The Charming, Modern Work of Building & Scaling The Wed Clique From Hygge

Written by Meg Seitz · Photography by Julia Fay

Lisa Huber Ganderson is not only smart and easy to talk to, but also a really charming, modern balance of someone who can speak confidently about two ecosystems you wouldn’t normally pair together.

Ganderson and business partner, Rachael Classi, have paired together the wedding industry and today’s venture capital, entrepreneurial ecosystem – again, in a very charming and modern way – with their startup, The Wed Clique.

After spending three months at the on-site and intensive, Austin-based accelerator, Techstars, Ganderson returned to the Queen City and joined Hygge full-force less than a month ago. In a short period of time, Hygge has become not only a space from which Ganderson and team are able to work productively, but also a community where they can continue to grow the venture. {Continued below}

With a finance-heavy background in public markets as an Equities Trader and then private equity investing experience, Ganderson worked with several venture capital teams to make investments. In April 2016, she quit her job with GE Ventures in Houston and moved to Charlotte; her husband, Matt, had recently accepted a position with Wake Forest University’s Charlotte Center.

Not long after the move, Ganderson reconnected with Rachael Classi, one of her classmates from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, over coffee. The two had always talked about partnering on a business venture.

“Rachael and I ended up getting together and then complaining about wedding planning,” Ganderson shared with a laugh. She had just planned her wedding; Classi had experienced the process recently, as well. “Everything about the process of planning a wedding was hard and old-school and antiquated. Rachael and I had both come from corporate backgrounds that were geared towards efficiency and automation. So, in talking about what bugged us about it all, we decided to go start something and try to solve these problems in the wedding business.”

“Everything about the process of planning a wedding was hard and old-school and antiquated.”

Their initial solution focused on efficiency and automation – a Slack-like, cloud-based, collaborative tool and service – but, for brides-to-be as well as wedding planners and wedding vendors. Upon testing, they found they weren’t addressing the real opportunity. So, in late 2016, they pivoted the business to what it is today. Now, The Wed Clique is a premier networking and referral platform for wedding professionals in the Southeast. Around that same time, they received encouraging news – The Wed Clique was a startup accepted to Techstars, a powerful accelerator in a strong, startup community with experienced, entrepreneurial coaching, mentoring, and the chance to start the pitching and fundraising process.

Techstars was an incredible experience,” Ganderson said. “We were able to bring our virtual team from Philadelphia and Charlotte and Durham together in the same place for three months and really focus on the business and solve our problems; it shifted everything.”

Following Techstars, Ganderson returned to Charlotte; Classi to Durham; and tech lead James Mensch to Philadelphia. It was late April and perfect timing – Classi was eight months pregnant and due in May. To prepare for her maternity leave, Ganderson and Classi knew they would need to hire business development help to keep The Wed Clique’s momentum going.

Enter: Katelin Resta.

Following her own experience as an Associate at Techstars just several years before, the bright, spunky, and smart Katelin Resta had been working in business development for another startup. She was traveling lot, but when she was home in Charlotte, she worked from Hygge. “I had done a lot of research on startup spaces and the startup ecosystem here in Charlotte after I came back from Techstars,” Resta said. “I started listening to the Charlotte podcast which was recorded at Hygge, so Hygge was on my radar screen. I had been working from home and different coffee shops for a whole year, but I liked what Hygge had to offer.” She joined in early 2017, splitting time between Hygge’s W. Hill Street location and Remount Road location.

“I knew I liked this startup space; the projects I can work on with startups are so much more interesting to me, and I really like finding solutions.”

Resta was introduced to Ganderson by another Techstars Alum. Ganderson needed the business development support, and Resta was in the middle of a professional transition. She was looking for an opportunity that re-energized her passion for startups – and solutions.

“Techstars had been my introduction to the startup space,” Resta said. “And I knew I liked this startup space; the projects I can work on with startups are so much more interesting to me, and I really like finding solutions.”

Resta was a perfect fit for The Wed Clique’s need – and energy.

With Classi out on maternity leave for the summer, Ganderson and Resta are hitting the pavement and growing The Wed Clique – from Hygge. And there’s tremendous growth to come.

The Wed Clique has several big milestones to look forward to in the coming months: not only piloting their product and onboarding new vendors to the platform, but also fundraising to continue to grow the business. They recently launched in Georgia and South Carolina, as well, after spending time at Techstars developing the North Carolina business model.

And Hygge offers the tools, resources, and space The Wed Clique needs to keep building – and scaling.

“From being able to take an investor call without background noise from a coffee shop to jumping in a room and whiteboard for a couple of hours, there’s space at Hygge to do everything we need to do,” Ganderson shared. “Not to mention introductions to other people whom we can leverage for help – including all the wedding professionals who work from Hygge who we can get enrolled on The Wed Clique.”

Hygge has not only helped the way in which they work, but also how much they’re able to accomplish.

“Hygge has really shifted our productivity,” Resta noted. “We’re able to get a lot more done together now.”

Getting the right work done in a way that respects how a business is growing? That’s a charming and modern balance, indeed.

Meet the Author: Meg Seitz is the Founder and Managing Creative Partner of toth shop, an agency with one goal: Elevate your brand’s content through powerful writing, creativity, and strategy. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor with Queens University and Founding Partner of the children’s book series, “Bea is for Business”.

She’s an English major with an MBA, so she can talk Homer’s “The Odyssey” just as well as she can talk sunk costs – though she’d much prefer the former.

Meet the photographer: Hi, nice to meet you! I’m Julia. I’m my happiest self when my camera is in hand and I’m taking in this big beautiful world around me! People are my jam and the fact that this job brings so many wonderful people into my life is pretty special.

I grew up performing mostly in front of the camera! Singing, acting, comedy improv – anything on a stage or in front of a lens. The roles began to switch as I entered my freshman year of college and found a creative outlet through photography. My first “real” shoot was when an engaged friend of mine asked me to photograph her and her fiancé. Within moments of getting started, I knew that this was it. Telling peoples love stories, that is what I’m supposed to do! I shot my first wedding at nineteen, and well you know what they say..the rest is history! We’ve been together ever since 🙂