Last week, LA-based online flower delivery service The Bouqs Company raised $6m in Series A financing (read here). CEO and Founder John Tabis answered our questions about the company, the service, the team, the funding and future plans.
FinSMEs: Hi John. First, can you tell us a little bit more about you? What’s your background?
John: My career has been a combination of creative and strategic since the beginning. At Bain & Company I worked on core brand strategy and consumer growth cases, which led me to working in Advertising with Gerber Baby as my core client. From there I studied on Fellowship at UCLA Anderson with a focus on marketing, and post-B-School I worked at Disney in the Corporate Brand Development group (think internal strategy consulting with a sole focus on brand and consumer). After 6 years at Disney I moved to the VC-backed startup world where I worked as VP of Brand & Strategy at ShoeDazzle.com before launching Bouqs.
FinSMEs: Let’s speak about The Bouqs Company. What’s the opportunity you found in the market?
John: This industry is very much stuck in Web 1.0, where DR and Catalog are the foundation. There’s little focus on innovation, customer experience, or brand. We looked at the industry and saw that some of the paint points of the farms and the final consumer could be remedied through technology, so we set out to apply tech to fix those problems. As a result we have a model that’s better for both the producer (growers) and consumers (individuals and small businesses). It’s a great win for us but also for the most important constituents in the industry.
FinSMEs: How does The Bouqs Company work? Tell me something about the features…
John: We have established an international network of farms and our technology connects those farms directly to the end consumer. In this way we provide better economics for the farm, and more/fresher product for the end buyer for the same dollar, resulting in much better value and therefore brand loyalty. On our site we merchandise all-in pricing with no hidden fees or upsells, which is atypical in the industry. We charge $40 flat with free shipping from our international farms, and $50 flat with free Next Day Delivery from our domestic farms in California. Clients can choose to order once or to set up a Concierge Subscription – these are pre-scheduled deliveries that auto-deliver, and feature the same free shipping with discounts up to 25% off. There are three types:
1) Never Forget – this allows you to pre-schedule all of your important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) and we’ll deliver for those dates automatically.
2) Just Because – this is randomized delivery, surprise flowers for no reason!
3) Regular Blooms – regularly scheduled deliveries can be customized to your schedule, whether weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or at whatever interval works best for you.
FinSMEs: Can you introduce me the other team members?
John: JP Montufar is my co-Founder and COO of the company. JP grew up on a rose farm in South America and is the heart of our unique, high quality, and hyper-efficient supply chain. JP lives, and loves, flowers and this business is literally impossible without the supply chain he developed prior to our partnering to launch The Bouqs Company. David Plafchan is our Creative Director. Dave has over a decade of experience producing amazing content and advertising for some of the best agencies and brands in the world. Leonard Lin runs tech and operations for us. Leonard literally built our site, front-end and back-end, himself and from scratch. We have an amazing team with experts in tech, marketing, and operations, and we’ll be growing soon!
FinSMEs: Where are you now in terms of growth? Some numbers? (revenue, employees, customers, users, etc.)
John: While we do not share performance metrics publicly we are currently 8 full time employees and we expect to be 16-20 within a year.
FinSMEs: You just raised funding. What can you tell me about the investors? How are you using the funds?
John: Our A Round will be used to support growth across the business in team and tech. We need to grow our team to keep up with current demand and to fuel future growth. We’ll also continue to invest in both front-end and back-end tech to ensure a seamless and sticky experience for both consumers and our farms.
Our round was led by Azure Capital Partners, a top tier Venture Capital fund out of San Francisco. Azure has an amazing track record and great DNA in vertically-integrated and disruptive consumer businesses. We are fortunate to have found an investor that aligns with our strategic vision but also has experience scaling similarly-positioned companies. KEC ventures also participated in the round, along with existing investors
including Quest Venture Partners, Siemer Ventures, SG-VC, and angels like Mich Mathews (former CMO of MSFT) and Dennis Phelps (IVP).
John: We plan to optimize and improve upon our current shopping experience through better UX, mobile integration, and an expanded farm network. We also anticipate launching Canada later this year, and globally in 2016.
FinSMEs: you are based in The Los Angeles Areaa growing startup ecosystem. What can you tell me about it? Exciting?
John: This is an amazing time to start up a company in LA. The foundation for building a company in the city has never been better, with more and better investors, angels, accelerators (like our amazing partners Amplify.LA) and talent available than ever before. It’s been very exciting to see the rapid change occurring here in just the last few years, and the recent string of larger exits bode well for the continued health and growth of the community.