Bethesda Magazine gives inside look at Catalyst-backed WeddingWire
How CEO Tim Chi helped create a Chevy Chase tech company couples can’t seem to live without
By Steve Goldstein
Car culture is emblematic of life in California, and the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe” vibe resonated in the sunny and affluent Newport Beach neighborhood of Corona del Mar, where Tim Chi grew up. The 16-year-old Chi believed all those cars would require regular washings. So he and a high school buddy pooled their allowances and borrowed money from their families in order to purchase equipment and supplies for a car wash business. They designed a logo, printed business cards, canvassed the city and waited for customers to roll in. And waited. Until the boys’ parents couldn’t stand it anymore and told them they could work off their debts by washing their cars—say, several hundred times.
What Chi recalls, however, was his fervor for the idea, how cool it was to have a logo, and how it might have worked if they’d had a marketing plan. “What I remember is that it was a passion project, there was something fun about it,” Chi says. That enthusiasm, the sense of business bravado, was rekindled as an undergraduate at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, when he helped found course management software provider CourseInfo, and again with its more evolved national successor, the D.C.-based Blackboard.