by Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor
Before I started working for APW, I was a recently married twenty-something straight out of college trying to figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life. During that time the APW community became my sea of surrogate big sisters and mentors, providing me with career and relationship inspiration and helping guide me through the complex formative years of my early twenties. Out of everything, the posts that made the biggest impression on me were the ones about entrepreneurship. While my mom had owned her own business when we were growing up, it had never occurred to me that a woman in her twenties could own a business, that a business could be sustained by consumers on the internet, and that a small woman-owned internet-based business (in the wedding industry of all places) could support a family. For some sponsors, APW readers make up the majority of their business for the whole year, allowing them to feed their families and do the work they love (which rocks). As these businesses grow, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that they are still predominantly run by individuals and small teams, but the truth is, most of the people behind the companies that advertise with APW are just as rad as the services they provide. So today I have the pleasure of interviewing Taryn, owner of longtime APW sponsor Glö (they make super stylish paperless invitations, wedding websites, and have the most comprehensive guest management tool this side of anywhere) about what it means to run a business, and why she does what she does. Here’s to being inspired.
Hey Maddie! I’m pretty excited to be doing a sponsored post like this. It’s not every day that I get to have a one-on-one conversation with the fabulous APW community. I just realized that it’s been almost THREE YEARS (holy crap!) since my first interview with Meg, so I’m totally going to have fun with this.
Why did you create Glö? What were you trying to solve when you started this company?
I created Glö because I had a problem that I wanted to solve for my own wedding, and also because I wanted to build a different future for myself and my family.
When we first started planning our wedding, my (now) hubby Enrico and I had very different visions. I wanted to break every tradition in the book (morning-of girls’ night followed by ALL my gals escorting me to the aisle? bring. it. on.), while he is “charmingly” traditional. However, one thing we both agreed on was that we wanted to send invites, share event and travel details, and collect RSVPs online. The idea of doing everything by hand totally did our heads in.
The problem was that we couldn’t find an off-the-shelf solution that was easy to set up and customize, while feeling sophisticated enough for such a special celebration. Since I’m the luckiest gal in the world, as a wedding gift, my web-designer brother created something bespoke for us to use (yeah, he’s kind of the best). Our guests abso-freaking-lutely loved it, and I started fielding emails from friends of friends asking whether they could use the same software for their own weddings. That’s when the wheels started turning.
While this was happening, I was feeling pretty burned out from my job. I loved what I did (customer-driven strategy consulting), but I knew the crazy hours I was working just weren’t sustainable. However, I’m a super risk-averse person, so the idea of quitting my job to start a company kind of made me hyperventilate.
It was actually Enrico who convinced me to give it a go. (Love you hun bun!) You see, we had this crazy dream of a future where we could work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, have the option to eat lunch together, and pop out to things like our future children’s Olympic medal ceremony (hubby’s dream) or Project Runway fashion show (my dream, which is totally going to happen. Make it work people!). Starting a business like Glö seemed like a possible first step, so E told me to give it some serious thought.
I took a three month unpaid sabbatical from work, using that time to test the idea with potential customers, write a business plan, and scope the initial website. When I felt like the idea had some chops, I nervously gave my resignation, lined up some part-time consulting gigs to pay the rent, scraped our savings together, and hired a development team. Glö was born, and I was off and running. Yikes!
So what exactly is it about Glö that’s different from the rest of the wedding website/paperless invitation companies out there?
Our official mantra is that Glö helps modern-minded couples streamline their wedding communications—saving time, stress and trees. But I like to think that we help couples throw kick-ass celebrations, prevent paper-cuts on everyone’s tongues, and make guests think “now THIS is a wedding I don’t want to miss.”
We’re different to other options out there because we have a fully integrated invitation + website + RSVP solution that can be tailored to pretty much any type of celebration structure and customized to reflect a couple’s unique personality. (Can I make a confession? I sometimes spend an entire night checking out different Glöbies’ vites and sites because I love seeing how different and personalized they are. Warm fuzzies.)
