The Flower Delivery Apps Flourishing this Valentines Day
Valentine's Day is just around the corner and these flower delivery services are readying for the holiday rush. Americans order over 250 million roses for Valentine's Day, according to the Society of American Florists, and this year — with more staying at home — online delivery sales are poised to grow.
"Because of the pandemic, there is a definite downward trend in face-to-face [dates] and that sort of thing," said Steve Dionne, executive director of California Association of Flower Growers and Shippers. "And it appears, as we get close to the holiday, our predictions have [been] borne out that it's definitely creating a surge in demand. The industry as a whole is expecting a very, very strong Valentine's Day, from the standpoint of consumer demand."
The proliferation of flower delivery apps, some who rely on imported flowers, has reconfigured the industry for many, but he added, it has created more distribution channels for local growers.
"The internet sellers are disruptors in the industry," he said. "But if at the end of the day that results in a positive consumer experience and more access to the product, then it's a net gain for the whole industry."
Only Mother's Day surpasses Valentine's Day in flower orders, said Farbod Shoraka, chief executive of BloomNation, but because moms are more flexible when it comes to the exact date, deliveries for Mother's Day are often distributed over the course of a week. This makes it easier for florists to arrange bouquets and coordinate deliveries while still using the freshest flowers. Valentine's Day, however, can be a challenge for florists.
"[There is] really high pressure around delivering on that special day of Valentine's," said Shoraka. "And so you go from a florist handling, maybe, you know, 10 orders a day, 15 orders a day, if you're a larger shop, they might do 20 or 30 orders, [but on Valentine's Day] it's all of a sudden, 100 or 200 or 300 in a single day."
The Marina del Rey service has a large selection of Valentine's Day arrangements, all within the $39 to $69 range and all made with flowers sourced from local farmers. Because of the spike in sales near the holiday, orders must be placed by February 11th. The company also offers a subscription service for weekly, biweekly, monthly or bimonthly arrangement deliveries. Subscribers also receive free shipping and a 30% discount on their orders.
The Bouqs Co. started as a Shark Tank pitch in 2014 by John Tabis and Juan Pablo Montufar. They left without a deal, but went on to pursue their idea: an online flower shop that was farm to table, without buyers in between. They have a "curated" group of local florists that complete the arrangements offered on their website, allowing for same day delivery in some cities.
Shark Tank judge Robert Herjavec remembered the company three years later, when he was buying wedding flower arrangements and was shocked at their steep prices. Herjavec became an investor in the company, which has raised $74 million to date.
BloomNation is an online platform for local florists. It has over 3,000 florists in its network, and offers a much wider array of arrangements than The Bouqs and Teleflora. Local florists create their own bouquets. The company does not coordinate delivery for the florists, but CEO Farbod Shoraka said it will soon announce a partnership with Mountain View-based robot delivery company Tortoise, for contactless robot delivery. Some Los Angeles florists on the platform include Huntington Flowers, Dolce Fiori, JNJ Florals and LA Floral Designs.
BloomNation got its start, in part, thanks to a poker championship.
Co-founders Shoraka and Gregg Weisstein saw that local florists were struggling to get themselves online without relying on big flower brokers like 1-800-Flowers. They added to their team World Series of Poker champion David Daneshgar, who raised a big portion of their seed round funding after entering a poker tournament in Los Angeles and winning $30,000.
BloomNation prides itself on promoting local florists' creativity and autonomy. They do not dictate the arrangements or pricing; florists choose what they post and sell on their websites.
Teleflora offers same-day delivery on a wide range of set bouquets arranged by local florists. The company has a network of over 10,000 member florists in North America and 20,000 affiliated florists internationally.
Founded in Los Angeles in 1934, Teleflora is one of the oldest flower delivery services, its original name being Telegraph Delivery Service. The company is privately owned, and its current president and chief executive is Jeff Bennett.
