Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Alumni Startup Wedding Party: Coming to a Wedding Near You
Wedding Party, a mobile app available on iOS and Android devices, creates an engaging experience for wedding guests by creating a forum for them to capture and share candid photos before and during the event. The startup, co-founded by Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley (CMU-SV) Software Engineering alumni (2009), Gordon McCreight, received $1 million in seed funding earlier this year and is poised to make a big splash this summer wedding season.
Wedding Party focuses primarily on a rich experience for the guest, differentiating it from the plethora of apps that simply gather photos or cater to the bride’s experience. Photos taken by guests are posted to a digital shared album, which can later be posted to the couple’s Facebook timeline. Guests, even those who could not attend the wedding, can comment and like photos, similar to how they would on Facebook. Beyond the wedding day, Wedding Party can be used to capture photos during the couple’s engagement, keep guests updated on wedding planning and share honeymoon photos with friends and family.
The concept has been mobile from the get-go. With a seemingly endless number of mobile apps for just about everything from hailing cabs to ordering food ahead of time, the same should be true for the wedding space. Yet after attending wedding after wedding themselves, McCreight and his co-founders, Himani Amoli, Ajay Kamat and Dan Perez, realized there was an opportunity to innovate in a space that did not feature much innovative technology.
“When it comes to weddings, we asked ourselves, how can technology help make the experience better? There wasn’t something available that answered that question for us,” explains McCreight.
The app is noted for its gorgeous design and snappy user interface, priorities for the team from the beginning. “We wanted to push out the best-looking and fastest version of a mobile app,” says co-founder Himani Amoli, who did much of the design work early on. “Not only should the app be easy and convenient to use but we also wanted to make it fun for people to use as well.”
Wedding Party’s traffic comes primarily from wedding blogs and word-of-mouth after successful initial implementations at a string of weddings last summer. With glowing feedback from users, some going so far as to say that the app was their “favorite thing about the wedding,” and “this app made my wedding,” the team hopes to significantly expand their visibility in the 2013 wedding season.
“It should be a big summer for us. We’re working a few weddings every weekend and hope that people will get to know who we are,” says McCreight.
Three of the founders – McCreight, Kamat and Amoli – worked together on another startup, MicroMobs, prior to starting Wedding Party. Having navigated the challenges of building software at MicroMobs, another groups-focused app, they were much better prepared to launch Wedding Party. “Obviously we learned a lot on the technical side of things but we also realized that with MicroMobs, we didn’t have a particular niche. We tried to be everything for everybody and that was a hard problem to solve,” acknowledges McCreight. “So with Wedding Party, we’ve built an app for a very specific use case. We have a clear understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
McCreight also attributes classes such as “Requirements Engineering,” “Human Computer Interaction,” and the practicum, a hands-on capstone project for a real-world client, during his time at CMU-SV as especially instrumental to his growth as an entrepreneur. “My understanding of how to develop products, work effectively in a team and be self-directing really crystallized in those classes,” states McCreight. “But honestly, across the board, what I learned at CMU-SV was helpful to me both at MicroMobs and now at Wedding Party.”
The Wedding Party team recently hired a number of engineers to create and implement new features as well as beef up the application. Updates on the app go hand-in-hand with mobile phone updates, as improved picture quality on iOS and Android devices only means an even better interactive experience for Wedding Party users.
“From our perspective, Wedding Party is a no-brainer as photo quality keeps increasing over time,” asserts McCreight. “We feel lucky to be building products in a market where we can help so many people. Hearing from happy brides, grooms and guests really makes the challenges of a startup worth all of the effort.”