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BloomNation seeks to help florists grow by creating a new marketplace.

Salt Lake City -- A new California-based startup is trying to disrupt the floral industry by giving local florists a more direct way to reach customers online. The company, BLOOMNATION, claims big wire-companies like 1-800-Flowers aren't a good thing for local florists.

Wire companies--FTD Florists, Teleflora, 1-800-Flowers--put up stock images of bouquets on their website, gathering orders and sending them off to local florists. They act as a middle man, obscuring the line of communication between the consumer and the florist, and taking anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of the bouquet price for doing so. Then, because there's no direct line of communication from florist to customer, florists can't say so if they're out of red roses or baby's breath. They also can't tell their customers if they have plenty of lilies, ranunculus, peonies or orchids left over, or could make them something much more attractive than that stock-image bouquet.

"The other big wire services, they make these pictures that are all one-sided, or they do them with stems that are the most full, whereas sometimes we don't get those stems ... They're just a little unrealistic. The wire companies also set a price that we can't really do them for," says Shaylynn Hutchings of TIMP VALLEY FLORAL, a third-generation company located in American Fork. "The other wire companies take 20-30 percent of every order. Plus, you're paying really about $1,400 a month for all of their technology support, membership fees--by the end of it, if you actually add it up, you're really losing money by being members with them."

BloomNation thinks it has the solution to this. Founded in 2011, BloomNation is trying to do for florists what Etsy did for crafters: create a marketplace where consumers and artists can communicate, where buying flowers can become a personal experience once more.

"Flowers are a sentiment of who you are," says David Daneshgar, cofounder and head of sales and business development for BloomNation. "You need a local artisan to hand-deliver it."

BloomNation started after one of the co-founder's aunts came to Daneshgar with the idea to help florists cut ties with the big wire-companies. Daneshgar, then a professional poker player, won the World Series of Poker and decided to put $30,000 worth of winnings into the startup. From there, it was a lot of risk-taking and trial-and-error.

"People told us florists would never come together, that they were too competitive," says Daneshgar. But he and his co-founders believed that competition or not, florists were sick of wire companies and would be happy to come together if it meant having another option.

BloomNation's platform allows florists to create a digital storefront. The florist can take pictures of their own pieces--or they can use a professional photographer from BloomNation--and put them up on the site, along with the price for the piece, delivery, and possible delivery dates. If they run out of flowers or get sick of the arrangement, they can take it down. They can even send their customers pictures of their finished arrangements before they go out, to show that they are indeed getting what they ordered.

The platform, which is based in California but was recently in Salt Lake City to recruit local florists, is integrated with Yelp and Facebook and through each florist's website, allowing the customer to order from wherever they originally find the florist.

And if one of the high-demand holidays rolls around--like Valentine's Day--the website allows florists to put a percentage markup on their arrangements between whatever dates they choose or run promotions from any date range they'd like, all with a few simple clicks.

"Florists don't have to be tech-savvy. It's as easy to use as Facebook," says Danesghar.

BloomNation takes 10 percent of the florist's earnings as payment for its platform. Already, some 3,000 florists have a digital storefront on BloomNation. That, on top of the ability to actually get to show off their creativity, seems to appeal to local florists.

"[With wire-companies], you get this order in that gives you an exact recipe to follow and there's no creativity. You can't do anything different with it, because the customer has already seen it online somewhere. You can't create something for your customer," says Hutchings. "It is nice with BloomNation to create something and put it on your site ... [At Timp Valley Floral] we put our heart and soul into what we make."
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Title Annotation:Around Utah
Comment:BloomNation seeks to help florists grow by creating a new marketplace.(Around Utah)
Author:Biton, Adva
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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