Teleflora's member florists fill local orders that are placed through Teleflora's website. The startup doesn't handle flower sourcing or delivery for its florists, but it provides the arrangement designs they should follow and the website customers order from. One of the company's key appeals is that it never delivers flowers in a box — every arrangement is hand delivered by the local florist.
UrbanStems began as a bike courier service, delivering arrangements of flowers from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms to the Washington D.C. area. Now they've expanded to shipping their arrangements, plants and gift boxes to all 50 states, with prices starting at $48.
The company has raised $32 million to date, and recently announced a partnership with Kate Hudson's King St. Vodka to offer the "love fern," a nod to her role in the movie "How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days."
Headquartered in San Francisco, Farmgirl Flowers offers flower shipments to the continental United States, sourcing all flowers from local farmers. Arrangements range from $45 to $250, with specific flowers varying with the seasons.
Their bouquets are seasonal — the photos on their site don't represent exactly the bouquet customers receive, and the exact blooms are dependent on what farmers have available. Founder and chief executive Christina Stembel wanted to step away from imported flowers and support American growers, she told The New York Times, and launched Farmgirl flowers from her living room in 2010.
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Though Silicon Valley is still very much the capital of venture capital, Los Angeles is home to plenty of VCs who have made their mark – investing in successful startups early and reaping colossal returns for their limited partners.
Who stands out? We thought there may be no better judge than their peers, so we asked 28 of L.A.'s top VCs who impresses them the most.
Mark Mullen, Bonfire Ventures<p>Mark Mullen is a founding partner of Bonfire Ventures. He is also founder and the largest investor in Mull Capital and Double M Partners, LP I and II. A common theme in these funds is a focus on business-to-business media and communications infrastructures.</p><p>In the past, Mullen has served as the chief operating officer at the city of Los Angeles' Economic Office and a senior advisor to former Mayor Villaraigosa, overseeing several of the city's assets including Los Angeles International Airport and the Los Angeles Convention Center. Prior to that, he was a partner at Daniels & Associates, a senior banker when the firm sold to RBC Capital Markets in 2007.</p>
Dana Settle, Greycroft<p>Dana Settle is a founding partner of Greycroft, heading the West Coast office in Los Angeles. She currently manages the firm's stakes in Anine Bing, AppAnnie, Bird, Clique, Comparably, Goop, Happiest Baby, Seed, Thrive Market, Versed and WideOrbit, and is known for backing female-founded companies.</p><p>"The real change takes place when female founders build bigger, independent companies, like Stitchfix, TheRealReal," she said this time last year in <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/greycrofts-dana-settle-on-closing-funding-gap-for-female-founders-2019-12" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an interview with Business Insider</a>. "They're creating more wealth across their cap tables and the cap tables tend to be more diverse, so that gives more people opportunity to become an angel investor." Prior to founding Greycroft, she was a venture capitalist and startup advisor in the Bay Area.</p>
Erik Rannala, Mucker Capital<p>Erik Rannala is a founding partner at Mucker Capital, which he created with William Hsu in 2011. Before founding Mucker, Rannala was vice president of global product strategy and development at TripAdvisor and a group manager at eBay, overseeing its premium features business.</p><p>"As an investor, I root for startups. It pains me to see great teams and ideas collapse under the pressure that sometimes follows fundraising. If you've raised money and you're not sure what comes next, that's fine – I don't always know either," Rannala wrote in <a href="https://www.mucker.com/more-funding-wont-magically-fix-your-startup/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a blog post for Mucker</a>. </p><p>Mucker has a portfolio of 61 companies, including Los Angeles-based Honey and Santa Monica-based HMBradley.</p>
