When Swathi Bavanaka and B Anjaneyulu Reddy decided to get married back in December 2012, they had to plan their wedding in Hyderabad while being based in Bengaluru. To understand the wedding market and the costs, they began looking for online platforms but found no convenient platform that could help them with all the information they needed.
There was JustDial with phone numbers but that was about it.
“We wanted to know the complete details for each service, pricing and latest trends but nothing of that sort was available. That’s when we got the idea of solving this problem using technology. We wanted to build something like Zomato for weddings. But this is the 2015 Zomato I’m talking about, which at that point only had end-to-end information about a restaurant from prices, menus, offers to location, ratings and reviews,” Anjaneyulu says.
With their wedding around the corner, the couple quit their jobs and started working on the idea. They began speaking to all kinds of service providers involved in weddings such as hotels, venues, photographers, caterers, decorators and others.
An important insight they gleaned was that service providers interested in advertising on such platforms or paying for listings were willing to come on board – if the platform ensured business for them. That’s when they decided to build a transactional platform where users could log in and plan their entire wedding and book all the services they needed on a single platform.
With everything in place, they soft-launched in 2014 at Startup Saturday in Bengaluru. However, showcasing at Startup Saturday made them realise that there wasn’t enough demand for wedding services online yet. Several people approached them asking for help in organising birthday parties for their children instead.
“When we pitched to people at Startup Saturday, we were very surprised on getting queries from parents wanting help in organising birthday parties for their kids, given their busy schedules. We even generated many leads on the spot. That’s when we decided to launch our platform making kid parties as our niche where customers can organise and book everything they needed for a birthday party,” Anjaneyulu recollects.
The couple then launched Evibe, an end-to-end party-planning platform for a range of events such as weddings, surprises, housewarmings, corporate events and youth parties. But their specialty was birthday parties, especially for kids.
How does it work?
Evibe has tied up with service providers such as decorators, artists, entertainers, home bakers, caterers, off beat venues like farm houses, villas and other such event service providers. Unlike other marketplaces, it lists their services on the platform.
For customers, it is a one-stop shop to book end-to-end event services with standardised pricing, transparent service information, real customer reviews and, most importantly, real photos of events conducted.
Say you are a user looking to organise a birthday party. Just click on the birthday categories and you will see options such as birthday party collections, popular venue deals, popular birthday party decorations and more. In fact, the platform also has packages that include decorations, activities, artists in the pricing. It also lists the type of parties or activities trending in the city, so users can opt for the latest rage.
Users also have the option of putting in their own budget and requirements to customise the kind of party they want to organise.
Operational in Bengaluru and Hyderabad with five occasions on offer, Evibe has over 750 service providers on its platform with over 5,500 options to pick from. The startup claims that over 6,500 parties have been organised through this platform.
Revenue is generated through a commission model where Evibe charges 10-15% on each transaction that takes place on the platform.
Evibe also recently started developing a B2B model where it will work with corporates such as Amazon, Wipro, Tally and others. “We plan to launch a full-fledged product for corporates to help organise celebrations such as anniversaries, employee birthdays, festivals, product launches and so on,” Anjaneyulu says.
While the market was much smaller when Evibe launched in 2014, the current market for event planning has expanded multi-fold, especially for weddings. However, when it comes to party planning across different types of events, most platforms have JustDial-type of listings or cater to only one type of service.
“Unlike our competition, we are able to maintain positive unit economics at the operational level as all our operations are completely powered by technology through mobile apps for our partners. We have introduced process such as selfie-checkin that enable us to have complete control over the party without being physically present at the venue,” Anjaneyulu explains.
The founders say the next step forward for Evibe is to grow 5X in GMV in FY19 and expand its presence to five cities in total. They also plan on expanding to tier 2 cities eventually.
With an expansion plan in place, Evibe, which is currently part of Hyderabad-based startup incubator T-Hub, is also making huge changes to its product to improve customer engagement.
“We are looking at how can we not only engage our customers but also their guests. We are looking at thank-you notes, e-invites and similar ideas, so that we keep guests at the events engaged as well. We are also looking to leverage the data we generate through customer preferences in looking at gifting. This data can be used by guests to help decide what to gift the hosts,” Anjaneyulu says.
Evibe is also developing an algorithm that will help understand the various preferences of guests and accordingly take decisions and throw up the right options based on their preferences and budget.
Another big opportunity Evibe sees going forward is in the personal parties space. It has been seeing an exponential growth here thanks to rising disposable incomes.
“Our vision is to enable millions of memories. People want to celebrate their most special moments. We want to make it easy and effortless for them and be part of their celebrations,” Anjaneyulu says.