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Y Combinator’s BloomThat takes a tech-savvy approach to sending flowers

Above: BloomThat's cofounders Matthew Schwab, David Bladow, and Chad Powell.

Image Credit: BloomThat

Flowers aren’t just about looking pretty. Americans spend $27.8 billion a year buying flowers, and BloomThat is trying to change the way they do it.

This Y Combinator-backed startup has raised a $2 million seed round from a bouquet of well-known angel investors and launched a free mobile app.

BloomThat is basically a flower-delivery service. Every day, it features around eight fresh bouquets with flowers from local growers. You pick a bouquet and enter your recipients’ zip code and the date/time you want them sent. BloomThat’s bicycle messenger will deliver them at the appointed time.

The startup also offers same-day delivery and promises to deliver the burlap-wrapped flowers within 90 minutes.

“We want people to think differently about flowers,” cofounder Matthew Schwab told VentureBeat. “Sending flowers should be fun and easy! It doesn’t just have to be about birthdays or anniversaries. People can treat their friends and loved ones to something fun without requiring a special occasion to do so if you make it easier for them.”

131121 BloomThatLife106Schwab said that the current options for ordering flowers online are inconvenient and many florists still require you to, gasp, pick up the phone. BloomThat aims to cut as many steps as possible out of the process. The goal is to inspire people to order flowers more often.

“On average people send flowers 2.2 times per year using traditional flower services,” Schwab said. “In less than a year, we’re seeing people send flowers on BloomThat three times [more] compared to the industry average. Reasons for sending flowers with BloomThat include everything from congratulating a coworker on their promotion, thanking a friend for hosting a delicious dinner party, or just because it’s a foggy day in San Francisco.”

Older services like 1-800-Flowers assault you with an overwhelming array of options, and most of them are pretty tacky. The flowers can also be of questionable quality and are pricey to boot.

BloomThat said the industry has been like this for years — dominated by a few large companies — and that it wants to provide a more modern, compelling alternative.

The company’s appeal to consumers is fewer choices, higher quality, and a reasonable price. It limits the number of bouquets, orders the flowers in bulk, the bouquets cost between $35 and $65. Delivery is free.

I have used 1-800 Flowers and BloomThat, and the experience of the latter from start-to-finish is definitely better. The only problem is that the service is only available in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Menlo Park, and Sunnyvale at the moment, although BloomThat has plans to roll out in new metropolitan areas this spring.

Flowers may seem like an odd or small market for a tech startup to take on. It also involves working with a physical, delicate, perishable product; building a network of local producers and a supply chain; and same-day delivery. These are generally big, glaring stop signs for investors — and challenges that have felled larger and more experienced companies.

Interestingly, BloomThat is not the only young startup planting its seed in this garden. BloomNation is a venture-backed marketplace for florists and floral designers. Its approach is a little different from BloomThat — it aims to connect local florists directly with consumers — but the goal of disrupting the flower industry is the same.

BloomThat will be helped on its quest by an impressive array of investors, including SV Angel, Ashton Kutcher, A-Grade Investments, Joe Montana, Alexis Ohanian, Gary Tan, and others.

More information:

BloomThat (YC S13) is simply the easiest way to send fresh flowers. Focused on a curated selection of beautiful arrangements, BloomThat delivers flowers on demand anywhere in San Francisco and Palo Alto, within 90 minutes. Flowers sta... read more »

BloomNation is the Etsy.com for Flowers. Consumers can find unique designs offered by top rated florist right in their delivery area. No need to scourer the internet or use an expensive marketing site. Shop direct with any local floris... read more »

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