Engagement Is Heart Of Tim Chi’s ’98 Success

Anyone tying the knot or attending a wedding in recent years has likely heard of The Knot Worldwide, a global company offering websites, mobile apps and resources for wedding, baby and celebration planning. Tim Chi ’98, founder and CEO, holds an Operations Research/Industrial Engineering B.A. from Cornell and co-founded online learning platform CourseInfo, which would later become Blackboard, Inc., as an undergraduate. Chi continues to inspire connections through the Entrepreneurship at Cornell Advisory Council, encouraging networking and mentorship opportunities for young entrepreneurs.

How did you get the idea for The Knot Worldwide, and what problem does it solve?

It was the summer of 2005, and I was planning my own wedding, while having attended eight other weddings of friends and family leading up to mine in the few months prior. So, I felt the stress and pain points very acutely, particularly as it relates to selecting and hiring all our wedding professionals. There were wedding publications that educated and inspired but no platforms that made it possible to plan and hire vendors online. It would have been great to fly less between where I lived at the time in Boston, and our wedding venue in Toronto.

Tim and Tracey Chi's wedding.

Credit: Provided

Tim and Tracey Chi’s wedding.

At the same time, I noticed that “online vertical marketplaces” were springing up everywhere as a purpose-built antidote to broad horizontal search platforms. This led to the proverbial “light bulb” moment-a purpose-built online vertical marketplace, powered by user-generated reviews from newlyweds, for weddings. From this, WeddingWire was born.

Alongside my co-founders, Lee Wang (Cornell ’97), Sonny Ganguly and Jeff Yeh, we designed a first-of-its-kind two-sided marketplace for the wedding industry to bring both sides of the industry-couples and vendors-together to create a more seamless experience, focused on finding the perfect wedding vendors for any couple’s big day.

In 2019, we merged WeddingWire with XO Group, parent company of The Knot, and became The Knot Worldwide. Today, we serve roughly 35 million people across our family of brands, and within our global wedding marketplace, we connect more than 4 million couples each year with nearly 850,000 vendors.

Through all of us, our purpose remains the same-to help couples celebrate the moments that make them. I’m really proud that we get to play a role in being part of these important life moments.

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