Marketplace: Zola Wedding Registry Passes $120m GMV Run Rate

Shan-Lyn Ma

In Episode #839, Nathan interviews Shan-Lyn Ma. She’s the CEO and co-founder of Zola. Launched in October 2013, Zola is an online wedding registry for millennials. In just three years, it has become the fastest growing wedding registry in the country, seeing 10x revenue growth year-over-year and 3x growth in 2017. Over seven million guests have attended a Zola wedding and 350 million in gifts have been added by Zola couples.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – How to Create Products Customers Love
  • What CEO do you follow? – Sheryl Sandberg
  • Favorite online tool? — Headspace
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?— 8
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “That stressing out about things do not make them better”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:47 – Nathan introduces Shan-Lyn to the show
  • 02:32 – In Q4 of 2016, Zola reached $120M in GMV runway
    • 03:30 – GMV is reflective of the number of wedding gifts that are given to couples when using Zola as a wedding registry
  • 03:56 – Zola is an ecommerce business, it’s a typical retailer
  • 04:40 – Most of the items offered in Zola are what the couples want as wedding gifts
    • 04:50 – Zola has added Airbnb as this was requested by couples
    • 05:20 – Zola takes a percentage from an Airbnb gift card purchased on Zola
  • 06:14 – Zola goes after the brands that are usually requested by couples and some brands have reached out to Zola for their products to be on Zola’s website
  • 06:54 – Since 2013, 300K couples have registered with Zola
  • 07:25 – The number of new couples signed-up in 2016
  • 08:10 – Over time, more and more couples are using Zola as their ONLY wedding registry
  • 09:40 – More guests will buy from Zola if the couples are using Zola exclusively as their wedding registry
  • 10:02 – Zola incentivizes couples by adding the gifts that they want
    • 10:24 – There’s an additional feature where couples can bring any product to Zola
  • 11:12 – First year revenue
  • 11:38 – Zola had a seed round of funding of $500K in a convertible note
  • 12:17 – Zola has raised additional capital with a total of $40M in VC funding
  • 12:36 – Zola has passed through the typical startup life-cycle
  • 14:14 – Paid ads spend is more than $100K
  • 14:41 – The hot KPI that investors are looking for is the LTV:CAC ratio
  • 15:51 – CAC depends on the channel and historical data of the channel’s performance
  • 17:42 – “We are not trying to create more lifetime value”
  • 18:30 – The challenge for Zola is getting newly engaged couples to find out about their services and sign-up for them
  • 19:49 – Zola currently has over 50K products
  • 20:22 – Zola just launched their new product, Zola Weddings, a free website for couples to manage their whole wedding
  • 23:25 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Listen to your customers’ desires and needs and respond accordingly.
  2. LTV:CAC ratio is what investors are usually looking for in a company.
  3. Create more products that could be an extension of your existing products—this will encourage your clients to use your products more.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Simplero – The easiest way to launch your own membership course like the big influencers do but at 1/10th the cost.
  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • GetLatka – Database of all B2B SaaS companies who have been on my show including their revenue, CAC, churn, ARPU and more
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Hotjar – Nathan uses Hotjar to track what you’re doing on this site. He gets a video of each user visit like where they clicked and scrolled to make the site a better experience
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives