The Web has revolutionized the wedding industry, allowing couples to create their dream weddings online. From choosing a wedding gown to selecting a photographer to deciding a wedding registry, brides can plan their weddings right from their own computers.
Jenny Lefcourt is one of the first visionaries who saw the potential of the Web for the wedding business. As a young graduate student at Stanford University in the late 1990s, Jenny started the first, online aggregated wedding registry site Della & James (now called WeddingChannel.com). WeddingChannel.com has succeeded in radically simplifying the wedding planning process as it brings together the registries of the best retailers—Williams-Sonoma, Crate&Barrel, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, etc. Jenny’s vision for the WeddingChannel.com has allowed it to become one of the most successful companies on the Web today.
Now at 36, Jenny co-founded another venture that focuses on another aspect of the $139.7 billion U.S. wedding market – wedding photography. Her new company, Bella Pictures http://www.bellapictures.com , is poised to change the way wedding photography is done with unique offerings that set them apart from their competitors.
The Road to E-Business
Jenny has the right mix of creativity and business acumen that has served her well in her career. She has a solid business background, graduating magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in business from the Wharton School in 1991. She attended Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in 1997. It was at Stanford when Jenny got the idea for what would become the biggest success story in the online wedding market –WeddingChannel.com
WeddingChannel.com was born out of a business plan competition at Stanford University. Jenny, with her classmate Jessica Herrin, began working on a business plan for a school wide competition. Lucky for them, an associate at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers heard their presentation. While they continued to work on the plan while at school, they got funding from Kleiner Perkins for the business in May 1998. Seeing her chance to pursue her artistic passion with her business expertise, Jenny left business school to focus full-time on the startup WeddingChannel.com.
Her decision to leave business school paid off. WeddingChannel.com became one of the most successful e-businesses; even after many of its startup contemporaries have bit the dust in the late 90s. WeddingChannel.com became the #1 online wedding registry and wedding website that is frequented by almost every online bride. More registry wedding gifts are purchased via WeddingChannel.com than any other site
Changing the Face of Wedding Photography
Family and marriage changed the course of Jenny’s career. Four years ago, she gave birth to her baby and decided to slow down her career. She left WeddingChannel.com and made motherhood her main priority. As Jenny said, she “was ready to focus on him and not work for a while.”
But not for long. Jenny couldn’t resist the entrepreneurial call when she realized another opportunity in the lucrative online wedding market – this time turning her sights on the wedding photography business.
She knew from her WeddingChannel.com days that brides often did not have great choices when it came to wedding photography. Finding a photographer that could document weddings with a fresh, creative and insightful eye ensuring beautiful and personal photographs at an affordable price who was available and trust-worthy was not an easy feat. Add to that all the nightmare stories that exist about the photographer not showing up or not delivering the negatives or album after the wedding. The idea of creating a company that could deliver beautiful and personal pictures for couples with almost any budget was too compelling for her to pass up. She found herself jumping in as an entrepreneur again and once again, in the wedding space!
According to Jenny, she “enjoys being a part of the biggest day of so many people’s lives” and that her customers are so happy and appreciative. On the business side, Jenny likes the size of the wedding market and how ripe it has been for opportunities because it has been underserved for many years. The biggest reason the sector translates to the web is because of the age group of people getting married. The average bride is 28 and has grown up on the web, using it to do her research and transactions. For both of Jenny’s wedding businesses, it does not require a change of behavior but simply enhances the customer experience.
Jenny teamed up with Bob Davis, a very well known celebrity photojournalist, Tom Kramer and George White, a successful businessman and photojournalist to create Bella Pictures.