Executive Spotlight -  Elizabeth Sheils: A Creative Tech Solution for the Behind-the-Scenes Heroes of the Weddings Industry

Executive Spotlight -  Elizabeth Sheils: A Creative Tech Solution for the Behind-the-Scenes Heroes of the Weddings Industry

For Elizabeth Sheils, behind the scenes of a wedding is where the true magic happens. The multitude of people who bring last minute details together, those unsung heroes guests rarely see, are responsible for executing the beautiful milestone events every couple hopes for. Sheils’ initial foray into the wedding and event planning world as an assistant at Oregon-based Bridal Bliss left her “starry-eyed,” she said. “After graduating from the University of Portland and starting at a desk job, I had one of those “oh no, I made a mistake” moments,” Sheils said. “I reached out to Nora Sheils at Bridal Bliss about opportunities to assist with weddings as needed, and once I started, I knew I was exactly where I should be.”

Sheils’ career in wedding planning took off, and she quickly moved into leading planning for events and helping Nora expand the business into Seattle. The duo’s partnership continued to grow and evolve (so much so that Nora introduced Elizabeth to her brother-in-law, whom she eventually married, also becoming a Sheils). As the business scaled up, certain inefficiencies became clear.

“Coordinators in the industry can spend a lot of time hand holding both vendors and couples during the booking and planning process,” Sheils said. “Everyone’s got different tools to manage the process or in some cases no tools at all.”

The Sheils pair began looking for a platform that could help the folks on the backend of planning manage the process, including invoicing and contracts. At the time, there was nothing on the market that fit this need, something Sheils said the two ended up commiserating over drinks about. “We finally went, ‘why don’t we build this?’” Sheils said. “We initially had no clue what was involved in this, but we’re lucky to know folks in the tech space we could learn from.”

After spending some time getting educated in software building, Sheils began working with a development shop to create what is now Rock Paper Coin. They excitedly launched their initial release in November 2019, only to be derailed by COVID-19 just a few months later. However, Sheils quickly saw new opportunities in the detour the pandemic created.

“During the pandemic, no one wanted to do anything in person, touch physical contracts, anything like that,” she said. “Nora and I realized everyone was going to need a digital process now, and we started speaking at industry events about the importance of streamlining backend processes.”

The pause in events also gave Sheils a unique opportunity to do extended iteration and product testing with vendors. Once restrictions from COVID-19 eased and events began happening at a more regular frequency, Rock Paper Coin was there to meet the pent-up demand. "We’re a scrappy team and I am so proud of how far we’ve come,” Sheils said. “Rock Paper Coin was one of the first to monetize payments in this space, and we’re now working on creating a CRM that better manages leads for vendors and coordinators.”

Sheils sees many similarities between the wedding and tech startup industries and says the startup network in Oregon was vital to Rock Paper Coin’s ability to weather COVID-19. She also credits having a solid co-founder for the company’s success. “There is zero chance I could have done this without my co-founder, Nora,” she said. “We both plan to keep working hard, giving back to Oregon's tech community, and pushing to elevate more women founders.”

Thank you to A.wordsmith for interviewing, Elizabeth Sheils, Co-founder of Rock Paper Coin.

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