Mariana Campos, a Brazilian lawyer had an idea that could change the way people shop for and plan their weddings. She resolved to turn that idea into a reality, and she hasn’t slowed down since.
But only one year ago, before attending a 3 Day Startup program in Brasilia, Brazil through the US-Brazil Startup Connection, she had never had any experience or involvement in entrepreneurship at all.
Working a full-time job in the public sector, Campos didn’t have the time or the resources to explore her idea until she learned about the program.
Campos explains, “My husband, who works as a teacher at the university received an email to send to his students talking about 3 Day Startup. It happened that, at the same time, I was thinking about the idea I had for a business that was buying and selling used items for weddings to use in the ceremony or reception etc. But I was only thinking about it because I didn’t know how I could start it. And I was thinking about what I could do and how I could do it and he sent me the email.
When I was chosen as one of the 50 participants I met my current partner, Catherine.”
And they have been developing and marketing their company ever since, already having customers and users ready to sell their items, and preparing to officially launch in a couple of months.
“For me 3DS was my turning point. Before that I was kind of lost as to how to do what wanted to do. After the program we could work on our business, talk about it, and develop it through the lens of entrepreneurship and the lean startup.”
Wanting to learn and grow as an entrepreneur as much as possible. Campos also attended our Global Roundup conference and participated in the 3DS Checkpoint program in Belem, Brazil.
“For us, it was very special because we could bring everything that we had developed since 3DS and go deeper. We could also learn about our cofounder relationship and our personal strengths.”
But what inspired her to focus in on this problem and create Vou me Casei! (literally translated to “I will Got married”) to begin with?
“When I was a bride myself,” Campos explains, “I personally went through a lot of these problems. I didn’t care if my dress was new, I only wanted it to be the perfect dress for me. I was also worried about the price. When it comes to weddings, everything gets so expensive. So I was looking for anything to make it cheaper. But I found if very difficult to find used shoes, dresses, and decorations. So that’s how the idea came about for me.”
“I wanted to create a platform where people could easily buy, sell, and donate items for weddings.”
And there is a big space for this kind of platform in Brazil alone. In 2015 the wedding market in Brazil was already over $4.5 billion U.S. dollars and the used items market over $20 billion.
So Campos has big plans for the company.
“We launched the Facebook page for our website not too long ago and currently have over 2000 people interested in our company. Many people are writing to us wanting to buy and sell already so we want to launch as soon as possible.
One of our goals for the company is also to keep some of the emotion from the items. When I got married, my dress had an emotional value for me. So we want to include that in the advertisements and the structure of the platform.”
And that emotional value extends beyond the platform itself. To Campos, it’s been crucial to her experience as an entrepreneur that this is a subject she is really passionate about.
“I got married 3 years ago, and I still love to talk to people about it and recommend things. So this subject gets me excited about working on it. It’s really nice to have something I can call my own and see grow.”
Vou me Casei! is already receiving recognition as a startup on the international level.
Just a few months ago, Campos and her partner Catherine submitted their company to the Ship Startup Festival and were not only selected as one of the 150 most promising startups, but made it to the second round of the 25 most promising startups as well. They were the only startup to be selected from Brazil.
“We are now looking for sponsorship to go to Finland, where the Festival is taking place, in July to compete with the other startups and show all the work we have done so far.”
After that, their next steps are to begin the transactions with their MVP and continue growing their customer base.
And her advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Look for an event or program close to you and go for it. I never imagined I could learn so much and do so much in a weekend as I did at the 3DS program. And never give up. Don’t be afraid of talking about your idea and seeking help or advice. It could make all the difference in your company.”
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