From service to platform: Nearlyweds! opens up to help indie wedding designers sell online

Last September we announced our investment in Nearlyweds!, a two-year-old provider of beautifully-designed wedding websites. At the time, we hinted that they were working on some “secret sauce” that would bring some exciting new ideas to the wedding services ecosystem (a $71 billion marketplace, per this snazzy infographic from BridePop).

The Nearlyweds team still has some excellent tricks still up their sleeve for later this year, but they just released some changes that will give you a sense for where they’re headed. As CEO John Scrofano describes on his blog, this week’s release transforms the company from a service provider (allowing brides to choose among a carefully curated set of designs to publish a custom ‘wed-site’) into a platform (empowering *any* graphic designer *anywhere* to upload their invitation designs and offer matching wedding websites to their customers). As John writes:

“Stationery designers all over the country (or world) can now reach customers earlier in the planning process than they would have access to otherwise (because brides buy wedding websites early on, whereas stationery is later in the planning process).  They can also provide existing customers with a matching wedding website.  Plus designers receive commissions on each one of their sites in use by a paying customer.

“Wed-site Customers will have access to an incredible selection of design – everything from modern, to traditional, to sub-cultures like steampunk, geek, goth, and rockabilly.”

When we made the investment, we referred to this planned change as the ‘Etsy Model’, out of admiration for the wildly successful and much-loved handcrafted goods site Like Etsy, Nearlyweds! now hosts an online marketplace that celebrates and enables passionate craftspeople to showcase – and earn a living from – their creative expression. Brides can now collaborate with any designer they choose (and there are thousands of independent wedding invitation designers around the country) to create invitations that represent their unique vision for their wedding day, and then marry (sorry, couldn’t help myself) that design with the best that modern social software has to offer.

I’m incredibly excited about this change, not just because it gives Nearlyweds a huge lead on any other social software player in the wedding industry, but also because it reflects a philosophy of success that applies to nearly all of our investments at Founder’s Co-op: once you’ve built a software platform that creates value for you, find a way to share that value with other businesses in your ecosystem. And if you’re making money from that platform (and you should be), make sure your partners are getting a piece of that economic value as well.

So thank you, Etsy, for the inspiring example, and congratulations Nearlyweds on making the switch from provider to platform. And stay tuned! There’s more goodness on the way from these guys…