With Glö, you can:
- Send Glövites—beautiful email wedding invitations, save-the-dates, and even a group thank you that magically appear from an animated envelope.
- Create a Glösite—your multi-page wedding website, which you can personalize like crazy by adding photos, a countdown, fancy slideshows, videos, interactive maps, or any other widget. You can even specify which guests can view each page.
- Add unlimited events to your website (like a rehearsal dinner and reception) and select which guests are able to view each event. Your website only shows the correct events to each guest, thus preventing hurt feelings. Hooray!
- Add unlimited RSVP questions for each event. Then guests can RSVP for their entire household and +1s, preventing duplicate RSVPs or unplanned guests for you. You can also update your guests’ RSVP responses online or download them for offline viewing and sharing.
- Send messages to all or some of your guests before and after the wedding celebration, making it super easy to remind guests to RSVP, send last minute updates, or share those wedding photos when they come in.
When you’re setting up your invites and website, you can choose one of our fab preexisting designs (featuring options from APW designers!) or create your own design. There’s even a PowerPoint template for those (like me) who don’t know the first thing about design software.
Plus, all of our designs have matching paper stationery options in case you need a handful of paper invites for older relatives or you want to go online with your save the dates and then send paper invitations.
How has Glö changed and grown since you started it? What’s surprised you the most about this business?
You know, last week I was just looking back at the very first product description I wrote and thinking, whoa, we have come a looong way. That’s pretty mind-bogglingly exciting. First, we’ve implemented a ton of Glöbie-requested features that I never would have dreamed up on my own. We’ve also launched a partner designer program, which helps support independent designers (who keep ALL the proceeds from their Glö design sales!). Supporting indie designers was one of my secret dreams when I launched the site, so I’m really proud it has come to fruition. We also have an awesome partnership with APW and APW designer elves! This is one of my favorite bits since I love working with APW couples so much.
The best surprises have been the people I’ve become friends with because of this little company. Our itty-bitty team is spread out all over the world, and working from home can be pretty lonely sometimes, so it’s these connections that make Glö really fun. I hadn’t thought about the fact that I’d never get to interact with 95% of the couples who use the site, since most Glöbies only get in touch when they have questions or issues they are trying to solve. My favorite days are when I wake up to an email from a Glöbie who just wanted to say hi and tell me how much their guests loved their site, or share an idea they have for Glö, or tell me they have a business idea and ask if I’d be willing to chat about my experience getting started. When that happens, it totally makes my day! (hint, hint)
What do you like most about working with APW brides and grooms?
So Meg asked me this question two years ago, and you know what—my answer hasn’t changed one bit! So if you’ll forgive me, I’m just going to say exactly the same thing all over again…
I enjoy working with APWers because they are incredibly down-to-earth and thoughtful. (Plus they throw weddings that I would love to attend!) They view their wedding as a celebration—a unique opportunity to gather all of their favorite people in the same place at the same time (or share the joy of their elopement with everyone at the same moment in time!). They care about their guests—and want them to enjoy their celebration. And, most important, they want to throw a celebration that really reflects who they are. For me, this is truly what wedding celebrations are about.
Three years on, I still feel like APWers throw weddings that celebrate and honor their eco-system—the support and love made up by their friends and family. That’s something really inspiring for me. I’ll just say too that when I had a baby in April, most people were probably pretty shocked that the auto-reply for our help email for the next three months went something like “Yeah, I just gave birth, so I’m gonna respond as quickly as I can, but…” I had SO many amazing replies from Glöbies who told me that they’d found Glö on APW and wanted to just say congrats. Several of you even offered baby tips and words of encouragement (all eagerly accepted). For that, I want to say a big, hearty THANKS!
This community is something special, and it’s a true testament to the team that makes this wonderfulness happen each and every day. Ya’ll rock, and I’m so glad to be a part of it in some small way.
What do you want to see Glö do in the future?
Oh you ask such hard questions! Actually, like I said above, so many of our best innovations come from users, so why don’t I ask you guys. What do YOU want to see from Glö in the future?