Simplifying Wedding Plans through technology – WTS Talks to Shadiyana

The grandeur of weddings is one thing that brings all cultures and races together. Everywhere in the world, people dream of a perfect wedding and spend their entire life savings on it. The obsession with Shaadis is truly on another level when it comes to us desis. We have a million pre and post-wedding functions that have now become a necessity. A Shaadi without a qawwali night, haw haye!

With the rise of social media, all your functions must be Instagram perfect. Your makeup needs to be perfect, your attire must be jaw-dropping, a grand venue is a must and to capture it all, you need the best photographer in town. To get all your favourites for your wedding, you must start planning 6 months beforehand if not more. 

Amidst all these fragmented wedding facility providers, comes a startup bringing all Shaadi essentials to one platform. Shadiyana, a wedding aggregator and soon to be wedding marketplace offering all wedding services in a one-stop-shop.

Neelam Shoaib, the co-founder and COO of Shadiyana, recently sat down with We Talk Startups and talked about the idea behind her startup, its origin, how it came to be, and where they want to take it further?

She told us that the idea of Shadiyana stems from her personal troubled experience while planning siblings’ weddings. She said that most of the issues they faced were because of the unavailability of information regarding these vendors. Contacting them, going to their offices, bargaining and closing a deal was time-consuming and hectic for them. She stated that on average it takes 3 months to plan a wedding and Shadiyana works on these pain points to reduce that time to 3 minutes. 

What is Shadiyana? 

Shadiyana is a business-to-business-to-customer (B2B2C) platform that currently offers makeup artists, wedding venues and photographers. The website lists a great number of the best wedding facility providers holding all their information, the charges, pictures and videos of their setups or signature looks, and most importantly reviews from past customers. You can book these vendors within minutes through the website. The startup offers exclusive discounts for the listed vendors when booked through their platform. 

Shadiyana lists more than 500 registered wedding vendors on its website. The company currently has a traction of 1300 users per day from all around the globe. The session time of 3 minutes on the website validates the customer’s interest in the platform. Since its launch, the startup has hosted around 60,000 users. 

Shadiyana has seen a significant audience from Pakistani communities based abroad. The startup presents a great opportunity for overseas Pakistanis to plan their weddings in Pakistan without actually being in Pakistan. 

Why is Shadiyana needed in the current wedding ecosystem? 

When asked what is the market gap Shadiyana aims to exploit, Neelam mentioned the following features that make Shadiyana just what the wedding ecosystem lacks. 

1. Reliable Reviews

Whenever we book an expensive wedding service, we go about asking all distant acquaintances who’ve had an experience with the vendor. In today’s age, one of the most common ways to get reviews is online through social media. However, it is hard to find someone who has an experience with the required vendor and even harder to get a timely response on social media. 

Shadiyana adds genuine reviews from customers to their page, so you can get an idea of what they provide, and is in line with your interests and requirements without actually having to interact with anyone. The startup plans on adding a unique review system that would increase the credibility of the reviews.

2. Feasible Timing and Instant accessibility 

Unlike a few years back when parents did all the wedding planning for you, now people tend to be actively involved in their own wedding preparations. However, it is hard to find a time to visit vendors and call them up with the hectic work schedules. Most keep all these chores for the weekends but that’s not always feasible either. 

With Shadiyana, you can get all the information about a vendor and book them at any time of the night whenever you get free from work. This eliminates the hassle of finding the right time to call or visit. Most vendors are booked for weeks, so reserving a meeting with them takes ages. However, you can instantly do that through Shadiyana.

What is the revenue model of Shadiyana?

Weddings are already quite expensive, a wedding marketplace would further increase your expenses. However, Shadiyana for now doesn’t charge the customers a penny. Neelam told WTS that they use a subscription-based revenue model for the vendor’s side only. The platform charges a listing fee for all the vendors that wish to be listed on the website. It offers 2 subscription models available for them – basic and premium – which both have their own unique features. 

