May 24, 2024

You’re the Boss Blog: Pitching a Brokerage Service for Canceled Weddings

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In my last post, I reviewed an organic cigarette company that wanted to appeal to socially conscious hipster smokers. This week, I review a pitch from a woman with an unusual take on the bridal market — a broker of canceled weddings.

You can view the original video pitch and my review of the pitch below.

Here’s the original:

And here’s my review:

First, I want to say that I am thrilled to have a pitch from a female entrepreneur. While women are starting more businesses, the majority of those businesses are small in scope and don’t rise to the level that would warrant significant investment. Women are less likely to seek financing of any sort, which means that their businesses typically end up being a fraction of the size of businesses started by men (both in revenue and profits).

In this case, Lauren Byrne gives a short and focused pitch about the money left on the table from canceled weddings and the opportunity for a brokerage firm to grab some of it. She notes some critical numbers in the pitch, including a $40 billion wedding industry with 250,000 canceled weddings every year. In these situations, the brides- and grooms-to-be lose some or all of their wedding-related deposits — even though, she argues, there are value-driven and hurried individuals who would love to buy someone else’s wedding plans at a discount.

While I give Ms. Byrne credit for addressing some of the issues upfront, I am not sure the opportunity is large enough to attract an investor. If there are 250,000 canceled weddings a year, what percentage could she realistically capture? And how much could a broker make per wedding? If you capture 2 percent of 250,000 weddings, that would be 5,000 weddings a year. Even if the broker makes $500 a wedding, on average, that’s only $2.5 million in revenue. And how do we know the supply doesn’t exceed demand?

I also have questions about scalability. There are thousands of wedding planners throughout the United States who work with brides and grooms. This opportunity might be better served through local brokers (including planners), who have relationships and local knowledge, rather than through a nationwide platform.

I also wonder how many weddings are canceled far enough in advance to find a seller (as opposed to those brides and grooms who get cold feet within a week of heading to the altar)? Plus, how much leg work would go into trying to sell weddings that wouldn’t ultimately find buyers?

And if Ms. Byrne is committed to the platform, how is she going to market it to reach the brides and grooms? That is one of several details lacking in the pitch. There is little information about the team, Ms. Byrne’s background or any connections that would make her entry and position in this market more successful.

Sometimes, when something doesn’t exist, it’s because there is no market for it (or a limited one at best). It is often a less risky proposition to tweak a business model that does exist than to try to create a new opportunity that requires spending time educating the market, which can be expensive.

I also want to call out an issue in the pitch that in my experience seems to plague women in particular — and that is the offering of a caveat. Ms. Byrne says in her pitch that the idea “may seem strange, but …” As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to sell, not to apologize. If there is an objection to overcome, rephrase it, but never call your idea strange, weird, small, uninteresting or any other negative — even if you are going to explain why that’s really not the case. When making a pitch, take a position of strength.

Ultimately, I would not take a second meeting on this concept, but I do think Ms. Byrne could bolster the pitch and remove a lot of risk by proving the concept. It shouldn’t take a lot of capital to get this going on a small scale, which would produce a track record and could change the dialogue entirely. However, I have a more important question for Ms. Byrne, which is, “Is this opportunity big enough to be worth it?”

If you are going to spend your money, time and effort on a business, does this one have enough upside? If not, you might want to cancel your attachment to this idea and find a different opportunity to marry.

What do you think?

Carol Roth is a business strategist who has helped clients raise more than $1 billion in capital. You can follow her on Twitter.

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