Features | 3 min read | by Mana Mehta

From College Graduate to Major Influencer: 4 Years to Penetrate a 40 Billion Dollar Industry

Sanna Vohra is the founder and CEO of the The Wedding Brigade, a online Indian wedding platform that has all-inclusive services and products for an amazing Indian wedding. We interviewed Sanna to understand what it takes to go from being a college graduate to successful entrepreneur – is it every millennial’s fantasy or a viable reality? She shared the key steps with us, to build a build a scalable and relevant business. The Wedding Brigade is constantly looking to collaborate with talented content creators, fashion bloggers, photographers and other creatives. If you want to know more about collaborations or entrepreneurship, chat with Sanna on Dysco App to learn more about her work, her journey and collaborating with The Wedding Brigade. 

With over 900,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook, 27-year-old Sanna Vohra’s entrepreneurial venture, The Wedding Brigade, has become a major player in the industry since its establishment in 2014. Organising everything from decor, clothing, jewellery, and seating plans, the business has grown to house more than 40 employees in five cities, with customers in more than 25 countries. Described as a portal for Indian weddings, the purpose for such a business was to make the often complicated and elaborate process of planning a “big fat Indian wedding,” more streamlined and efficient. What we really wanted to know is how do you go from being a stellar college graduate, to actually building a thriving business enterprise – is it every millennials fantasy or a viable reality? Sanna breaks it down for us into palatable and actionable steps, that guided her professional journey. 

Practise early, practise young and practise hard.
It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t Sanna’s first entrepreneurial escapade. Going back to her days as a Brown student, Sanna tells us that she had already “started a small business with some friends.” Largely successful amongst fellow Brown students “it was in the restaurant discounting space,” mentions Sanna. “I had a little bit of experience, but obviously on a much smaller scale of starting a business, putting together a plan, figuring out how things would work.” The difference is drastic when comparing the scale and social outreach of her former venture to her current establishment. “I knew that I really liked the feeling of starting something new and so I thought this would be something that is exciting for me, and that I would enjoy it.”

I didn’t understand how big the gap was or how little was being done in India to fill the gap.

Really listen to those around you, to identify the gaps in people’s lives and in the market.
After graduating from Brown, Sanna nabbed a job as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in New York, coveted by most graduates from top-tier universities. Despite the enviable feather in her cap, she couldn’t rid herself of the entrepreneurial bug.  “I was in India on holiday and I was hearing about my friend’s sister’s wedding,” begins Sanna. “I was hearing about the outfits, the decor, etc. It just became very clear that the entire process of putting a wedding together in India was extremely inefficient and there wasn’t any central place to find high quality content, products, and services.” Feeling that there was a need for a new type of ‘all-inclusive’ service, Sanna initiated some research as to whether there was a genuine need to fill this gap. “I didn’t understand how big the gap was or how little was being done in India to fill the gap,” adds Sanna, prompting her to establish The Wedding Brigade, unparalleled in quality and scope at the time.

Accept that there will be challenges, and focus on finding solutions.
With the establishment of her business, Sanna faced multiple challenges in switching from being an investment banker, to an entrepreneur once again. The challenges were not only professional, but psychological too, as it was challenging to adjust to the different mindsets in India. “Number one would be coming from a banking and foreign work culture to a work culture in India, its very different,” she says. It was also challenging to get people and brands to acknowledge the business, as she adds “working with a lot of fashion designers and jewellery designers and decorators, their schedules don’t tend to be very traditional or 9 to 5. Just finding time to talk to people, getting people to follow up and stick to deadlines was a huge challenge, and we’ve gotten better at it because now we’re a little bit of a bigger platform and people want to work with us and are incentivised to be on time.”

Understand your audience, and craft your content to deliver value to them.
It is difficult to ignore the massive social media following they have attracted through their perfectly curated Instagram and Facebook feeds. “Social media is super important. On both Instagram and Facebook, the goal is to put out interesting posts that capture our wedding content, to show people how they can use our services.” Most would assume that much of their blog content would be about typical questions like “which lehengas you should buy for your sisters wedding or how to match your jewellery to your blouse neckline,” but Sanna assures that this is not the case. “We also do articles on types of contraceptives you should know about before you get married or talking to a gynaecologist, things that are genuinely important content for people that are getting married.”

Invest in the right team, and they will help cater to your unique marketing strategies.
The wedding planning industry is arguably the most female-centric industry in the world, and The Wedding Brigade is no exception. “90% of our users are female, which is probably one of the highest percentages in the industry, but it makes sense, as women are the driving force behind the wedding industry in India.” This is not to say that men are not involved in planning a wedding, but the fact remains that women are typically more involved in the decision-making and planning of a wedding. “Even if you are on the groom’s side it is typically the mother that is making the decisions, and family members are still extremely involved in the planning process,” Sanna adds.

“90% of our users are female, which is probably one of the highest percentages in the industry, but it makes sense, as women are the driving force behind the wedding industry in India.”

Even in The Wedding Brigades’ own team, Sanna mentions how about two-thirds of the team consists of women. “Because it is such a female-centric industry a lot of our team is female. That’s partly because they are the ones that end up having subject matter expertise in terms of clothing, in terms of marketing, and in terms of what would appeal to our target audience.” She emphasises the demographic of her audience by giving an anecdote of her own business packaging scheme. “One example is our packaging. It’s bright pink. That’s very uncommon for an e-commerce company because it is not a typically gender-neutral colour, but it’s perfect for us because we know who our audience is.”

When asked about being one of a few female CEOs in the rapidly growing 40 billion dollar industry, Sanna was quick to say that this was not just an accomplishment, but a harsh reality. “What’s surprising is that even in a female-oriented industry, there are very few women leading organisations within it. Broadly, in India there are only approximately 14% of companies headed by women. On top of that, in India only 2% of funding went towards women’s companies. It is uplifting that we are part of that 2%, but it is also scary because I would expect the number of companies founded by women and the amount of funding going to women-lead companies to be a lot higher.  I want to do my part to ensure this changes.”

Chat with Sanna on Dysco App to learn more about her work, her journey and collaborating with The Wedding Brigade. The featured image is taken by Shades Photography and the image in the body of the feature is by Wedding Nama, both of whom are listed on The Wedding Brigade website.