Elevator pitches, weddings and babies

At OpenPlans, we’re busy signing up new clients for our products & services, and we’re also spending a lot of time fundraising (from individual donors, foundations, etc.).  As such, I’ve been thinking about how we pitch our organization, and have recently spent some time over the past few days reading some of the great stuff over at VentureHacks. Their book, Pitching Hacks covers the fundamentals, from what matter to investors (traction), to how to get introductions, to how to structure your pitches (whether high-concept, elevator, or slide deck).

Then, this morning while reading Hacker News (or more specifically Nirmal J. Patel’s full-content RSS of Hacker News), I came across this posting which caught my eye:

Technical co-founder wanted for disrupting the wedding industry.

Hi, my name is Tracy. The wedding industry is huge, overpriced, and with insane profit margins. I’m looking to disrupt it with WeddingType.

In wedding invitations alone, there are two options: spend hundreds of dollars for custom designed invitations (expensive but pretty), or do-it-yourself (cheap but ugly). I want to build a web application catering to the price sensitive couples who have an aversion to Comic Sans.

A do-it-yourself wedding invitation kit costs $45, while professional wedding invitations are hundreds or thousands of dollars. With WeddingType, the service will guide the user through a constrained flow of inputs which will populate a set of pre-designed templates with professional typography that they can print out and get hitched. The completely automated service will charge $25 and send the user a PDF by email.

My goal is to get this out really fast and start making revenue from the start, then see how big we can grow it. From here, there are multiple ways of increasing value and revenue — licensing to wedding invitation template manufacturers, selling custom design solutions, offering templates through the site, etc. Large scale, could sell templates through the site, printing and mailing like Moo.com.

I freelanced and worked at a startup for five years as the primary designer/jack-of-all-trades for everything relating to their web properties, including analytics, usability, design, HTML/CSS, and multivariate/AB testing. I need a technical partner who is enthusiastic about the business and a web programming whiz. Preferably in the Bay Area, and if everything goes right, we’ll apply to Y Combinator for the next Winter session.

Intrigued? I’d love to meet you, perhaps work on a small project together.

This is not a perfect pitch, by my or VentureHacks’ standards — in fact, I am not fully convinced by it after the first paragraph. However, I think the title and first line are good, and they are what drew me in.

Speaking from recent experience of getting married (in 2005) and having a baby (last year), I can say with absolute certainty that these are both huge markets where there’s an opportunity to be smart and offer products that will serve people well, save them money, and be profitable.  In this pitch, it was the problem/opportunity statement (“The wedding industry is huge, overpriced, and with insane profit margins”) that got me.  I certainly agree with that part.  Wedding invitations are one piece, and there are many others.  My wife has a million ideas for businesses in this space.  If I were an investor in XX Combinator, I’d definitely start here.

3 comments on “Elevator pitches, weddings and babies”

My wife made our wedding invitations by hand – while we did save some money, they were not ugly. So I guess the third option is craft them by hand. (She spent weeks after work making the darn things – crazy brides.)

Just saw this now, and thanks for your comments! I agree with you on your analysis on my pitch, and I’m glad that despite the problems, you still consider it a worthy idea.

I’ve found a cofounder and we’re hopefully launching in a couple weeks — crossing my fingers that everything goes well.

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