What do you get the couple that has everything?
The honeymoon of their dreams.
Or at least a contribution to making that part of their wedding dreams come true.
Sara Margulis, cofounder and CEO of Honeyfund, explained that more couples are sharing honeymoon registries with their guests, instead of china patterns and lists of snazzy household gadgets, as a way to really get what they want.
Margulis should know. Like many couples, back in 2005, when Margulis and Honeyfund Cofounder Josh Margulis decided to get married, they had been sharing a home together for a few years. That meant that they had accumulated most of the fancy pots and pans, blenders, slow cookers and 750-count sheets that they needed. What they really wanted was the honeymoon of their dreams — something that they’d remember long after the Krispy Kreme donut maker has stopped making the donuts.
So, they created a simple list on their wedding website with all the things they wanted to do in Fiji. And the money started pouring in. Not only were their wedding guests generous in their giving, but Margulis noted that they were also enthusiastic and excited about the idea of helping to support an experience that would deliver a lifetime of memories for she and Josh.
Five-thousand dollars later, their trip to Fiji was a reality, and the idea for Honeyfund, an online crowdfunding platform specifically for honeymoon registries, was born.
Ten years later, Honeyfund has helped more than half-a-million couples raise more than $417 million to fund their dream honeymoons and more.
“Honeyfund creates something tangible that the giver can fund or put their money toward,” Margulis explained.
But where’s there’s money, there’s complexity. Margulis said it didn’t take long for the payments-related challenges to surface.
“The money part has absolutely been one of the most fascinating aspects of creating Honeyfund in all ways — from the feelings and etiquette surrounding giving money as a wedding gift, all the way to the nickels and dimes on the transactions and payment processors that we use,” she said.
The Wedding Gift Evolution
The Honeyfund business model enables the money a wedding guest gifts to go directly to the couple so that they can use the funds to purchase the experiences they want or meet another savings goals, like a home down payment.
Margulis said that the goal has always been for it to be free for people to send and receive gifts on Honeyfund — whether that means bringing a check to the wedding or sending the money digitally.
But she pointed out that people also wanted the convenience of online payments — indeed, 65 percent of Honeyfund gifts were happening online. Over the years, Honeyfund has evolved from linking gift givers’ PayPal accounts to the happy couple’s Honeyfund account to an online solution that makes it easier for payments to be integrated directly to the Honeyfund account.
For that, Honeyfund integrated with payments provider WePay to help address some of its pain points with onboarding customers and payment checkout. WePay also takes on the risk associated with fraud and chargebacks — a scenario that Margulis says is quite rare.
“It’s taken off the burden of risk and fraud — and also just the nuts and bolts of the distribution of payments — and leaves us to the business of making people’s dreams come true,” Margulis said. “And our online payment rate has grown significantly.”
Entering The Shark Tank
As a leader in crowdfunding before “crowdfunding” was a word, Honeyfund has more than 50 percent of the market share in its industry and continues to drive new user acquisition through recommendations from current users.
Earlier this year, the company expanded its reach even further with an appearance on the hit show “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs from around the country pitch their ideas and startups to the “Sharks” — a group of successful and tough self-made multimillionaire and billionaire industry leaders.
“Probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done was to walk into the Shark Tank with Josh and pitch our business on camera to five very intimidating characters,” Margulis said.
She noted that Honeyfund’s partnership with Kevin O’Leary has been helpful in terms of growing her and her husband as entrepreneurs, opening doors for the company and providing additional exposure.
Since the appearance, Honeyfund and its sister site, Plumfund — which offers crowdfunding services for other life events — have both seen a significant spike in traffic.
Just last month, Margulis said, Honeyfund experienced its biggest wedding month ever, with the most weddings and couples having success with Honeyfund, as well as the site seeing 92 percent of all gifts going through WePay or PayPal.
Honeyfund has traditionally offered a freemium model that allows customers to sign up for a free option or upgrade for a one-time fee of $39.99 to get a customizable Honeyfund page.
Recently, the company also expanded its partnerships with travel providers and other wedding-related providers, as well as retail stores who offer wedding registries, to help couples give their guests a one-stop solution for wedding gifting.
“We work hard with our partners to come up with exclusive offers and bring real value to our customers,” Margulis said. “We’re really trying to reverse the business model — instead of couples having to pay us, we want to ultimately pay them to have a great experience with us.”