Imagine you’re an ecommerce manager by day but a poker whizz-kid by night; the chances are that if you won an event at the World Series of Poker, flowers wouldn’t be the first thing on your mind. But they were on poker aficionado David Daneshgar’s mind when he won a WSP even in 2008. Maybe our daydreaming e‑commerce manager might wish to think again: Daneshgar and his two buddies, Farbod Shoraka and Gregg Weisstein, used the $27,000 winnings to launch a new online florist marketplace.
A blossoming marketplace
Born in 2011, BloomNation is on course to grow into the Etsy of the flower industry and is embarking this month on an ambitious new expansion. New York City is amongst the new locations the LA-based company is recruiting local artisan florists, while others include Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia (it’s already had successful launches in Las Vegas and Chicago).
Perspicuous e‑commerce analysts will be aware that local artisans have energized online food and craft markets recently. Daneshgar, Shoraka and Weisstein (who met at college) are tapping their talents for the flower-sending market. And they’re succeeding: BloomNation won the University of Chicago School of Business’ New Venture Challenge in 2012 and it raised $1.65 million in venture capital last fall in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
The marketplace now delivers to 3,000 cities and hosts 2,500 florists – and counting, with the new expansion initiative. It broke the $1 million barrier in sales earlier this year and has been growing at a rate of 20 to 30 percent every month.
Tapping artisan talent and keeping it happy
When the trio of founders began introducing their idea to local florists in 2011, they found an unhappy bunch of people paying painful membership fees to vendor networks of national wire services, which took cuts as high as 50 percent from each order. And they didn’t like having their natural creativity rigidly subordinated to producing stock catalogue bouquets.
BloomNation’s alternative? Artisans have the freedom to produce what they love producing and they can advertise and sell their hand-crafted creations – with their own personal online storefront on the easy-to-use platform. And they don’t get walloped with membership fees and stinging vendor charges: BloomNation takes just 10 percent from each sale. Participating Artisans love it.
This startup is going places. Literally.