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Blooms, Beyond Valentine’s Day

Flower Power

Why you should care

Because being able to send good-looking flowers this fast just might someday save your ass.

No more gaudy glass vase arrangements; BloomThat promises truly beautiful flowers that are affordable — and here’s the brilliant part: delivered last minute.

It began with three dudes trying to keep their girlfriends happy.

David Bladow, Matthew Schwab and Chad Powell, friends since college, knew they weren’t the kind of guys who’d remember their anniversary, much less order flowers ahead of time. So they didn’t even try.

Instead, last summer they launched BloomThat, a San Francisco-based flower service for forgetful types — with impeccable taste.

The existing big players’ product is outdated. It was built off of my parent’s generation.

The company offers bundles of fresh-cut flowers in stylish burlap wraps or tucked into corrugated tin containers delivered by bike with handwritten cards — in about 90 minutes. The best part? Prices start at $20 a pop.

This week, the Y Combinator startup debuted a new mobile app for the iPhone and expanded service into Silicon Valley — a rollout that will expand to more locations in the coming months, thanks to $2 million in seed funding from Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s A-Grade Investments, SV Angel, Joe Montana, Gary Vaynerchuk and Alexis Ohanihan among others.

Ashton headshot in tuxedo on red backdrop

Ashton Kutcher

Source: David Shankbone

Alexis speaking in suit and tie at microphone outdoors

Alexis Ohanian

Joe Montana headshot turning left of frame smiling

Joe Montana

Source: Corbis

“Our goal is to make sending flowers so easy and accessible that you can do it in a couple of clicks from your phone,” says Bladow, who worked in restaurant and real estate development before co-founding the company with fellow University of Colorado alums Schwab, a former advertising executive, and Powell, previously in e-commerce for Bloomspot.

How can it be so speedy? Instead of dispatching couriers when orders are ready, BloomThat notifies them as orders are placed. The result is flowers in about the same amount of time it would take you to personally visit a local flower shop, choose a custom arrangement and take it to your loved one — all without having to leave your house.

“The thing that we’ve seen thus far about the existing big players is the product is outdated,” Bladow says. “It was built off of my parent’s generation.”

They’d like to knock down the walls that keep flowers cordoned off in Valentine’s Day, Anniversary and Sorry I’m Such a Dipshit territory.

BloomThat aims to attract customers not only with its high-tech gloss but also with an aesthetic Bladow describes as “garden-whimsical. Sort of.” The peach-hued tulips and greenery of the Pixley, a best-seller, are a plucky display that would make the perfect casual gift for a co-worker but wouldn’t be out of line as a “just because I love you” surprise. The one-hued palette of the Linden, currently an elegant white, could be a housewarming gift for the design-obsessed friend who just moved to town as easily as it might say “Happy Anniversary!” Or “Thanks for watching my neurotic dog!” Or for helping my kid even as he wailed like the guy during the behavioral-modification experiment scene from A Clockwork Orange for the duration of his first dentist appointment.

Flowers on table top wrapped in burlap

The Pixley

Yes, they’ve actually had someone send a bouquet to a children’s dentist for that exact reason. And, no, it wasn’t me.

But it might be soon, now that I know I can send one from my iPhone. Bladow and his team — not surprisingly — would like to knock down the walls that keep flowers cordoned off in Valentine’s Day, Anniversary and Sorry I’m Such a Dipshit territory. And so far, they’re succeeding: 55 percent of BloomThat customers are not the in-the-doghouse dudes for which the company was first conceived, but for women.

“We thought we were solving our own pain point here: We never order ahead, it’s our anniversary, and we forgot … but what our customers are telling us is, it’s not ‘Oh, I forgot,’” but more like, Hey, I just feel like sending flowers. “People are thinking about it differently,” he says.

As for Bladow himself, coming up with flowers for his wife is no longer a problem he panics over at the last minute. New skills have come with the job.

“I can make a mean bouquet. I’ve taken to the floral-arranging side of my personality that I didn’t know existed,” he says. “You’re probably going to quote me on that and I’ll feel like a total idiot.”

Yup, quoted! Sorry. I think I’ll send him some flowers.

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