How online marketplace BloomNation is helping to elevate the craftsmanship of local florists

by Garrett Reim
September 10, 2014
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Flower delivery has been done before. In fact, a lot of companies do it like 1-800-Flowers, FTD Inc. and Teleflora. That someone thinks the flower market is ready to bloom all over again might seem a bit odd. But that is exactly what Farbod Shoraka, CEO of BloomNation believes. And he’s got some pretty impressive backers like Andreessen Horowitz, Chicago Ventures, Crunchfund and MuckerLab, who believe it too.
 
“We are a marketplace that allows buyers and sellers of flowers to connect directly,” said Shoraka. “On one hand we have the top flower designers in the country. And on the consumer end you can simply type in a zip code and find all those florists.”  The concept seems simple enough. But what makes it different from all those incumbent businesses?
 
Well to start, “Sending flowers online just sucked, it was a really bad experience,” said Shoraka. “When you go on those sites those pictures are almost like a stock image.” Those sites source their flowers from local florists and force them to conform to certain arrangements of flowers. Those arrangements don’t always arrive as pretty as they are advertised.
 
Secondly, “50 percent of the money is taken in brokerage fees before it goes to the florist,” said Shoraka. Which means florists have less incentive to perform their art well and more incentive to conform to minimum standards. In Shoraka’s mind the value of such large flower delivery operations is little more than lead generation marketing.
 
BloomNation however sees itself as more of a marketplace than a marketing platform. To that point, the company focuses on providing services to florists.  BloomNation’s platform alerts florists to arrangements most in demand, like a dozen roses, and gives florists insight on what the average price point is for certain arrangements.
 
“Once they signup for BloomNation they get access to a suite of tools. They get access to email marketing campaigns, consumer management and see upcoming holidays,” said Shoraka. “We believe in small business and BloomNation is here to help out the small guys help them succeed.”
 

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BloomNation is part of a larger movement of small business focused software companies in Los Angeles, including Lettuce, small business backend software management platform, Docstoc, a small business documentation resource, and Magento a turnkey ecommerce platform. These software companies and BloomNation are empowering small business creativity like never before.
 
“We want to bring the creativity out vs. a McDonalds like approach of the same thing everywhere,” said Shoraka. By empowering florists with its technology BloomNation is also empowering a renaissance of craftsmanship. The value-add of a BloomNation listed florist is the uniqueness of the arrangements offered, and the personality that comes out of each handcrafted arrangement. 
 
“For a while there was this whole push for automation and efficiency and low costs, but that went too far but now technology is bring that back into equilibrium,” said Shoraka. “Technology is bringing back community and connecting people. You now have choice and the ability to connect with someone making something handcrafted. We are now riding the phenomena of people handcrafting and going back to the old days.”
 
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