Indonesian wedding services marketplace Bridestory made headlines when it was acquired by the country’s largest e-commerce platform Tokopedia in June 2019.
This acquisition began with a discussion on the potential for collaboration between Bridestory’s co-founder and CEO Kevin Mintaraga and Tokopedia co-founder and CEO William Tanuwijaya in late 2018. As both companies share similar values, passion, and mission, talks of partnership eventually led to the Tokopedia’s “proposal” to Bridestory.
On its tenth anniversary, Tokopedia said that the company is evolving beyond e-commerce to become a “super ecosystem.” That means Tokopedia wants to build a complete infrastructure to support and collaborate with all manner of users, merchants, and partners, growing and driving change in the Indonesian digital economy together.
With that said, Bridestory’s acquisition was an important milestone for Tokopedia in achieving its mission. It was the first full acquisition made by the unicorn, at least from what’s publicly known.
“The acquisition gives great opportunity to broaden our service scopes and we’ll be able to accelerate the business much faster,” said Doni Hanafi, co-founder and COO of Bridestory, to KrASIA in a recent interview.
Addressing high market demand
Indonesia’s wedding industry holds much promise as there are at least two million couples planning their big day every year, Hanafi said.
According to research firm Splendid Insight, weddings in Indonesia are worth USD 7 billion in consumer spending, signifying massive opportunities for industry players.
Bridestory was founded in 2014 by Kevin Mintaraga and Doni Hanafi. The idea came from Mintaraga after he went through the hassle of planning his own wedding.
Imagining the big day was easy. There are plenty of pictures on social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. However, the challenge was to find the right vendors that could make those dreams come true, said Hanafi.
“There’s a shifting trend when it comes to wedding planning in Indonesia. Years ago, parents tended to dominate the entire wedding preparation. But today, the couples-to-be want to be directly involved in handling every little detail of their wedding so they become quite selective in choosing vendors. Therefore, references and reviews about vendors are important to help them make informed decisions,” he said.
Through its web portal and mobile application, Bridestory links up couples with wedding organizers, venues, caterers, and all the other service providers that might take part as they tie the knot. It also has a wedding consultation service called Hilda, which blends feedback from a team of real-world wedding consultants with artificial intelligence to advise couples about anything from creating their wedding ceremony’s concept to choosing the suitable vendors.
“A wedding is a happy moment, so we want to give the couples a stress-free wedding planning experience with our one-stop solution,” Hanafi said. Bridestory not only provides convenient services for the couples, but also helps service providers develop their businesses. “Many of our vendors are small enterprises or freelancers who do not have a formal business entity, so it was not easy for them to market their services or products. By joining our platform, they have easier access to customers.”
In 2018, the startup launched BridestoryPay, which allows users to settle their invoices via multiple financial instruments, including credit cards and interest-free installments at more than 15 banks in Indonesia, giving vendors the chance to tap into a bigger market.
Hanafi said that the platform has listings of more than 30,000 vendors and serves around 500,000 couples every month.
Bridestory has branched out to cover life after the wedding as well. As their business started to take off, Mintaraga and Hanafi decided to tap into a new market—young parents. Last year, they launched an online marketplace for kids’ activities called Parentstory.
Parentstory is designed to help parents access a variety of activities for their children, allowing them to book and pay for the plans on a single platform. Using a subscription system, Parentstory now has hundreds of service providers or partners and more than 30,000 subscribers.
Life after acquisition
The acquisition by Tokopedia transferred all of Bridestory and Parentstory’s assets to the e-commerce unicorn. That includes intellectual property and human resources too. However, Hanafi said that Bridestory remains an independent subsidiary.
Three months into the acquisition, we can see how the two companies’ operations mesh together. For example, Bridestory has leveraged Tokopedia’s payment infrastructure, giving vendors and users access to more than 30 payment channels in Tokopedia, including its e-wallet partner Ovo. “Our vendors now can tap into Tokopedia’s already huge market, while Tokopedia’s merchants that have products related to wedding business can also reach to our customers base,” Hanafi said.
The two entities’ integration will be carried out in all aspects, including technology, logistics, and other fields. Bridestory’s team members will also relocate from the startup’s old office into Tokopedia’s tower for better coordination, he said. Bridestory currently has a presence in Singapore and the Philippines, but with this merger, the startup will focus more on its home market.
“From the beginning, we designed Bridestory as a global platform. We have vendors from 60 countries to answer the ‘destination wedding’ trend. It is common to see Indonesian couples get married in Japan or foreign couples have nuptials in Bali nowadays. However, we’ll align our overseas operations, because our focus now is to expand our services into all cities in Indonesia, following the footsteps of Tokopedia,” Hanafi explained.
Bridestory was already profitable before the merger. Now, Hanafi is excited to see even more business acceleration through new integrations. He believes the company can offer more value to customers while staying true to Bridestory’s mission to celebrate the couple’s big moment by making their dream wedding come true.
“To me, the most important thing as an entrepreneur is to continue creating value for customers. And as we have joined forces with one of the biggest tech companies in the country, I believe that we’ll able to do so more quickly,” he said.