FeaturesBasic
50% off on signup today
Standard
Coming soon
Premium
Coming soon
Customised profileYesYesYes
Boost profileNoYes, limited reachYes, extended reach
Customer service response timeWithin 2 business daysWithin 1 business dayInstantly
Automated bookingNoYesYes
Make your own limited dealsNoYes, up to 5 per monthYes, up to 10 per month
Details of Shadiyana subscription models as per the official website

Similar businesses locally or internationally

When asked if there are similar business models offering the same features and facilities as Shadiyana operating in Pakistan or abroad, Neelam clarified that the reason they chose to work on an idea like Shadiyana is that no such service was being provided in Pakistan. Though companies like The Knot and WedMeGood were successfully operating in the US and India, the wedding ecosystem in Pakistan remained fragmented. 

NIC and Shadiyana – only an office space?

Shadiyana is a NIC-backed startup. The startup was a part of NIC’s cohort 11 in December of 2021. Neelam told WTS, that it was the good work environment they saw in NIC that made them choose NIC among many great incubators and co-working spaces available. The startup didn’t want to spend on physical space at an early stage thus NIC was a great option for them.

She further added that NIC did not only provide them with space but great mentorship. They were offered instant help with HR and marketing whenever needed. According to her, being based in a renowned place like NIC ensures the legitimacy of the brand in the market. 

The founders of Shadiyana 

Shadiyana is a product of two young entrepreneurs who left their high paying corporate careers to start something of their own. When asked the reason to launch a startup, which is an unstable way of income initially, at such a young age, Neelam shared that the corporate culture didn’t excite any of them. They wanted to experience new things, have authority over the company’s decisions and be their own bosses. 

Izzah Zaman – Co-founder & CEO at Shadiyana

Izzah Zaman is a software engineer from SEECS, NUST. She worked at Teradata as a Professional Services Consultant for over a year and later went on to join Jazz as a Systems Engineer. In 2019, she started her master’s in Public Policy and Management Concentration Data Analytics from Carnegie Mellon University, USA. It was during her second year of master’s that they came up with the idea of Shadiyana which she launched upon her return to Pakistan in early October 2021. 

Neelam Shoaib – Co-founder & COO at Shadiyana

Neelam Shoaib, also a software Engineer from SEECS, NUST, joined Zong as Senior Officer, Product Development right after her bachelor’s. After working 2 years with Zong, she went on to do her Masters’s in Systems Engineering from NUST. During her master’s, the team had already started working on Shadiyana which was launched soon after her graduation. 

The team behind Shadiyana

Shadiyana has an interesting team, with a few full-time sales members. The team majorly consists of student interns. Neelam told WTS that they have a wonderful experience with students since they bring fresh ideas and new perspectives every day. It brings innovation to the product and makes it relatable for all generations. 

What are the expansion plans of Shadiyana in the future?

The startup, currently offering services in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, would soon be expanding to Lahore and Karachi after solving certain logistics and technical issues it faces now.

Apart from geographical expansion, the company would also be diversifying its services in the near future. Shadiyana within a span of a few months would start offering Catering, decor and mehndi artists to further escalate their portfolio. 

How does Shadiyana add value to the wedding ecosystem? 

The company plays its part to address the taboos and problematic rituals when it comes to weddings. Shadiyana runs a blog on the website to educate their clients about issues like colourism, dowry, rights of women in marriage and also encourages budget-friendly weddings.

Along with tackling serious issues, the blog features articles like questions to be asked before the wedding and many other fun reads. The Instagram page Shadiyana also features posts educating the clients about their rights in marriage along with addressing social issues in a step to break the stereotypes around weddings. 

Is Shadiyana planning to raise funding? 

Shadiyana has been bootstrapped by the founding team along with their friends and family until now. However, after 6 months of successful operations and stable revenue generation, the team is looking for investors. Neelam told WTS that they wish to onboard such an investor that could offer them business insights and mentorship along with the capital. The team is very certain in their choice of investor and would be taking their time to land an investment from a VC in line with their vision. 

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