Planning a wedding can be one of the most exciting experiences or it can be extremely stressful. Drawing inspiration from others through wedding videos has become the secret weapon to planning an amazing wedding. Love Stories TV understands this and has built a media platform around wedding videos to provide you with fresh ideas from venues to flowers and everything else you need to make your big day special. The company boasts hundreds of edited videos on its site submitted by wedding videographers and couples that its viewership just love with impressive levels of engagement. Serving as both a discovery platform as well as entertainment destination, Love Stories TV has taken our love of wedding videos and built a powerful brand around it.
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and founder Rachel Silver about the company, its origin, her wedding, and the company’s most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Love Stories TV raised $1.7 million in our Series Seed 2 round. Investors include Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox CEO and cofounder; Hayley Barna, Birchbox cofounder; New York Angels; Alpine Meridian Ventures; ; Andy Appelbaum of RiverPark Ventures (cofounder of Seamless and Domino Media Group);Charlie Silver, Chairman & CEO Algebraix Data Corporation & CEO Real Age (sold to Hearst Corporation); CoVenture; Jon Steinback, Director of Product Marketing for EMEA Facebook and former Foursquare SVP product experience; Launch Capital; Paul Appelbaum and Todd Arky, Seamless cofounders.
Love Stories TV is building the first and only platform for data-enriched wedding videos. Founded in 2016, the company’s mission is to provide its community with a never-ending supply of wedding related inspiration and entertainment in a fun and organized way. With its unmatched collection of wedding films, submitted by both couples and wedding filmmakers from around the world, Love Stories TV is a hub for a fast-growing and deeply engaged community of soonlyweds, newlyweds, and wedding film enthusiasts.
Both a planning tool and entertainment platform, Love Stories TV lets couples browse for inspiration, check out venues, watch vows and toasts, see the work of videographers, discover products and services and so much more. The site has clocked more than ten million minutes of watch time in less than two years (a ten times increase since the site launch). Love Stories TV also boasts the longest time on site relative to other leading wedding websites.
What inspired you to start the company?
I married my childhood sweetheart (we actually met in kindergarten!) in June 2013. While planning the wedding my mother asked me if I wanted to hire a wedding videographer. I pictured a man with a giant camera on his shoulder shining a bright light in people’s faces. I said no thank you to my mother and didn’t think about it again.
At my wedding my family and friends surprised us with the most insane dance flashmob and it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. That moment, and the rest of the wedding, were totally perfect and unforgettable.
Immediately after, I began to regret not having hired a videographer. Not only because of the flash mob, but because I couldn’t remember the speeches, or our vows, or what the officiant said, or how my husband and I looked when we walked down the aisle. Photos can’t capture these things, only video can.
At the time I was running content marketing for a beauty retailer so it was my job to create (and sometimes star in) fun, entertaining, educational videos. I started to pay more attention to wedding videos when I would see them on social media. My friends got married six weeks after we did and when I saw their wedding film something clicked between my content marketing brain and my nostalgic bride brain: this was the best content I had ever seen. Real people, real love, professional production.
I began to think: what could possibly be more fun if you were planning your wedding than to get ideas, inspiration, and find vendors by watching other people’s wedding videos? Plus, I suspected that engaged couples would want to watch these even if they weren’t wedding planning. Why watch a rom-com, when you can get inspiration from actual humans?
It’s been incredible to watch how quickly the idea of Love Stories TV got off the ground with lots of people who wanted to be a part of it: we got an MVP site up, made our first hires, talked to tons of filmmakers, raised some money, hosted the Wedding Film Awards, worked with amazing partners, hired some more people, and built a new website.
How is it different?
Because we’re a platform (not an editorial blog) we publish all of the weddings contributed, as long as it’s an edited piece of work shot by a filmmaker. Publishing every single wedding video that is submitted to our site means we have 60+ countries represented, and we have every style, religion, budget, culture, gender, shape and size imaginable. We have boho Muslim weddings, gay weddings in Italy, elopements in Norway, Indian weddings in Jamaica, beach weddings in Canada, lesbian weddings in art museums and so much more (all easily searchable!)
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are targeting both couples planning their wedding (representing a $300B global wedding market) as well as regular people who enjoy watching a good love story. Visitors watch films for ideas, planning and inspiration such as barn weddings or Indian weddings, or watch for entertainment, such as films that strike an emotional chord such as Dads Who Will Make You Cry, Best Groom Reactions, and Weddings With Pets.
We are also targeting videographers and wedding professionals, as Love Stories TV is quickly becoming a valuable marketing tool. Visitors can buy products and services highlighted in the videos. They’re like commercials for the products and services featured, but better because they’re real. This authenticity is what brands and business spend millions of dollars trying to achieve with their marketing efforts, but rarely do. Plus, everyone wins – engaged couples, wedding vendors, filmmakers, and advertisers…all benefit from the ecosystem we’ve created on the new site.
What’s your business model?
Love Stories TV connects engaged couples (and their friends and family) with the products and services they need for their wedding. We’re a powerful marketing tool for wedding filmmakers, venues, brands, and service providers to reach their desired users. Love Stories TV has partnered with brands such as David’s Bridal, Bonobos and the Jamaica Tourist Board, introducing new co-branded video experiences and e-commerce integrations that leverage this high quality and completely authentic video content. We’ve hired our first brand partnerships director and plan to do lots more of this in 2018.
How has the business changed since we last chatted in the fall of 2016?
We just re-launched the new lovestoriestv.com! The website and mobile experience upgrades, which include enhanced search and filtering, video uploading and a fully redesigned format, provide a better overall experience for visitors. The new website makes video viewing faster and easier, and it’s easier to share, watch, and search the vast video library.
We are also gearing up for the 2nd Annual Wedding Film Awards, taking place in April 2018 and honoring videographers for their best and most innovative work. This year we’re partnering with B&H Photo Video to take the awards to the next level.
What was the funding process like?
My biggest take away from the funding process is that your network is everything. In my 4+ years at Birchbox I established relationships not only with the incredible team there, many of whom who have gone on to equally impressive organizations, but also brands and leaders in the tech space. These relationships opened up doors for me in the investment community.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Communicating that we aren’t just “another wedding company” but a platform enabling commerce through content. Every industry comes with its positive and negative biases so we needed to get to the heart of our mission quickly and directly.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The idea for Love Stories TV really resonated within my circles and people were eager to get involved as investors and advisers. I think one thing in particular that led Katia and Hayley, my former employers and entrepreneurial role models of mine, to get involved is that they too recognized the opportunity to disrupt the wedding content market and create an experience for couples that is both entertaining and useful. The experience we had together of being in the trenches in the early days, and building Birchbox’s brand up to what it is today, also made possible their vote of confidence in me and this vision.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months? Our three main goals for the next six months and how we will be using the capital are to:
- Grow our video library
- Enhance our product
- Continue expanding our audience
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Use this as a forcing mechanism to figure out how you can make money. It’s cliche, but necessity is the mother of invention. Last summer, before we went out to fundraise, we secured four paid brand partnerships. This allowed us to fund our growth and gave us proof points when we went out to talk to investors.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We have exciting events and plans in the work and want to establish our brand as the place to go to watch wedding videos, whether you are planning your wedding or enjoying a good love story. We’re looking to further establish our position in the wedding video space, help define new categories and create a platform for wedding videographers to be recognized (e.g. Wedding Film Awards) or to help drive the conversation around major cultural moments (e.g. the Royal Wedding!)
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Samesa in Brooklyn