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HomeArtsOntario Tech alumnus launches wedding marketplace app for South Asian and diverse...

Ontario Tech alumnus launches wedding marketplace app for South Asian and diverse communities

Planning a South Asian-style wedding in Durham is no small feat. It typically requires sifting through and combining services from various vendors who understand and cater to specific cultural needs, which is often a challenging and piecemeal endeavour.

This was the precise challenge Sinan Mohsin, 28, faced while planning his Muslim wedding, a hurdle that led him to create the app Rasam, in collaboration with his business partners Farooq Darsot and Sidrah Khatoon.

The application is a niche wedding marketplace platform that caters to the diverse cultural needs of couples in Durham Region.

The platform connects couples with specialized vendors experienced in various cultural ceremonies, particularly those of South Asian and communities of colour.

After graduating from Ontario Tech University’s business program in 2020, Mohsin’s personal journey through the intricate process of planning his Islamic wedding in Oct. 2023 led to the conception of Rasam.

During the wedding planning process, Mohsin encountered significant challenges in finding vendors knowledgeable about his cultural requirements. Mohsin described the planning process as akin to having a “second job.”

While planning, he couldn’t find a platform to inform customers about vendors who fit the ceremony he wanted. He had to be very proactive and contact vendors, asking if they cater to his community. Otherwise, he and his fiancée had to mix and match vendors to make it work.

Shows a woman in a flowin dress that spans across two chairs. She is seated and looking down at a dish with yellow flowers in it. The Dress covers most of the seats as well as the lawn around the seats. 

She also has a jewelled fixture that matches the dress and hangs from it onto her forehead and a jewelled neckpiece that matches the red and beige patterned dress. 

The Dress is red and is embroidered with beige artwork.
An example of what customers can do when planning. The Shaadi dress is a traditional South Asian wedding dress. The example was shown on an online planning board created using Rasam. Photo credit: Sinan Mohsin

His wedding planning experience motivated him to create a platform that simplifies the process for couples to connect with wedding vendors capable of customizing services to meet specific ceremonial preferences.

“If we can bring all these types of vendors that are accessible to this community, it’ll be a great thing because we [Muslims] do have a lot of events when we get married,” he said.

Wedding customs vary from culture to culture. In Mohsin’s tradition, wedding events typically occur over three to five days.

Given the growing population of South Asian immigrants and international students in the Durham Region, Mohsin believes there is a significant market opportunity for vendors and couples within the South Asian market community.

He said that they have discovered that many couples do not engage professional wedding planners when they get married. “They don’t have anyone helping them out. Also, most couples try to do it themselves, and it’s very overwhelming,” Mohsin said. “Rasam is a place where couples can find everything needed to help them get started with wedding planning.”

To ease the stress involved in the wedding process, Mohsin’s team designed Rasam, enabling customers to book consultations with vendors.

Vendors can have scheduling links to Rasam on social media to make the scheduling process more accessible.

Mohsin says another feature they offer vendors is analytics that detail the performance of their services and products, along with data on how often couples recommend these services to others, thereby increasing their reliability score.

“[For] someone that is getting married, it’s super important…to know that they’re getting a trusted vendor [who] is experienced and can execute their vision,” he said.

Mohsin’s team has been proactive, forging partnerships with a variety of wedding service providers including decor specialists, sign makers, DJs, photographers, videographers, venues, and planners.

Mohsin’s team is heavily utilizing Instagram ads, as their user research shows couples tend to use Pinterest or Instagram to connect with vendors. “Based on our user research, about 80 per cent of their clients have reached out to these vendors through Instagram,” he said.

Rasam marks another entrepreneurial venture for Mohsin, not his first. During his time at Ontario Tech, he collaborated with Brilliant Catalyst, an organization on campus dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurship and empowering students to bring their business visions to life.

In his undergraduate years, working with the Brilliant Entrepreneurship program, Mohsin launched his initial startup, Snippet, between 2016 and 2017. Similar to Rasam, Snippet also functioned as an online marketplace.

“Social commerce was just becoming a thing. A lot of people were gravitating towards buying products through social media,” Mohsin said.

As Mohsin developed Snippet, he entered the K Startup Grand Challenge in 2018. The South Korean government sponsored a competition that lasted several months, and Mohsin represented one of two Canadian startups. He competed against over 70 other participants worldwide.

Although Mohsin did not win, he learned a lot from the competition.

“It was a great experience. I got to meet a diverse set of companies and founders, and that definitely added a lot to my understanding and learning of entrepreneurship, just learning from them, collaborating with them,” he said.

He also developed another business selling sneakers in India before Rasam. He said the company was “somewhat successful” before the pandemic, adding another hurdle. Mohsin decided to take it as a learning experience.

Mohsin’s challenges as an entrepreneur continued after the pandemic. He said the most demanding challenge his current team has faced with Rasam is contacting vendors who are either well established or just starting out.

“Some vendors aren’t that open to adopting new technologies, and some are very open but just don’t have the time to onboard and stuff,” Mohsin said.

To address this, his team plans to assist vendors with the on-boarding process and show the value Rasam can add to their business.