Weddingful: What Startup Founders Can Learn from the Assembly Line
Jun 5, 2012
Angel Pui grew up “running around” and sometimes working on her family’s factories. She comes from a line of entrepreneurs: her grandfathers worked with toys and electronics, and her father ran factories. And while the assembly line may seem like the antithesis of innovation, Pui has learned a great deal from it.
As the founder of the Vancouver-based, venture-funded Weddingful, Pui keeps her startup “lean” the same way her father runs a factory. In a factory, she explains to me, you initially test the assembly-line process on one item. You have to figure out which steps to complete first and make sure they don’t interfere with each other. Factories are run with a focus on efficiency – and not adding unnecessary features.
In the same way, Weddingful invested the time to build a backend data system to avoid making blind decisions. As brides-to-be shop for and book a full suite of wedding services, Weddingful aggregates data on their location, which ad campaign they came from, how many days/messages/pageviews it took to make a first purchase, and how much value they add to the company. It’s similar to the way her father measured cost per factory worker and cost per item.
“The only way to be able to keep being lean is to really understand your customer,” Pui says. “It’s always nice to know where you’re going. Otherwise your assumption could be completely wrong.”
Spurred by this data, Weddingful is adding a calendar for wedding vendors to display their availability. Pui also knows which cities to market in and which services are most popular each month, like photography or tuxedo rental.
Another lesson Pui learned from her father, when he lost millions overnight as the bubble collapsed, was how to deal with hardship.
“I was trained to think, ‘Okay, that is the situation, and what is the best we can do now? And how do we make something out of nothing?” she says. “It’s humbled me. Once you’ve gone through years of nothing … things don’t faze you as much.”