Online flower delivery service The Bouqs Company has announced completion of a $1.1 million seed funding round from Quest Venture Partners, Siemer Ventures and angel investors as it scales up its budding business.
While I realize the phrase “ripe for disruption” is often overused when referring to markets, online flower delivery is definitely a case that deserves the label. Interactions with the current players leave me feeling like I’ve been tricked out of my money after all the hidden fees and shipping and handling charges.
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Los Angeles-based The Bouqs, which recently caught our eye at Silicon Beach Fest, is taking a drastically different approach that will be hugely popular with buyers. The site’s bouquets are priced at a flat $40, inclusive of shipping within the US, and the flowers are cut-to-order and sourced directly from the side of an active volcano in South America.
Subscription options make things even easier by letting customers arrange to have flowers arrive on certain dates, at random, or at recurring intervals, all at a 10 percent discount.
Angel investors participating in the seed round include Mich Mathews, former CMO of Microsoft; Dennis Phelps, partner at Institutional Venture Partners; Andy Dunn, CEO/founder of Bonobos; and Brian Spaly, CEO/founder of Trunk Club.
After launching last November, The Bouqs has already passed in $500,000 in year-to-date revenue and 200,000 blooms shipped. The company plans to use its new cash to expand its team and begin marketing the service.
“The Bouqs Company’s vertically integrated supply chain separates the company from other online flower delivery brands,” Siemer Ventures co-founder and managing partner Eric Manlunas said. “By controlling the entire sales process, from the ordering and picking of the stems to the shipping of the Bouq, the company can own the customer experience and guarantee quality. I am truly excited for the future of TheBouqs.com.”
Having recently experienced the pain of ordering flowers online from other vendors, I was very curious to try The Bouqs. The startup has done a good job sorting its bouquets and adding snappy descriptions, so choosing a couple designs was simple and check out was easy.
One drawback to the site is the fact that shipments arrive in about five to seven days at the earliest. In theory, subscriptions should cut down on last-minute orders, since I could schedule months in advance for flowers to go out on birthdays and holidays. The Bouqs founder John Tabis said in an interview the company is working to provide more immediate delivery solutions later this year.
To the startup’s credit, a longer delivery time comes as a justifiable tradeoff since the bouquets are fresher and cheaper than competitors that source their blooms through wholesale.
JP Montúfar, The Bouqs COO and co-founder explains:
“Our farms and cut-to-order fulfillment process make us incredibly unique…The key to the best and brightest flowers is sunlight, which is why we grow our flowers where we do. And, our flowers are delivered just four days after they’re cut, versus up to 10-14 days elsewhere. Receiving our cut-to-order Bouqs gives our customers the same experience of walking in from their own backyard with a handful of fresh-cut flowers.
Tabis also noted that the vertical solution makes the sourcing process more eco- and worker-friendly. Cutting to order eliminates waste and cuts down on refrigeration costs and energy usage. Montúfar is based in South America, so he’s able to personally check up on farms. The Bouqs works with farms that have received industry certifications related to issues such as environmental responsibility and human rights.
“We’re really taking all the pain out of what should be a very fun and sentimental and emotional experience,” Tabis said.
With companies like Bonobos, Trunk Club and the Dollar Shave Club targeting a growing demographic of young, mostly male, consumers that are interested in bespoke lifestyle products using newer Internet-powered distribution methods, The Bouqs should fit right in. Tabis also noted that the company takes inspiration from the visual nature of companies like Pinterest and Etsy.
With a little luck and some sunshine, The Bouq is set to turn this seed investment into a bumper crop.
Image credit: iStockphoto