March is National Women’s History Month, and Creative Click Media is celebrating by featuring some of our favorite female entrepreneurs including MissNowMrs.com founder & CEO Danielle Tate. The trend of a bride taking her husband’s name after a marriage has been a longtime tradition in American culture, but Danielle quickly learned this could be a daunting task after three failed attempts of her own. Knowing there had to be an easier way for brides to change their name without having to jump through hoops, she took a gamble leaving her full-time job to create MissNowMrs.com. Beginning as a startup and launching into a multi-million dollar business, MissNowMrs.com has been alleviating brides’ stress since 2006 and continues to trailblaze the name change industry.
Why were you inspired to start MissNowMrs.com?
Failure inspired the creation of MissNowMrs.com. Three failed attempts to change my name on my driver’s license sparked the idea for an online name-change service. I was so frustrated at the waste of time and energy to put my married name on a piece of plastic. I wondered why there wasn’t “TurboTax for a name change.” That one question led to the creation of a multi-million dollar company.
How did your business get started? From the good, bad and ugly, what was your startup process like?
My business start was very un-movie-like! I didn’t have the idea and immediately quit my job, take outside funding, and hire employees. Instead, I had the idea for MissNowMrs for a few months before I began doing research to see if there was an actual name-change pain point and if there was a big enough market to support a company.
I dug through journal articles and census data to learn that there are 2.3 million marriages in the U.S. annually, and 88% of those result in a name change. I then called all 50 state DMV offices to understand the name-change filing processes…and it turns out that name-change is a pain no matter where you live!
I still didn’t quit my job after that! I spent 6 months of evenings, weekends, and un-fun holidays doing the grunt coding of forms and instructions. Finally, I hit a point in the process where I realized that MissNowMrs would never get off the ground if I didn’t give it my full attention. That’s when I left my six-figure salary as a sales rep. My manager thought I had lost my mind, but I was confident that I would be successful, and honestly if my company crashed and burned I could easily go back to a sales career. It was worth the risk to see if I could hack it as an entrepreneur.
What niche or hole in the market are you filling with MissNowMrs.com?
I created the online name-change niche. When I got married, there was a 200-page book on how to change your name or a few paper kits that mailed you a stack of forms you had to sort through and figure out. By automating the completion process online we disrupted the industry standard of waiting days for something to arrive in the mail and then manually filling out forms.
How much has your business changed from day one until now?
We are ever-changing and ever-growing. MissNowMrs now has a sister site for divorcees: GetYourNameBack.com and a sister site for a legal name change: NameChangeNextStep. We have created platforms that funnel brides into our service via the MarriedNameGame and MarriageLicenseNow. As we scale past 350,000 customers in 2 countries, we are still focused on making our customer’s lives easier and happier. So, we are now a medium-sized company with a startup’s heart.
What are your biggest challenges in marketing MissNowMrs.com?
We have one-time customers and a small price point. This means we spend a great deal of effort finding and engaging with new brides to keep our funnel full.
Another challenge is that most women don’t know how tedious name change is, so we have to educate them on the problem before we can sell them the solution. This is what motivated me to create the MarriedNameGame, which uses 8 questions to determine a woman’s ideal married name. It’s so accurate we have a patent pending on the algorithm.
What types of marketing are most effective for your business?
Social media marketing has been integral to our success. We started before Facebook and Twitter (for real), so understanding and adapting to new marketing platforms was key for our success and longevity.
What is the #1 lesson you learned since starting MissNowMrs.com?
Never wish for it more than you work for it. You can wish to be a successful startup, or you can work to ensure you are a successful startup. You can wish for strategic partnerships, or you can do the hard work of finding the right individuals within the right companies to create a partnership with. Most of the overnight successes we read about were years in the making.
If you won $50,000, how would you invest it in your business?
There are some new social media marketing startups with really cool new ideas and applications. I would invest in testing out three to see what worked best with our product and market.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
Read Elegant Entrepreneur. It’s the book I wrote to help aspiring entrepreneurs understand the 12 steps from idea to exit and how it feels along that journey.
What can we expect from MissNowMrs.com in the next year?
I’m not allowed to formally say anything…but keep an eye out for an app or two. 😉
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