Indian brides are increasingly taking control of their wedding planning as opposed to the tradition of parents being in-charge. Kanika Mehta, an entrepreneur and alum of Oxford University, Said Business School is looking to disrupt the Indian wedding sector and use technology to empower brides to be for the most special day of their lives.
Most of the world is in awe of the grandeur associated with Indian weddings (even if an Indian wedding is naturally synonymous with the ‘Monsoon wedding’ movie to the uninitiated ). To be fair, the movie does a good job of giving a sneak peak into Indian weddings. But in reality, its hard to comprehend the myriad types of customs, costumes, classes and cash that constitute the big fat Indian wedding.
Of all its splendour, Delhi weddings are the Kohinoor in the crown boasting of the most extravagant lavish week-long or sometimes fortnight-long affairs. Being a proud Delhihite who had grown up on these 10-day weddings where families spend more than their bank allows (and hence we are a credit culture much like the Americans ), I had always wanted to do something around weddings. My heritage of coming from a family of small businesses and my natural resolve to follow in my dad’s footsteps in “starting-up” a business had me convinced to quit my job, apply to a full-time MBA program to gain the necessary skills and networks and achieve my life dream.
And hence was born the idea of ‘Doli Diaries’. A Doli is a traditional palanquin (much like a Cinderella’s pumpkin ride) in which a bride used to be transported from her father’s home to her new husband’s home after the wedding. Doli Diaries met all the above criteria I wanted fulfilled as part of my life ambition – father’s footsteps, entrepreneurship, weddings and finally, the wierd feeling you get when u know u are creating something.
Doli Diaries is a mobile-first app to help brides-to-be organise themselves and log their thoughts in a personal delicious way.
There are essentially two levels of Indian wedding planning. The first level is where the parents and the relatives and the in-laws help out. This will be your wedding venue scouting, tent bookings, caterer hunting and heavy spends like jewellery and big gifting. The second level of planning is the very personal planning a bride-to-be worries about – her trousseau, fitness levels, wellness, honeymoon plans, lingerie, bachelorette and fashion ideas – the list goes on and on. It is this second level where Doli Diaries is building products with a singular central focal point – the bride-to-be. Not the couple, or the wedding day or the parents who help. Simply the bride.
Indian weddings behaving globally?
As we try to carve a space for ourselves in this nascent under-served target market of the working tech-savvy urban Indian woman, the gap between the two levels of planning discussed above is narrowing, and narrowing fast.
Traditionally, parents were the big decision makers in a wedding with the bride not having much say. Now, a shift of influence seems to be emerging where the power is moving from the parents to the bride.
A simple phenomena explains this – in urban India, it was common for women to marry in their teens or sometimes upto the age of 21 right out of college. With more education and better job prospects, women are marrying later and later in towns and cities.
And with a job and financial independence comes the ability to make decisions for themselves. Parents also increasingly respect their daughters and are comfortable with them calling the shots. It is this change of control that we are hoping will help us “ride the tide” and position us for the next wave of industry creation and consolidation in the Indian wedding space. It is in this way that Indian weddings are behaving like weddings in other countries and cultures where the bride is the epicenter and key decision-maker in weddings.
MBA steps in to help
While the idea had germinated in my mind almost 6 months before the MBA began, I used my MBA to polish it, to gain feedback from dozens and dozens of sources that only a world-class MBA can provide, to provide team members and finally, to build a business plan. My classmates were the most precious takeaway from the MBA for me and my start-up. The countless hours of advise and help I got from unselfish classmates juggling a crazy year with the demands of us crazy entrepreneurs is commendable!
After a year’s hard work of finding co-founders, recruiting core team members, hiring and firing and hiring again, building and rebuilding pitch decks in an infinite loop, getting advice and ideas in 1-on-1′s, logo designing, brand proliferating,, we have finally launched the first version of the app. The iPhone app can be download here and the android app will be launched soon.
The purpose of the apps is to gain quick customer feedback both from analytics and interviews and pivot as fast as possible in the next release, whether the pivots be in design, features or the whole product. The iPhone app is FREE and launched worldwide, so please try it and share sentiments with us at [email protected] or tweet @DoliDiaries
Contributing blogger Kanika Thapar is a tech entrepreneur working on her start-up Doli Diaries in the online wedding space. She finished her MBA from Oxford in September 2013 where she was Co-Chairing the Entrepreneurship Oxford Business Network at her school. Besides entrepreneurship and weddings, she is passionate about travel and fiction with Harry Potter topping her favorites. When she is not nose deep in a Harry Potter book she can be reached at [email protected]