She’s not your typical bridezilla. But this entrepreneur wants to take on the $50 billion wedding industry—no holds barred.
“We have one mission and it’s total wedding world domination,” Kellee Khalil, founder and CEO of Loverly, tells CNBC.
Khalil says she’s built the world’s first wedding search engine, tying the knot between brides, grooms and technology. Her objective: Bring together the best ideas, the best products, and the best vendors in one place—from save-the-date stationery ideas to jaw-dropping five-tier wedding cakes, and even necklaces to match those seafoam green bridesmaids’ dresses.
CNBC gave Khalil just 60 seconds to walk her idea down the Power Pitch aisle to a panel with celebrity wedding planner Colin Cowie, and Sonja Perkins, managing director of Menlo Ventures. Will it be love at first pitch? Watch now and see if she can persuade YOU and the panelists to say YES.
Bridesmaid turned CEO
Khalil has been saying “I do” to weddings ever since she started working with her sister Leila Lewis, who founded a boutique wedding PR firm. Her sister then asked Khalil to be maid of honor in her wedding.
As a bridesmaid, Khalil tells CNBC, she would be 30 Google searches deep with 15 brand sites open—completely lost researching for her sister’s wedding. Amazed at how difficult it was to find vendors, share ideas and make purchases, Khalil formed Loverly, what she calls a one-stop shop for wedding planning.
What’s to love?
Loverly is a Pinterest of sorts for all things wedding related. Users can filter through generic categories like “glitter,” or zero in on a search as specific as a strapless knee-length bridesmaids dress.
Brides save their findings in folders, or "bundles,” which they can share with family, friends and even vendors. Users can make purchases and hire vendors through the site, or click to learn more.
“Instead of a big wedding binder, it's all on the cloud and in the palm of your hand via your iPhone app,” Khalil says.
The other woman: Loverly competition
During the Power Pitch, celebrity wedding planner Colin Cowie asked how Khalil planned to keep brides surfing Loverly and away from other sites.
“We actually want to drive traffic off site because that shows they had a successful visit. … We actually monetize when we take them off site,” Khalil responded.
According to Khalil, returning users view the site for about 14 minutes per visit, and 5 percent of users return three to six times a day.
“We may have actually created a little bit more of bridezilla,” Khalil jokes.
The start-up still faces stiff competition from The Knot, a leading resource in the wedding industry since 1996. The Knot boasts 2.1 million unique visitors a month and is owned by publicly held XO Group(XOXO).
Loverly would not disclose how many visitors it has a month. Instead, the founder tells CNBC it reaches 6 million users across social, mobile, on site and through their blogger networks. According to Khalil, her start-up is already generating revenue.
She says Loverly represents 40 of the largest wedding bloggers, managing their advertising and display inventory. The site also has partnerships with more than 100 companies, selling upwards of 2,500 brands with over 250,000 products on site. Vendors include Macy's (M), Donna Morgan and Nordstrom (JWN).
“As we actually drive traffic to the site and connect brides with the brands and products they want to purchase, the retailers will then pay us cost per click,” she says.
Founded in 2012, the company has raised $2 million in total funding. Investors include Joanne Wilson and Jordan Levy.
See Kellee Khalil make her Power Pitch to panelists celebrity wedding planner Colin Cowie, Sonja Perkins, managing director of Menlo Ventures, and CNBC host Mandy Drury.
--Addtional Reporting by Erin Barry and Kelly Lin
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