Startups are doing new things all the time, but sometimes they're taking the best parts of tradition and putting a modern spin on it. This is the case for Interactive Invitations, a business updating the traditional wedding invitation through creating interactive versions. The bride and groom-to-be can share everything from photos, videos and even playlists featuring songs special to them. We caught up with founder Mark-Anthony Jones over a cuppa.
1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less.
We are a new startup that will be providing an innovative service and products to the wedding industry. Our initial launch will be creating beautiful interactive wedding invitations that also include augmented reality (AR) to enhance the static design. This means that with a smartphone or tablet device and three simple steps to scan the invite their guests will enjoy a new visual and engaging experience, which may consist of watching a short invitation video, viewing a photo gallery, or even sharing their favourite song or playlist to listen to - plus more. It allows the couple to create a memorable first impression and a custom personal touch that helps sets the tone, feel and excitement to their big day, as well quick access to the relevant information for them to attend and to RSVP.
The strategy and motivation behind our business idea is “Keeping the old, and in with the new”. Why? Because in our life today mobile devices are becoming a functional part of our social and working lives, also increasingly used within the wedding planning industry and the event itself. However, invitations are very traditional and there's still a great demand for them. So we are maintaining that 500+ year tradition and making it relevant to today’s digital age with cutting-edge mobile technology.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
I am based in Walsall, where my business is currently based. It’s ideal for me right now as I don’t have to travel that much, and I can balance it with working from home too.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
The idea came about when I was designing an invitation for a client at the same time I was experimenting with the augmented reality concept and it’s potential.
4. What’s the business model?
Our business model is firstly to make an impact, and set a new trend in the wedding industry. Meanwhile we are aiming to diversify into other events for businesses, retail, brands, artists etc. We'll then be seeking and creating healthy partnerships here in the UK, and internationally.
5. Who are your competitors?
Currently there is not a direct competitor to us in the UK, and just one other international company. Then there is the obvious competition with email invitations and some wedding apps that are currently out there.
6. What’s unique about your business?
Combining augmented reality with static wedding invitation designs to give the guests a new visual experience, plus all the details accessible at their fingertips with their mobile device. It only takes three simple steps to activate and it can actually help to get those RSVP confirmations through more quickly and enjoyably.
Imagine now the engaged couple can add music, playlists, videos and more. This concept also given allows us to work with those who are designing their own invitations, or we can do this for them too. The potential is exciting! So exciting that this idea can be utilised and grow into other commercial and entertainment markets.
7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
Early startup stage, building up for our hard launch, which is very soon now!
8. How have you used it to grow your business?
Definitely. It is helping us in our marketing and development of new product ideas, building up to start making a return on that investment.
9. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?
Tremendously! I have been blessed with a really good and down-to-earth mentor, Nic Sproul - he has priceless experience and knowledge which he has shared with us.
10. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
University of Wolverhampton Enterprise is our local regional partner, and one of their advisors, Clive Booth, again was a great help to successfully see us receive a loan.
11. Biggest achievement so far?
Successfully reaching the finals of a PitchFest competition in West Midlands, which will be a great platform to pitch our business idea to investors and also increase our exposure.
12. What’s next for your business?
Our hard launch, and hopefully an investor to help us make our ideas a reality.