A wedding can be one of the most exciting celebrations to witness, but planning a wedding can also be total chaos. Renee Walsh recognized this trend and decided technology could come to the rescue. Renee now streamlines the wedding planning process through her app, Wiithyu, that helps take some of the crazy out of the party planning. In addition to giving us the scoop on her startup, Renee discusses the key elements to her success and advice she would give women looking to enter the space. Enjoy!
Instagram handle: @Wiithyu
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Occupation: Founder & CEO, Wiithyu
University: American University
Secretly Obsessed With: Oooh, take your pick. Anything Disney or anatomy & physiology
On My Nightstand: Pens (always have to have pens around), Kiehl’s hand lotion, Lacroix, jewelry holder and all of my reading list books (Sophia Amoruso, Amy Schumer, Jessica Herrin), Stowaway lipstick, mini champagne bottle with custom “R” koozie that my friend Allie gave me to ask me to be her bridesmaid :)
Last Thing You Read: Find Your Extraordinary by Jessica Herrin
Tell us about your journey to Wiithyu.
Wiithyu began in September of 2015 when I had just turned 30. A coworker of mine was getting married and said she wished that she could use a collaboration tool to make planning her wedding easier. “Ah-ha!”, Wiithyu was born. I immediately went home and put together a pitch deck and presentation of what this app would be and who it would serve. I partnered with SolTech who is an amazing app development group in Atlanta to build the app. We kicked the project off in January 2016 and launched this past July (happy 2 months to us!)
I’ve been told that I have a knack for planning and organization – in fact, I made a career out of it. But what I’m truly passionate about is spending time with my family. That’s why I created Wiithyu because I know how precious and valuable your time is, and how much better wedding planning can be when it’s fun and efficient. It’s amazing to see how a little fun, collaboration and ease can go a long way. I’ve been blessed with an idea to do what I love, to help others do what they love, for the people that they love.
What key elements played into your success?
Make a plan - a professional and personal one. I was leaving the security of my full time job which wasn’t only going to affect me, but my fiance as well. I needed to know how long I could work on Wiithyu until I transitioned to full-time entrepreneur. I needed to plan out my finances, have a business plan, work out pricing, events, networking, publicity, etc. I'm all for taking a leap to fly, but have a flight plan first.
Know your strengths and hire your weaknesses - I am not a programmer or app developer. I’m also not a website designer or videographer. These are all of the jobs that I hired people to be experts and showcase their talents to bring my vision to life - they nailed it.
The difference between entrepreneur and entrepreneurial tendencies - You know if you’re in it to win it. You know if you have something that you’ll kind of do after work and on the weekends or if you have something you are all in for. Knowing the difference and limitations of each will allow you to decide is this more of a passion project or am I in it for the long haul to make this happen.
Timing - there is never a good time to do anything. If you know you have a good idea and are prepared to pursue it with everything you have you’ll go for it. Whether it’s personal or professional there are always 99 reason not to do something - but you only need that one that will carry you through it all. Go for it.
What what's your favorite part of your day?
Making coffee in the morning :) It’s a necessity in my life, but also my quiet time where I can prep for the day, make to do lists and simply get after it.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
Awareness. We are a brand-spanking new company. Because there isn’t anything like this on the market, consumers aren’t aware or think “Hey, where is this thing?”. It’s all hands on deck to get the word out about Wiithyu and get couples and brides to start talking about it to show their friends and get them interested.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
I have two - my family and other female entrepreneurs.
My great grandparents came to America and established their own businesses which still thrive today. My parents also have their own businesses, so it’s something I’ve always been around. I’ve learned how to start with a little and work your way up to a lot, but the key word is work. Nothing happens overnight and you have to be willing to be in it for the long haul and then some.
I love following the work of female entrepreneurs. Sarah Blakely, Jessica Herrin, Sophia Amoruso, Alli Webb, Bethenny Frankel, Oprah Winfrey, the list goes on and one. One of the coolest things for me was to see successful business women on the cover of Forbes magazine. I love seeing all of the books, forums, podcasts and attention that women are getting for their professional success. The conversation is changing from one of “women are in the workplace” to “women are owningthe workplace”. It’s an awesome community to be a part of and a voice that is not just being heard by women, but men as well. #GoUs.
When do you feel most successful?
When I make connections with people. I love meeting someone, whether it’s a customer, business contact or vendor who says, “This is amazing, where has this been?” that is a really good feeling. The reason why I created Wiithyu was to help solve a problem so to recognize others acknowledgment that Wiithyu is the solution is really special.
What's the best advice you received when starting Wiithyu?
Knowing that it’s going to take time. People assume when you’re an entrepreneur that money and publicity is going to be thrown at you left and right, and all of a sudden you’re an overnight success. That’s simply not the case. There are an infinite amount of steps from point A to wherever it is you are, and when you’re an entrepreneur the work is never done, so be patient with the process and be diligent in your work.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m a 30 year old, self-funded, tech CEO. That feels pretty darn good :)
What advice would you give to women looking to enter the tech industry?
There is no mold - be yourself, love what you do, ask questions, be diligent, have a voice. I’ve heard women, not just in technology but other industries say, “I don’t fit the typical…” - well that’s a good thing. Be the outlier.
Find the topics or situations that make you the most uncomfortable stare at them in the face, address them, and work to fix them. People know what they can and can’t get away with when it comes to working with you, and we only get what we tolerate. If you establish boundaries, are confidant and have unmatched negotiating skills you can be unstoppable.