In the United States, the average cost to throw a wedding in 2018 was $24,723. While a $72 billion industry, according to MarketResearch, might seem like a breeding ground for startups, few organizations have been able to actually flourish in the industry that is forced to find new costumers each year.
But Zola, the online wedding hub, exists not only as the fastest-growing company in the wedding planning and gift industry but also as one of the top two most visited wedding websites in the country. Learn more about the six-year-old company that has already managed to raise $140.8 million in funding and help over one million couples plan their weddings.
Zola fast facts
Size: 180 employees
Industry: Internet & E-commerce
Locations: Zola’s headquarters is in New York, NY, but the company also has offices in Charlottesville, VA, and Montreal, Canada.
Founders: Shan-Lyn Ma and Nobu Nakaguchi
CEO: Shan-Lyn Ma
Mission: Zola’s “goal is to serve couples from the moment they get engaged all the way into newlywed life,” according to Ma.
Fun fact: Zola’s leadership is made up of more than 50% women.
How much do Zola employees make?
The average salary for a Zola employee is $103,333 per year. Ladders estimates are based on our calculations.
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What Zola says it takes to get hired
“The most important thing we look for when interviewing someone for a position at Zola is authentic passion for the product and company,” said Kathleen DeTurris, the senior recruitment manager at Zola. “We’re a fast-growing company, so the ability to be resourceful and scrappy is an essential skill.”
DeTurris added that she’s most impressed by candidates who can provide concrete examples of how they have or will make the most of resources while working in a fast-paced environment. As a startup, the company also looks for candidates who are easily able to work cross-functionally.
There’s more good news for anyone who likes to work with great people. “We have a strict no-a**hole policy,” DeTurris said. “It’s important to us that everyone who works here is genuinely nice and a great person to work with.”
So, in your Zola interview, make sure to show how you’ve excelled in fast-paced offices, how much you admire Zola, and how you’ll contribute to the office environment in a positive way. It also might not hurt to mention that you’re pretty passionate about cake, as well. We’ll explain why later.
Complete list of Zola investors and funding rounds
With 9 investors, the private company has raised $140.8 million over four rounds of funding. The Series A round, which was announced on Nov. 5, 2013, included one investor. The latest funding was the Series D round, which was announced on May 3, 2018, and included six investors. Comcast Ventures was the lead investor in the Series D funding, which raised $100 million.
“We also picked Comcast Ventures to be our lead investor because Comcast and [fellow investor] NBC are market leaders in media with wide reach,” Ma told TechCrunch directly following the funding announcement. “They’ll help us with our marketing and awareness goals, which is a big opportunity and area of focus for us in the coming year.”
CEO Shan-Lyn Ma on office life
Ma told Ladders that this startup isn’t looking for just the top talent when hiring new employees. “We also value kind people who enjoy working as part of a team and care about the greater good,” Ma said.
The office includes fun and flexibility in order to keep employees feeling energized. A flexible vacation policy and a knack for celebrations in the office are a few ways the company combats burnout. “We also eat a lot of cake around here,” Ma admits. “We’re a wedding company!”
In fact, the team loves cake so much that it named its new kitchen for it. Employees can enjoy lunch (or dessert) at “The Cake Stand.”
Maintaining a startup culture is something the company strives to do despite its tremendous growth over the past six years. “One way we do that is by cultivating a culture of innovation,” Ma said. “If you have an idea for a change to the site or a new feature for the Zola app you’re encouraged to take that project on…everyone’s opinion here is heard equally.”
Zola Office Life
- Flexible spending account
- Disability insurance
- Life insurance
- 401K Plan
- Paid holidays
- Unlimited vacation
- Great healthcare + pet insurance
- Kitchen stocked with snacks, cold brew, kombucha and seltzer on tap
- Celebrations at least once a month (featuring cake)
- Gym discounts
- Company discount
- Employee assistance program
- Company social events
- Commuter checks & assistance
- In-office gif photo booth
- New NYC headquarters
- A fun work environment with regular happy hours and company-wide activities
Zola employee reviews 2019
Reviews on Glassdoor range from one-star reviews titled “No vision or process” to five-star reviews exclaiming that this is the “Best place I’ve ever worked!”
Others encourage that the office is a “happy” and “exciting” place to work with “strong leadership” and a “focused team.”
The reviews, whether positive or negative, all come to the consensus that if you work with this startup team, you’re going to learn a lot. “You get full exposure into what it’s like to work at a fast-paced startup,” one reviewer wrote. “Zola is extremely transparent into how the business is performing and encourages questions and feedback from all employees. I’ve learned so much from all of the talented people at Zola.”
So if Zola is free, how does the company make money?
While the descriptor “wedding startup” can be a bit ambiguous, the company clears up any questions of what kind of business it is right on their website, describing the company as “first and foremost, a store.” The company makes a retail margin on all the registry items it sells directly, but not off cash funds. The website currently hosts over 80,000 gifts and gift cards from over 800 brands. Many people will ask this question because Zola is completely free for couples to plan their wedding and any event that’s attached to a wedding.
Zola product rundown
Zola offers four key services to wedding planners and guests: Registry, Websites, Invites + Paper and Wedding Shop. The brand also runs a blog to offers wedding inspiration, wedding planning insight, newlywed advice, and a spot to hear from couples who are using or have used the services to plan their wedding.
The registry function allows wedding planners to create their registry on Zola using products and experiences that Zola sells, as well as allowing the creator to add products from other stores.
Couples can build a website that becomes home to all the info a guest will need about the big day. Guests can visit your website to RSVP and shop on your registry. Couples can create and order save the dates and wedding invitations that match the website they’ve created. The “Planning” portion of the website allows couples to create a guest list and wedding checklist. Couples can browse expert advice, wedding vendors, and real wedding inspiration.
Speaking of matching your invites to your website, customers can design and order an array of paper products for their wedding. Anything paper that you’ll need, Zola will have, including save the dates, invites, programs, menus, and thank you cards.
The Wedding Shop is where couples can browse and buy anything they’ll need for their wedding events. From wedding rings to bridesmaid dress to party favors, the Wedding Shop has everything from engagement to honeymoon covered.