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Japan’s AET Fund, Blume lead follow-on round in The Wedding Brigade
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Mumbai-based Sitara Digital Ventures, which runs marriage ceremony solutions portal The Wedding Brigade (TWB), has raised an additional $1 million (Rs 6.9 crore at current exchange rates) in a pre-Series A funding round led by Japan-based Akatsuki Entertainment Technology Fund (AET Fund) and early-stage investment firm Blume Ventures.

Processed foods and agri commodities exporter Allana Group and a bunch of angel investors too participated in this round, a company statement said.

The company will use the fresh capital primarily to scale its new initiative of creating and operating wedding banquet spaces and to strengthen its existing content and e-commerce businesses, the statement added.

“By managing the actual wedding ceremony, we will finally be able to offer an end-to-end stress-free solution for couples planning their wedding, from finding ideas on our blog, to shopping for clothing and jewelry on our e-commerce platform, to booking vendors through our concierge service, to finally hosting and executing the actual wedding in one of our banquets,” Sanna Vohra, founder and chief executive of the venture, said.

The Wedding Brigade, which was earlier known as Indear, allows users to discover, plan and shop for Indian weddings. Founded in 2014, the platform later introduced a marketplace where users can buy wedding-related products like clothing, costume jewelry and accessories, and book related services such as venues, photographers, and make-up artists online or through the help of their concierge service. It also offers free online wedding planning tools and it recently expanded its venue business by creating and operating wedding banquets.

In early 2018, the company had raised $1 million in the first tranche of its pre-Series A round led by Blume Ventures. Czar Capital, Mountain Pine Capital, LetsVenture and Keiretsu Forum also put in money.

In 2016, The Wedding Brigade raised Rs 4 crore in a pre-Series A round again led by Blume.

“The wedding industry in India is extremely dynamic and fragmented, and we believe it has immense potential,” said Yuki Kawamura, principal, head of India investments, AET Funds.

Investors

The AET Fund is a $50-million investment vehicle launched in 2017 by Los Angeles and Tokyo-based entertainment company Akatsuki Inc. Co-living space provider StayAbode, gaming startup Mech Mocha e-commerce platform ShopKirana are some of its portfolio companies in India.

Blume Ventures is an active early-stage venture capital firm in India co-founded by Karthik Reddy and Sanjay Nath in 2010. In October 2018, it marked the first close of its third fund at $40 million. It is also in the process of setting up an office and team in Bengaluru.

Deals in the space

A number of players have mushroomed in the wedding planning space over the past few years but the most recent high-profile entry into the segment has been budget hospitality chain OYO.  

In August 2018, it bought Weddingz.in, an online marketplace for wedding venues and vendors.

Weddingz is a technology platform that allowed users to find and book wedding planning services at the best prices. It provided wedding venue recommendations and also connected users with wedding service providers such as photographers, makeup and mehendi artists and planners.

Another venture in the sector is Hyderabad-based women-focussed content startup Incnut, which also operates a wedding platform called The Bridal Box. Tokyo-headquartered consumer internet company istyle Inc had picked up an undisclosed minority stake in the startup.

The Bridal Box provides content on photography, venues, decorations, bridal and groom fashion and make-up styles.

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