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Zinnia makes buying flowers online easy and affordable

“We want to be the Chipotle of the flower-buying industry,” said Nathan Bliss, Co-founder of Zinnia. Bliss explained that people usually buy flowers one of two ways in places like Omaha. There are relatively low-quality grocery store flowers (the Taco Bell of flowers) and there are overpriced online retailers (the Kobe Steakhouse of flowers). “We want to be somewhere in the middle….

ZINNIA

“We want to be the Chipotle of the flower-buying industry,” said Nathan Bliss, Co-founder of Zinnia.

Bliss explained that people usually buy flowers one of two ways in places like Omaha. There are relatively low-quality grocery store flowers (the Taco Bell of flowers) and there are overpriced online retailers (the Kobe Steakhouse of flowers).

“We want to be somewhere in the middle. We focus on high-quality arrangements at an affordable price, all while utilizing technology and social media to make ordering flowers focused on the customer experience,” said Bliss.

Food analogies aside, Zinnia flower orders are received through their website, put together locally and are available for next day delivery to anywhere in the Omaha, Council Bluffs area. The bouquets are complete with their signature burlap wrap and individualized stem water tubes, rather than a vase.

‘What you see is what you get’—and that’s a big difference

Less than a year ago, Bliss was working at Paypal and came in contact with many customers who were less than pleased when they received their floral arrangements from online retailers.

Bliss explained that many companies use pipe cleaners and Photoshop to accentuate their product in photos. These retailers aren’t able to live up to their overhyped stock photography, leaving customers with buyer’s remorse. Bliss saw an opportunity to focus on and improve the customer experience within the flower-buying industry.

“We want Zinnia to be the one-stop-shop for buying bouquets,” said Bliss. “What you see is what you get. No hidden service or delivery fees. No crushed expectations. We want to provide our customers with high-quality flowers at an affordable price.”

Finding credibility as a new company

Earlier this summer, Zinnia entered from the Straight Shot accelerator in Omaha. Bliss explained that their experience was vital to making their goal realistic and doable.

“We originally set out to be an app that could connect everyone to their local floral shop. We quickly realized how large of an undertaking that was, so we decided to pivot and focus on making the consumer experience the best it can be, which is something we think that we will be able to replicate better than our original model,” said Bliss.

One of the reasons Zinnia decided to pivot was the issue of credibility within the industry.

“We needed to establish credibility with the people who have a ton of experience within the industry,” said Bliss. “We needed them to buy into Zinnia’s concept so we could tell them how to improve their customer service model. We just didn’t have that at the beginning stages.”

The power of the right mentor

Zinnia’s solution to building credibility was establishing a partnership with mentor Rhonda Bullington who lent them her space, time and expertise in the flower industry.

“She is an award-winning designer, forward thinker and believed in what we were trying to do. She wanted to help us establish a way for customers to get what they want through our modern and fresh approach,” said Bliss.

Thanks to the support from Straight Shot, Bullington and a prototype grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Zinnia is now open for business.

“As we grow and expand, our vision would be to take what we’ve learned as a model, prove that it can be successful at the local level and try to create similar arrangements with other florists across the Silicon Prairie,” said Bliss.

Melanie Lucks is an intern for Silicon Prairie News and AIM Careerlink.

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