Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Is It Time to Unleash a Social Enterprise Internet Business on the Global Multibillion Dollar Wedding Industry? A Case study.(Instructor's Note)

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Is It Time to Unleash a Social Enterprise Internet Business on the Global Multibillion Dollar Wedding Industry? A Case study.(Instructor's Note)

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter is the potential entry of a business with a social enterprise strategy into a highly competitive industry. It can be used to introduce business social enterprise, triple bottom line, and sustainability strategies and practices. Secondary issues include the use of business plan competitions for testing out an idea, securing initial funding, and developing vital networks. The case has a difficulty level of three to five and works well in the undergraduate policy or strategy capstone class or first-year MBA. It is designed to be taught in one to two class hours.


This case revisits a business plan that won first place in 1999 in its university's business plan competition. Subsequent to winning the award, the team had concluded the opportunity, as they had explored it, was a "too-little-too-late" Internet startup, and the team members were not in a position to want to pursue an online wedding information site at the height of the dot-com boom. Six years later, Bill, the would-have-been CEO of Wedding Information Site, received an e-mail from his instructor urging him to revise the strategic position of Wedding Information Site and secure an MBA team to enter the business plan competition again. The instructor proposes that a social enterprise component be added to the business strategy that would result in a significant impact for good (i.e., the "triple bottom line" of people, profits, and environment) on the $70 billion a year wedding industry in the United States alone. The key issue is how to position Wedding Information Site's social enterprise strategy and practices to become a competitive force, to secure initial financing, and ultimately to become a desirable buyout from an established competitor or to become a significant competitive force in the multibillion dollar industry. Venture capitalists are not traditionally known for looking first at social return, then financial return. However, this is potentially a very compelling investment opportunity for the right investor.

This case is a teaching tool to explore how to use social enterprise and the triple bottom line strategies and practices from the startup as a viable market entry strategy. This model can potentially change an industry and have a significant impact on people, profits, and environment while meeting the needs of various stakeholders, including shareholders. It is arguably the predominate model of the 21st century for doing business.


Case Overview

The won the University's grand prize business plan award in 1999, the first annual business plan competition. The team's members, however, were at career spots that did not lend themselves to engaging in any startup at that time. Also, at this time was emerging as a serious force in that space, and it went public later that year. The Knot became profitable in 2003, seven years into its business, and has been in a strong growth mode ever since. The Knot has stayed the course with a clearly profitable "bottom line" approach focused on giving the best source of information for those getting married. The wedding related market is an estimated $70 to $150 billion market in the United States alone. China and Europe are also seeing a real surge in this market. In the emerging social enterprise/sustainable era of post 9/11, post dot-com, post Enron, post Martha Stewart, post Hurricane Katrina, it is conceivable that strategies not previously considered as being viable will be impacting entire industries and businesses from small to large. Indications are that there is increasing demand for value-oriented wedding/marriage starts. The average cost of a wedding at $26,000 means large segments of the population are spending increasingly large amounts of money for weddings. It also means large segments of the population are not able to participate, at least not in the way the wedding industry is now serving the market. …

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