William Hsu, Mucker Capital<p>William Hsu is a founding partner at the Santa Monica-based fund Mucker Capital. He started his career as a founder, creating BuildPoint, a provider of workflow management solutions for the commercial construction industry not long after graduating from Stanford. </p> <p><a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/3048173/the-unexpected-and-hard-earned-lessons-from-a-dot-com-flame-out" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In an interview with Fast Company</a>, he shared what he learned in the years following, as he led product teams at eBay, Green Dot and Spot Runner, eventually becoming the SVP and Chief Product Officer of At&T Interactive: "Building a company is about hiring correctly, adhering to a timeline, and rigorously valuing opportunity. It's turning something from inspiration and creative movement into process and rigor."</p> <p>These are the values he looks for in founders in addition to creativity. "I like to see the possibility of each and every idea, and being imaginative makes me a passionate investor."</p>
Jim Andelman, Bonfire Ventures<p>Jim Andelman is a founding partner of Bonfire Ventures, a fund that focuses on seed rounds for business software founders. Andelman has been in venture capital for 20 years, previously founding Rincon Venture Partners and leading software investing at Broadview Capital Partners.<br><br>He's no stranger to enterprise software — he also was a member of the Technology Investment Banking Group at Alex. Brown & Sons and worked at Symmetrix, a consulting firm focusing on technology application for businesses.</p> <p><a href="https://dot.la/la-venture-podcast-jim-andelman-of-bonfire-ventures-2648143780.html" target="_self">In a podcast with LA Venture's Minnie Ingersoll</a> earlier this year, he spoke on the hesitations people have about choosing to start a company.</p>"It's two very different things: Should I coach someone to be a VC or should I coach someone to enter the startup ecosystem? On the latter question, my answer is 'hell yeah!'"
Josh Diamond, Walkabout Ventures<p>Josh Diamond founded Walkabout Ventures, a seed fund that primarily focuses on financial service startups. The firm raised a $10 million fund in 2019 and is preparing for its second fund. Among its 19 portfolio companies is HMBradley, which Diamond helped seed and recently <a href="https://dot.la/hm-bradley-2649022900.html" target="_self">raised $18 in a Series A</a> round.</p><p>"The whole reason I started this is that I saw there was a gap in the funding for early stage, financial service startups," he said. As consumers demand more digital access and transparency, he said the market for financial services is transforming — and Los Angeles is quickly becoming a hub for fintech companies. Before founding Walkabout, he was a principal for Clocktower Technology Ventures, another Los Angeles-based fund with a similar focus.</p>
Kara Nortman, Upfront Ventures<p>Kara Nortman was recently promoted to managing partner at Upfront Ventures, making her one of the few women – along with Settle – to ascend to the highest ranks of a major VC firm.</p><p>Though<a href="https://upfront.com/thoughts/announcing-upfronts-new-co-managing-partner" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Upfront had attempted to recruit her</a> before she joined in 2014, she had declined in order to start her own company, Moonfrye, a children's ecommerce company that rebranded to P.S. XO and merged with Seedling. Upfront invested in the combination, and shortly after, Nortman joined the Upfront team.</p><p>Before founding Moonfrye, she was the SVP and General Manager of Urbanspoon and Citysearch at IAC after co-heading IAC's M&A group.</p><p><a href="https://dot.la/moving-from-the-passenger-seat-to-the-drivers-seat-upfronts-kara-nortman-named-managing-partner-2648493740.html" target="_self">In an interview with dot.LA earlier this year</a>, she spoke on how a focus for her as a VC is to continue to open doors for founders and funders of diverse backgrounds.<br></p><p>"Once you're a woman or a person of color in a VC firm, it is making sure other talented people like you get hired, but also hiring people who are not totally like you. You have to make room for different kinds of people. And how do you empower those people?"<br></p>
Brett Brewer, Crosscut Ventures<p>Brett Brewer is a co-founder and managing director of Crosscut Ventures. He has a long history in entrepreneurship, starting a "pencil selling business in 4th grade." In 1998, he co-founded Intermix Media. Under their umbrella were online businesses like Myspace.com and Skilljam.com. After selling Intermix in 2005, he became president of Adknowledge.com.</p><p>Brewer founded Santa Monica-based Crosscut in 2008 alongside Rick Smith and Brian Garrett. His advice to founders <a href="https://crosscut.vc/team/" target="_blank">on Crosscut's website</a> reflects his experience: "Founders have to be prepared to pivot, restart, expect the unexpected, and make tough choices quickly... all in the same week! It's not for the faint of heart, but after doing this for 20 years, you can spot the fire (and desire) from a mile away (or not)."</p>
