ReverbNation), among others. WedPics is now hoping to close its Series A before the holidays.
The company has just switched on its monetization efforts, too, through a recent partnership with Picture.com to offer hardcover photo books (8×8 books, free through this month), as well as integration with Kodak’s new developer API for handling photo prints at places like Target in the U.S. And though WedPics hasn’t yet marketed the print solution, it saw 150 orders for prints in its first weekend from people finding the feature in the WedPics app on their own.
Now a team of 13, the company plans to take on the international market next, with plans to support other English-speaking countries like the U.K. and Australia, as well as other markets where it’s seeing traction in Europe and Southeast Asia.
Miller also teases an upcoming launch, due out before year-end, which will make WedPics a “truly social wedding platform” and something that “every couple will have to have for their wedding,” but declined to provide details. Stay tuned.