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Chris Cardell

Interview with Theodore Batzakas (wedjinni)

wedjinni is a wedding planning application to help with wedding related tasks.

I interviewed Theodore Batzakas, wedjinni founder to find out more. This is the two hundred and eighth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Theodore!

How would you describe wedjinni in under 50 words?

The most complete wedding management application ever built. Our focus, from the beginning of development was to make one tool that would make everyone’s life easier when planning a wedding. Wedding-related businesses included.

What made you decide to start working on wedjinni?

After getting married, I realized first-hand how difficult it is to plan a wedding. Inspiration and ideas are not that hard to find with all the information now on the Internet, but, pure, raw management of all the tasks involved with a wedding, is really hard without a good app. So I gathered up my team and brainstormed for it.

Planning a wedding is a very personal experience, do you feel you can make the experience personal via wedjinni?

Everything in wedjinni is personal! Every account is for two users, so we make the bride and groom work on their wedding together. Guests can be invited by connecting on Facebook or by transferring contacts from a mobile phone and the users can rsvp them by mail and get comments back in the app too. Gift registry can connect to other online services and import gifts in real time on the users’ account. Reception tables are easy to manage without stereotypes about table sizes and arrangements, so you can plan a beach party or a great venue reception with the same tool.

JinniQuest, the platform that helps couples and vendors connect, is as personal as it can get. Couples set a budget and deadline for a task, and vendors come with specialized proposals designed for the requiesting couple. Topping that with an 11-language support, wedjinni speaks in the users minds :)

What was technically the most challenging part of developing wedjinni?

We wanted to build a strong engine, with many features and great scalability, but we also wanted to keep the ui clean, the application simple and fun to use and uncover the great features of wedjinni only when needed to minimize the clutter. We think we succeeded on that.

Do younger couples tend to be your main target market?

Sure. Young couples are our main target, since they are more comfortable in using technology for something that was quite traditional until now. Today, everyone has access to the Internet and most people know how to operate a smartphone or a tablet, so they can put it in good use while planning their wedding.

It is important though, to state that wedjinni is not only being offered to younger couples.

What technologies have you used to build wedjinni?

Wedjinni is based on PHP and MySQL technologies. We used the CodeIgniter framework for our backend and we utilized extensively the beauty of JavaScript, jQuery and recently Backbone.js to make things faster.

Do you have any features in the pipeline to develop wedjinni?

Wedjinni is built to grow. After the initial release of web and mobile apps, we are going to integrate a social plugin in wedjinni which will allow couples to exchange ideas right from within wedjinni. Also, we plan on having special events from selected vendors, proposing new ideas to couples and answering questions to help them make the best choices for their wedding. With these services, we think wedjinni will be truly the most complete application for wedding planning ever built.

What do you wish you’d have known 5 years ago that you know now? Where do you see wedjinni in 5 years time?

Never give up on projects that come from a great idea. The idea is yours, and only you can make it work as it should. Wedjinni is our little kid. We like to see it succeeding and standing out from the crowd. We believe in its potential, we know it’s good so we are in a good path.

I see that you’re soon introducing an app available on Apple and Google play what inspired you to do this?

The world is moving, so should our app. Nowadays, when you close your laptop and get out, you stay connected and need to check email, update appointments etc.

When you plan a wedding, lots of events happen while you are on the move. That’s why we wanted to make wedjinni stay with you all the time and help you keep everything in order.

Has wedjinni got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

Even though we haven’t marketed wedjinni extensively yet, we already have a thousand users, and a few hundred professionals registered to try jinniQuest. Our users have already managed over a million dollars worth in wedding expenses which eventually could end to jinniQuest vendors. And we are still in beta.

Who is your biggest competitor?

Competition of wedjinni is somehow difficult to detect. Not because there are not great applications out there, but because most applications excel in very specific areas. There are great apps for guest lists, great apps for budgeting, great apps for reception management but not many great apps, if any, that can do all of the above and keep the user from searching for a bunch of tools to do his job. Having said that, great competition that is hard to fight comes from big wedding related portals that have the funds and marketing strength to appear more to potential users.

The fee you charge seems relatively cheap, do you manage to effectively cover costs?

We kept wedjinni’s cost to the lowest possible after a careful study of our expenses. We want users to meet wedjinni and see what it can really do. One of our big challenges will be to make wedjinni completely free in the future for the couples and only charge for the users of jinniQuest (the professionals in the wedding industry).

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Weddings in a global scale are a colorful mosaic. Every country and every area in a country, has traditions, special wedding customs and things that are de facto for the locals and hard for others to comprehend. Wedjinni has to be culture-free. It has to focus on the real management challenges that no matter where the wedding is taking place, it is there. Some countries use rsvps, some not. Some have bridal showers, some not. So, in every step of developing wedjinni, we had to keep in mind to leave tradition and cultural things out of the picture.

Being based in Bulgaria, do you experience difficulties in terms of time differences with other countries?

Sometimes we need more coffee to attend meetings, to watch statistics or to solve problems, but, coffee is nice :)

With customers needing to provide a fair amount of personal information, do you experience any difficulties with the data protection act?

We have taken the privacy of our users very seriously. Our attorneys has conducted a full privacy policy letter from scratch so we are in perfect conformance of national and international law regarding online privacy. We respect our users and we have taken all steps to also protect their data with encryption and other security technologies.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

We are close to release v.1 This is really an exciting milestone. We can’t wait to see how people are going to use wedjinni and we feel very happy to see them use wedjinni’s features to plan their special day. This makes us feel full of excitement.

Can you convince the reader to start using wedjinni in under 50 words?

If you are planning a wedding, managing everything will soon become a nightmare. Don’t let managing difficulties ruin your special day. Rub the lamp, and call for our jinni.

Finished reading? Check out wedjinni!

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2013 at 6:05 am GMT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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