Eva Ho, Fika Ventures<p>Eva Ho is a founding partner of Fika Ventures, a boutique seed fund, which focuses on data and artificial intelligence-enabled technologies. Prior to founding Fika, she was a founding partner at San Francisco-based Susa Ventures, another seed-stage fund with a similar focus. She is also a serial entrepreneur, most recently co-founding an L.A. location data provider, Factual. She also co-founded Navigating Cancer, a health startup, and is a founding member of All Raise, a nonprofit that supports and provides resources to female founders and funders.</p><p><a href="https://medium.com/@John_Livesay/when-google-bought-my-startup-81f1ee21488c" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In an interview with John Livesay</a> shortly before founding Fika, Ho spoke to how her experience at Factual helped focus what she looks for in founders. "I always look for the why. A lot of people have the skills and the confidence and the experience, but they can't convince me that they're truly passionate about this. That's the hard part — you can't fake passion."</p>
Brian Lee, BAM Ventures<p>Brian Lee is a co-founder and managing director of BAM Ventures, an early-stage consumer-focused fund. <a href="https://dot.la/brian-lee-los-angeles-venture-capital-2645125301.html" target="_self">In an interview with dot.LA earlier this year</a>, Lee shared that he ended up being the first investor in Honey, which was bought by PayPal for $4 billion, through investing in founders and understanding their "vibe."</p> <p>"There's certain criteria that we look for in founders, a proprietary kind of checklist that we go through to determine whether or not these are the founders that we want to back…. [Honey's founders] knew exactly what they were building, and how they were going to get there."</p> <p>His eye for the right vibe in a founder is one gleaned from experience. Lee is a serial entrepreneur, founding LegalZoom.com, ShoeDazzle.com and The Honest Company.</p>
Alex Rubalcava, Stage Venture Partners<p>Alex Rubalcava is a founding partner of Stage Venture Partners, a seed venture capital firm that invests in emerging software technology for B2B markets. Prior to joining, he was an analyst at Santa Monica-based Anthem Venture Partners, an investor in early stage technology companies. It was his first job after graduating from Harvard, and during his time at Anthem the fund was part of Series A in companies like MySpace, TrueCar and Android.</p><p>He has served as a board member in several Los Angeles nonprofits and organizations like KIPP LA Schools and South Central Scholars.</p> <p>"Warren Buffett says that he's a better businessman because he's an investor, and he's a better investor because he's a businessman. I feel the same way about VC and value investing. Being good at value investing can make you good at venture capital, and vice versa," Rubalcava said in <a href="https://moiglobal.com/alex-rubalcava-interview/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an interview with Shai Dardashti of MOI Global</a>.</p>
Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures<p>Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, is arguably L.A.'s most visible VC, frequently posting on Twitter and on his <a href="https://bothsidesofthetable.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">blog</a>, not only about investing but also more personal topics like weight loss. In more normal years, he presides over LA's biggest gathering of tech titans, the Upfront Summit. Before Upfront, he was the founder and chief executive officer of two software companies, BuildOnline and Koral, which was acquired by Salesforce. Upfront backed both of his companies, and eventually he joined their team in 2007.</p><p>In a piece for his blog, "Both Sides of the Table," <a href="https://bothsidesofthetable.com/finding-an-investor-who-is-in-love-with-you-d0badf1a3998" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Suster wrote about the importance of passion</a> — not just for entrepreneurs and their businesses, but for the VCs that fund them as well.<br></p><p>"On reflection of the role that I want to play as a VC it is clearly in the camp of passion. I really want to start my journeys only with people with whom I want to work closely with for the next 5–7 years or more. I only want to work on projects in which I believe can produce truly amazing change in an industry or in the world."</p>
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