How MarryMe plans to revolutionise the wedding industry

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Everyone loves weddings, but planning it? No one does, as it is considered one of the worst nightmares. Have people tried different initiatives to make things better? Yes. But has anyone developed any software tool to further enhance wedding planning and all other related services in Sri Lanka? No, not until three specific entrepreneurs, who took a unique initiative to establish the MarryMe platform to resolve all challenges hindering a beautiful marriage. 

This week, Develop It Yourself (DIY) took the initiative to understand the new concept of “mobile marketplace for the wedding industry”, launched by three entrepreneurs: Lahiru Udith Jayasinghe, Gayanath Damith Amarasinghe, and Binara Amodha Wijesekara.  

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MarryMe was formed in May 2020, and since then, with planning, designing, and developing the solution, the company has commenced receiving and validating vendor applications with potential vendors whilst also continuously aiming to start the same with consumer applications in the near future. 

When inquired regarding what inspired him to launch MarryMe despite the existing challenges due to the global pandemic, Jayasinghe stated that the “dream” he had since childhood of doing something of his own was the key motivation to proceed with the MarryMe initiative. Later, explaining how the initiative surfaced into existence, he said that he first realised the lack of technology adaptation in the wedding planning industry while he was preparing to tie the knot. 

“I always wanted to build up to something of my own. Tried several things, started several ventures, but failed. Time flew by, and when I started planning my wedding, something became very apparent. I just wished there was an easier way to plan a wedding. There’s something for almost all the other industries, but to plan a wedding, or even for wedding vendors, there are no digital solutions to make respective lives easier or productive. Right away I pitched the idea to two of my colleagues and MarryMe was born,” he said.

Further, reflecting upon how his entrepreneurial journey has been in Sri Lanka, he mentioned that it has been a rollercoaster ride with positive experiences such as doing what he loves and what he always wanted to do, whilst also experiencing negative emotions when things don’t work out as expected, thereby turning it into a total nightmare.

Nevertheless, pointing out an important factor, he stated that the talent he had around him when he was leaving the university was extraordinary: “I’m talking about my colleagues. The things we could have done if the proper recognition was there for the people with a proper entrepreneurial mindset are beyond imagination. But we did not give up. Believe it or not, we are still bootstrapping; it’s really hard but not impossible, hence why we are still strongly holding on to our vision.”

Deep dive into the services offered 

Unlike the stories heard, there is no necessity of having a very large capital prior to launching a new idea into the market. Therefore, what’s special about MarryMe is that it was initially funded by utilising personal funds of about Rs. 500,000 and then began to progress with the flow to accomplish the set targets of the company. 

Are you wondering what exactly makes MarryMe special? It is the first time that the wedding industry has collaborated with technologically advanced tools rather than just following the traditional manner that has existed for decades. 

To explain in a nutshell, MarryMe has two vital components in its mobile applications. The first is for wedding vendors, which allows vendors to collaborate with MarryMe and display and promote their respective products or services on the MarryMe platform. Whereas, the second is for the general consumers, where they could purchase the said products or services.

Commenting with regards to this, Jayasinghe stated that these two applications go far beyond the information above. According to him, customer application lets customers see vendor availability, pictures, videos, prices, book vendors, buy products, track the progress in their wedding plan, and many more features, whereas vendor application can also be utilised as a tool to manage their business operation. 

“It is unique, and we offer features that no other competitors offer, we offer features that bring value to vendors, that solve a real problem for customers. That is where the value of MarryMe lies and why there’s a value in the market for MarryMe. There are competitor products but what they lack is a market value, since they do not offer features or services that are expandable. We believe that is our biggest advantage,” he mentioned. 

Further, elaborating more on what makes MarryMe so unique from existing competitors, Jayasinghe said that it has to do with features that never existed before. For example, MarryMe has a feature called Book ‘N Agent, where it allows the vendor to reach customers rather than the customer having to always wait for the vendor to approach. 

Developing this example, he said that a wedding directory is cool, helpful, but a hard sell when it doesn’t solve 99% of the rest of the wedding planning stages: “MarryMe has a financial value, unlike the competition, thanks to how the business is formed and due to the services we offer. There’s something for everyone, vendors, consumers, and investors.”

Switching the topic focus, when inquired as to the traction so far given that it was implemented amidst the pandemic, Jayasinghe stated that even though it was a rough start, they could turn it to their advantage, as wedding vendors had comparatively more free time than normal, which allowed MarryMe to showcase and explain the uniqueness their products.

Additionally, giving an assertive statement, Jayasinghe highlighted that: “If you are to dive deep and see what we offer, you will see the areas that MarryMe could be expanded to, and it does not have to be limited to the wedding industry. The vendors we will be having could serve many more industries and the features we offer could be expanded globally. We could easily open up Sri Lanka as a global wedding destination. Big expectations, I know. But like I said before, hard but not impossible.”

Deeper dive into the company operations 

Since its inception, the three-member management team has now grown to a nine-member team, which according to him is exactly what’s needed by the company. Therefore, as a privately owned company, the employees are driven mainly by the MarryMe vision and follow the same goal as one of the most creative and unique products.

Likewise, within this short period, MarryMe already operates with 28 different vendor categories, which mostly have nothing to do with each other, and further expects to launch the MarryMe customer application to the public by raising investments to boost the growth. 

Reflecting upon the journey ahead, Jayasinghe stated that there is never a better time for a product like MarryMe to operate rather than the present, given the existing benefits as mentioned above. Therefore, he noted that if MarryMe could find the funding that they are looking for at the moment, that investment would not go to waste, but would rather have a positive impact. 

“Now that we are already collecting vendors and planning on going out to the public, the biggest challenge is funding. Launching a new and never tried product is never easy. We do need an investor, but finding the right one is equally important to us, and we are still waiting for the right person to see the true potential of the product and what we have planned for it, as not a lot of people see it. The plan is, well, it is to keep looking for that person,” he emphasised. 

Further, when asked about the company goals, Jayasinghe said that the key short-term goal of MarryMe is to meet the initially planned vendor acquisition numbers so that the consumer platform can be released to the public without any hindrances. 

Whereas, the five-year goal would be to “Become a Unicorn”, which would be achieved with the scheduled plan of tapping into other international markets by then as a Sri Lankan brand, since the global wedding industry itself is a $ 50 billion-plus industry which is underutilised by tech products. 

“The things we have planned for MarryMe as a company are even more interesting than our current implementation. Plus, If we could mark Sri Lanka as a premier wedding destination, and make it one of Sri Lanka’s highest income sources, that would be our highest satisfaction,” Jayasinghe indicated. 

He further added that due to the current pandemic situation, it is predicted to have a sudden growth by 2023, which has not yet been properly utilised by the IT industry. Explaining, he noted that there is a big gap in the market for a software product even on the local market, let alone on a global scale. He believes MarryMe is more than capable of gaining the advantage of capturing said market. 

Nevertheless, giving the concluding remark, he encouraged new entrepreneurs to never give up upon any circumstances faced in their journey. 

“Being an entrepreneur is the hardest job in the world, but the most satisfying when you see results,” Jayasinghe concluded. 

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