Aisle Planner triumphs amid physical shutdowns that hit the event industry hard
Revenue-based financing bought Aisle Planner extra runway during the pandemic so the business could pivot and come out ahead with a new suite of tools as well as a new platform that connects planning professionals directly to consumers.
Use of funds:
Develop new products and solutions
Smooth out cash flow with flexible payments
Generate new revenue streams
Lighter Capital Funding
22% YoY growth in 2020
Raised VC funding in 2021
Acquired by Fullsteam in November 2021
Growth & Achievements
An unexpected COVID-19 success story
The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies in event-centric industries to quickly adapt longstanding business models upended during physical shutdowns. As a leader in the non-dilutive funding space for SaaS startups, Lighter Capital had a front row seat to the turbulence that hit many of our clients, and we were right by their side as many pivoted overnight.
One unexpected success story that emerged from our portfolio comes from Aisle Planner, a business built around providing design, planning, and production tools for the wedding and events industry. An industry we could reasonably expect to be hit hard by the pandemic. The company more than survived – it saw a remarkable 22% year-on-year growth in revenue in 2020.
Leveraging the power of data
One of the key success factors in Aisle Planner’s turnaround story was the ability to leverage its global customer base to glean insights into trends impacting the wedding industry. In late November, customers from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and surrounding areas began reaching out for assistance to move elements of events they had created to future dates. The team immediately took note of these trends and developed new features to provide an easy solution for these clients. By mid-December, Aisle Planner saw rapid adoption with a high volume of usage, while continuing to evolve its offering as COVID-19 impacted more of its customer base.
By early February, the Aisle Planner team recognized that the novel coronavirus was going to shut down the U.S. in a way it had never seen before and began to adapt its strategy for an uncertain future. As stay-at-home orders went into effect and business shutdowns became mandatory, Aisle Planner continued to evolve its business by changing the focus of its content to education and resource-sharing for customers.
Adapting tools to changing demands
Once it had made the transition into a “new normal,” Aisle Planner began to find a novel footing in the wedding industry. Unlike many social or corporate events that can be cancelled, weddings are unique in that they are lifetime events. As a result, many of the couples who were planning a wedding in 2020 opted to postpone rather than cancel. This led to unintended consequences for businesses in the industry, with companies scrambling to deal with a full year of operating expenses without weddings and a doubling in the number of postponed events the year after.
As Aisle Planner saw customer demand shifting with the pandemic, it evolved old tools to new trends. The company tailored new programs for customers to accommodate for the short-term surge in demand, adapting its tools and pricing to meet new customer needs.
The role of non-dilutive funding
At every step of the way, Lighter Capital has been a partner to Aisle Planner. As a revenue-based lender, Lighter varies the client’s monthly payment obligations based on their cash collections. This means Lighter Capital’s customers do not face an onerous burden.
Over the years, Lighter has supported Aisle Planner with easy, transparent, and consistent access to capital. In the words of Rob Farrow, the co-founder and CEO of Aisle Planner, Lighter has only provided loans “with a clearly articulated path for the funds in the growth of our business.”
According to Rob, when COVID-19 shutdowns first began, “the team from Lighter was one of the first to reach out, check in on us, our team and offer help if we needed it. To me that spoke volumes to the character of not only our contacts there but the company as a whole.”
Lessons learned for the path ahead
Coming out of the pandemic, Aisle Planner intends to make the most of lessons learned to strengthen its business. It plans to share its resources and make its suite of tools easily accessible to every business. From a strategic perspective, it also recently completed and launched the Aisle Guide, a new platform designed to amplify the voices and work of planning professionals and create a direct connection to consumers.