February 12, 2014
UrbanStems is a DC-based startup that is bringing on-demand delivery to flowers. I had the opportunity to ask the founders some questions on the eve of their launch.
Tech Cocktail: What was your inspiration for UrbanStems? What problem are you trying to solve?
UrbanStems: The original idea for UrbanStems came about when Ajay was in a long-distance relationship and – dutiful boyfriend that he was – often sent flowers for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, or just because. He tried all of the major outlets, but always ended up frustrated with the high prices, confusing choices, unreliable delivery, and often underwhelming quality of the bouquets. One Valentine’s Day, after several hours spent in customer service hell, one miffed girlfriend, and one severely beat-up-looking flower arrangement, he and Jeff decided to try and figure out why sending flowers was such an awful experience.
What we found was an industry that’s been operating in largely the same way for 100 years: aggregators take orders either in stores, on the phone or online, and then send them to local flower shops to recreate those arrangements and deliver them. By using new technologies and a carefully curated selection of the freshest flowers, we’ve designed UrbanStems to address each of these issues. Our process is simple: just pick one of our three beautifully hand-crafted bouquets, enter the recipient’s name, address and a short note, and we’ll have them in your loved one’s hands within an hour or two – all for $35, which includes delivery and all fees. We’ll also text you a photo of the bouquet to confirm its safe arrival.
Our ultimate hope is to make sending flowers an everyday thing. Over the past few months, we’ve seen first-hand how unexpected flowers can change someone’s day or even week for the better.
TC: What’s unique and/or beneficial about starting up in DC?
UrbanStems: The people here. Period, end of statement. Since we decided to start a company here, we’ve been overwhelmed by the incredible generosity and willingness to help of the DC tech and startup communities. Not only did we round out our team with amazing people we met at local start-up events, but we have built everything with the support and advice of the incredibly talented members of Fosterly, DC Nightowls, and other groups around town. Maybe people are this nice in the more traditional startup hubs, but we honestly can’t imagine a community that’s more supportive.
TC: Who are your competitors and what sets UrbanStems apart from similar services?
UrbanStems: There are two answers to this: first, we feel that our real competitors are the large Goliaths of this space that drove us to create UrbanStems. We want to make sending flowers fun again, and by lowering the cost, increasing transparency, and making it an ‘on demand’ service, we think we can accomplish that.
There are also a few other startups, mostly out West, that are doing similar things. Each of those companies is bringing their own awesome innovations to the space, and we really view them as co-conspirators in helping us change how flowers are ordered and delivered.
TC: Do you see the business expanding beyond just flowers? What do you see in the future for UrbanStems?
UrbanStems: Absolutely. We want to change the way we think about gifting in general. We increasingly live in an ‘on demand’ world where we can get rides, food, even laundry done for ourselves at the touch of an app. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we can make giving that easy and accessible, too? We see all kinds of other things to make people’s day in our future, and we’ll go after anything that brings a smile to your friend’s and loved one’s faces!
Right now, UrbanStems is offering Tech Cocktail readers a $5.00 discount off their first purchase by using the code: TechCocktail5. UrbanStems currently has three lovely bouquets available for Valentine’s Day (or any day) delivery.
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