Tie the Knot Chosen for FirstWaVE Accelerator Program

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Wedding planning startup selected for intensive mentoring program designed to ready early stage companies for venture capital investment.

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'Getting accepted into the FirstWaVE Accelerator Program is a significant step in the evolution of our company,' said Tie the Knot co-founder and CEO Eric Larsen.

The founders of Tie the Knot, the mobile app that makes wedding planning, inviting, and sharing news with family and friends as easy as picking up your iPhone, have been selected to join Class III of the FirstWaVE Accelerator Program. The program, which has a goal of helping 50 local tech startups secure an average of $500,000 in funding and a minimum of five local tech startups secure at least $1 million in funding, is administered through Tampa Bay WaVE. The organization, a ‘by entrepreneur, for entrepreneur’ non-profit that helps entrepreneurs turn ideas into growing tech ventures in Tampa Bay, chose Tie the Knot after a competitive selection process ending in a in a formal pitch to four area executives who serve on FirstWaVE’s vetting committee. Tie the Knot will formally begin the program with the other seven Class III participants on July 1st.

“Getting accepted into the FirstWaVE Accelerator Program is a significant step in the evolution of our company,” said Tie the Knot co-founder and CEO Eric Larsen. “It provides us with access to the intellectual capital of Tampa Bay's tech community and will help us make the strategic partnerships we need to fuel our growth."

Since launching the Tie the Knot mobile app and responsive web site last fall, Larsen and his co-founders Chris Bentivenga and Brandon Bentivenga have been busy fine tuning the app’s guest experience with their design and development partners, Haneke Design, and promoting it nationwide. Last month, Tie the Knot began airing a national ad campaign on the wedding themed TLC series Say Yes to the Dress, and is currently featured on Green Wedding Shoes, the popular wedding style blog.

The Tie the Knot App lets couples design their own wedding app and website, upload photos, and features sections for guest lists, events, and accommodations. Additional features include gift registries and tools that help guests plan their travel, select and ship gifts, and mark their calendars for wedding-related events. Brides and grooms can detail the history and milestones in their relationship in a section called “Our Story,” and post updates and photos of things like cake tastings, dress fittings, and wedding destination activities on their own blog. The blog invites comments so that friends and family can share their thoughts and feedback. A Wedding Songs section also encourages guests to post their favorite selections for the DJ to play at the wedding reception.
Couples can also customize their application with their own color selections and themes ranging from traditional to modern. They can even upload their own cover image – similar to a Facebook Timeline cover – to further personalize their app.

As participants in the First WaVE Accelerator Program, Larsen and the Bentivengas will receive intensive mentoring from coaches who will help them to refine their business model, develop strategic partnerships, enhance marketing and promotional efforts, and put their organization on a path to profitability that will be attractive for investors looking to invest in innovative companies in the wedding industry. The expectation of Tie the Knot and other Class III participants is that they will “graduate” from the program and be ready to pitch to venture capitalists and other funders.

“Our selection process for Class III was rigorous,” said Linda Olson, Tampa Bay WaVE board president. “Tie the Knot impressed the vetting committee by having carefully thought through their business model. They had a great understanding of what they needed to achieve their goals, offered projections that made sense, and outlined an ambitious but realistic plan for turning their venture into a fundable and profitable deal. We’re excited to be working with them.”

The Tie the Knot app is free and available for download from Apple’s iTunes Store and on the company’s web site, http://www.tietheknotapp.com.

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Michelle Bauer
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