Washington Business Journal: The key to WeddingWire’s continued growth? World domination

By Andy Medici, Staff Reporter

WASHINGTON — The anxiety, stress and overall emotional roller coaster of planning for and paying for a wedding is a worldwide phenomenon — and that is good news for WeddingWire Inc.

The Chevy Chase-based wedding marketplace is already operating in about 14 countries, thanks largely to its 2015 acquisition of Wedding Planner S.L., and covers a population that holds 4 million weddings a year.

But CEO and founder Timothy Chi told me that WeddingWire could eventually cover a population that holds about 25 million of the 40 million weddings that happen across the world each year. Translation: There is still plenty of room to grow.

“It really comes down to how skillfully we execute on our playbook,” Chi said. “We feel like we are kind of just getting started.”

And its next stop is India. With more than 1.2 billion people currently living there, it’s the second-most populous country after China, which makes it a huge market for the company.

WeddingWire already has a website up for its India services and is currently hiring staff, learning the marketplace and preparing for a large international launch. Chi did not identify a specific time frame but said it would take some time to put all the pieces together, including translations of content, images for the site and understanding what its potential users would want.

“You do have to think about the cultural dynamics in each country,” Chi said. “But there are the same pain points: It’s an emotional purchase, and there are a lot of moving parts.”

Chi declined to say how much the rollout in India will cost the company and how many people it plans to hire for the new endeavor.

The focus on expansion has boosted WeddingWire’s bottom line, too. The company has grown from $19.6 million in annual revenue in 2012 to nearly $73 million in 2015. And Chi said the company is on track to break $100 million in revenue over the next couple of years.

Founded in 2006, WeddingWire has grown to more than 800 employees and raised more than $31 million in venture capital. However, the company has not raised any money since 2012, and Chi said WeddingWire is not currently on the hunt for anymore.

And what about an IPO? Chi said he is focused on growing the business and an IPO would be a way to raise money for some capital-intensive purpose, but WeddingWire has been cash-flow positive since late 2011, he added.

His investors are also quite patient, which means there is no pressure for a liquidity event to pay them off, he said.

“We’ve obviously run the company with the idea that we are here to build a company that is built to last,” Chi said. “We are here to stay, is the bottom line.”

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