Washington Post: At WeddingWire, a deeper marriage with merchants

The Download: At WeddingWire, a deeper marriage with merchants
By Steven Overly

WeddingWire operates at the intersection of brides who dream up the details of their special day and the vendors that provide the food, music, photography and other services that make them a reality.

Chief executive Timothy Chi said the company has put a concerted focus on the latter half of that relationship in recent months, expanding the digital marketing software and business services that it provides to vendors.

“We’ve been focused on helping these local merchants grow their business from a pure advertising perspective,” Chi said. “There are many other marketing channels and business efficiencies that can be had by leveraging technology.”

For example, WeddingWire developed a widget vendors can embed on their Web site that automatically converts it to a mobile-friendly format when accessed from a smartphone

Other companies are also clamoring to provide business tools to local merchants. District-based LivingSocial has similar plans in the works. But that market can be difficult to serve because small businesses are so fragmented and often have unique needs.

“The goal was to leverage what skills we have internally,” Chi said. “We have always billed ourselves as a technology company and not a media company.”

WeddingWire ended last year with about $10 million in revenue, a figure Chi expects to double this year. It also counts 154 employees today, up from 100 at the end of 2011.

The firm intends to move into a larger office later this year, signing a lease for 26,180 square feet on the third floor of 2 Wisconsin Circle in Chevy Chase. That’s more than double its existing footprint.

So what’s next? A wedding isn’t life’s only memorable moment. The company debuted BabyShowerWire, MitzvahWire, BirthdayWire, PromWire and EventWire earlier this year.

Telcare funding

Bethesda-based Telcare has raised $25.5 million from investors as the company looks to increase sales of a wireless monitor that measures the glucose level in people with diabetes.

Dr. Jonathan Javitt, the firm’s chief executive, said the device collects a diabetic’s glucose level and makes the information available to his or her physician or family members via a Web site or mobile app.

The company is early in the burgeoning mobile health industry. Advocates contend that Web-enabled devices allow for constant oversight of a patient’s condition and better communication between caregivers.

But the Food and Drug Administration has questioned whether advancements in mobile technology could compromise patient safety, and as a result, has sought to establish guidelines for health-related mobile apps and devices.

Telcare has been shipping its FDA-approved glucose meters directly to diabetes patients since February, and Javitt said the company has recently inked deals to distribute them through insurance companies.

“Our mission for the next year is to prove in those markets the value of wireless connectivity in diabetes, not only for the patient outcomes and health, but [also] the providers of health care and those who have to pay for it,” he said.

Silicon Valley venture firm Sequoia Capital led the latest venture round, with additional money provided by existing investor Qualcomm. Telcare has raised approximately $30 million to date, Javitt said.

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