PhotoApp by WedPics

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If brides love WedPics, will they still love it after the wedding day?

That's the next big question—and challenge—for the Raleigh startup known around the globe for its crowdsourced wedding photo app, its popular Facebook page for brides planning weddings and its famously tattooed and unwed CEO.

WedPics CEO and co-founder Justin Miller talked publicly for the first time at last night's Verge NC pitch night about the stealthy development of a new photo app, set to launch in September. In a "fireside" chat with host Will Hardison, Miller said:

"With the new app, what we ultimately want to do is continue the relationship with brides and move through the next big life experiences with them. (...) Where we continue to target that bride who maybe now is a new mom, new wife, etc."

In an email follow up, Miller shared with me the link PhotoApp.com (great url huh?). If you enter your email address to get more information on Photo, you'll get a prompt to answer a survey about ways you might use a more general app that lets you aggregate and share photos with friends and family related to events like baby showers, bat or bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, fundraisers, concerts and more.

Here's how Miller explained it at Verge: "We're honing in on what are considered life's most valuable events—the highest value photos, not a pic of somebody's lunch—no offense Stealz (which pitched earlier in the night)."

He believes that broad reach is "what takes our company opportunity from big to huge."

Miller closed a major round of funding late last year with well-known Silicon Valley investors and its first AngelList funds-raise, bringing its total venture capital past $7 million. Its two growth dilemmas since that time have been whether to scale WedPics through user acquisition or to begin to monetize the app. Miller's team decided to do both.

He shared a bit about this during a Founders Series interview we did last year:
Credit: Ryan Timms

Monetization isn't entirely new for WedPics. Last year, the company experimented with two channels—printed photos that couples and wedding guests can order and "business cards for weddings" or small cards that couples give to guests to prompt them to use WedPics. In 2014, those efforts brought in $350,000. Miller told the crowd last night that $50,000 is now coming in each month—including six figures each year just for the cards.

Miller didn't share the future revenue opportunities, but said some pilots would begin before the end of the third quarter. The goal would be to finetune a model that could be rolled out on Photo too (assuming it takes off like WedPics did).

On the user acquisition side, the key realization over the last three years is that the wedding industry is indeed lucrative, but time with each couple is so limited. And most successful companies are building products that consumers can continue to use throughout their lives. There's still plenty of opportunity to add more couples—WedPics collects photos from at least 10,000 weddings every weekend to date but there are many more happening around the globe. But Photo is aimed to keep the brides engaged with the company in new ways after their big day.

That demographic target is what makes WedPics unique from Facebook's shared photo album feature or other aggregation apps like Shoto, Cluster or ChurchSnaps, aimed at religious communities.

Here's how Miller differentiates: "Plenty of folks (both big and small) are going after the event space. Our angle differs in that we're primarily targeting the bride and our relationship with her post wedding, using WedPics as the initial acquisition funnel."

Testing and learning is core to the company, so Miller tells me that will be the strategy in both determining monetization and developing a content marketing plan for the new app. 

Miller admits his company is at another crossroads, similar to the very early days when his team was working out of his basement on a photo app for concert-goers called dejami. 

"We've had amazing numbers and grown as a company but we're almost back to square one again," he told the Verge crowd. "We have a brand new app and no idea what it's going to do."

*VergeNC will release a video of the event in coming days. We'll post it here when that happens.