Q&A with Weddingbook’s Kevin Lister: What comes after fbFund?

Last week, Facebook announced the five apps that will receive a total of $250k grants from fbFund (via Accel Partners and Founders Fund).  Weddingbook, one of the apps that won, has found a clever way to help Facebook users plan their weddings.  After adding the app, users can keep in touch with their wedding party, make ongoing changes to the guest list, post engagement photos, and more.

Inside Facebook recently spoke with Kevin Lister, President of WedSnap, the company that developed Weddingbook.  Here’s what he had to say:

What problem does Weddingbook solve and how does it make use of Facebook’s extensive social graph?

Weddingbook is a quick way for couples to share wedding details with their friends and family. Normally a couple will create a website with details about their wedding. One big drawback to a standalone website is that friends aren’t notified when you build or change the website. With Weddingbook, your friends are instantly notified via the news feed when you create or update your wedding profile.

Weddingbook is also a great place to meet other to-be-weds. Brides and grooms use the community to get advice, support, and inspiration.

What do you think made your app more successful than other apps?

Our application was successful due to focus and perseverance. I think many developers are discouraged when their applications don’t see exponential growth on day one. The expectations of developers are inflated by the phenomenal success of a few elite applications. For most applications, it takes time, energy, and experimentation to build something successful.

At my first FacebookCamp in Toronto, the founder of My Aquarium spoke about how he built the application in 2 weeks and was making obscene amounts of money. We’ve been building Weddingbook for over a year. At times it’s been disheartening to see some spammy quiz application zoom past us in a matter of days. But we have a vision for what we want the product to be and we know that it will transform how people plan weddings. We’ve grown slowly and steadily and now have more monthly users than many of the applications we admired when we first started.

What methods did you employ to gain traction among Facebook users and to market your app?  Is this what you would recommend to the next generation of fbFund applicants?

When we started the application we knew that we wouldn’t be able to rely on Zombies-style viral growth due to the niche audience we were targeting. We had to go back to fundamentals — building an application that users love. Once we made that decision, everything else was easy.

To create a successful application on Facebook, you can either build an app that takes advantage of the viral features of the platform or you can build an application that users love. I think it’s easier to build an application by exploiting the viral tools of the platform but easier to build a business by creating an application that users love. Of course if you’re really smart you’ll do both.

How do you plan to spend the $250k?  How do you think Weddingbook will grow?

We have a really strong vision of where we want to take this application.  Right now our users see us as a cool wedding app for Facebook.  We expect to reach a tipping point where we become a must have tool for engaged couples.  The $250k from the fbFund will help us get to that point.

Finally, what changes do you foresee ahead for the Facebook Platform and how will Weddingbook transition smoothly into an independent company?

Facebook is pretty transparent on where they want to take the platform. Through the fbFund, the Great Apps program, the verification program, and stronger policy enforcement they are trying to increase the quality and utility of applications. Users clearly like entertainment and game applications but I think we’ll see some really powerful utility applications emerge over the next 12 months.

The first year of the platform was dominated by the pioneers and the cowboys. Now its time for developers to build lasting value and enduring businesses.

Thanks, Kevin. Best wishes for you and Weddingbook!

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