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Goquets joins Iowa accelerator to gain national traction

Goquets co-founders Shawn Harrington and Lyndsay Horgan at the Iowa Startup Accelerator.

Goquets co-founders Shawn Harrington and Lyndsay Horgan at the Iowa Startup Accelerator.

Goquets co-founders Shawn Harrington and Lyndsay Horgan want to improve the experience of purchasing flowers online.

The company, founded during Ames Startup Weekend in 2013, exists to remove “guesswork” from the process by allowing purchasers to share their preferences, instead of pointing to a static photo, when placing their orders via the web or mobile devices.

Harrington said the arrangements Goquets has made with regional networks of local florists – revolving around these types of “open orders” – allow them to get flowers that are in-stock out of the door while encouraging high rates of customer satisfaction and return. He said it takes fewer than three minutes to place an order at www.goquets.com, which asks simply for users to type in their preferences – if any ­– alongside how much they would like to spend.

“We realized there was a huge problem in regards to what was being promised versus what was being delivered,” Harrington said. “Goquets streamlines the process to eliminate inconsistencies and remove any discrepancy between buying in-store and online. Florists can always choose from their fresh inventory without being limited to what was shown in a photo. Just give us the details you care about, and the experts will handle the rest.”

From Startup Weekend to Venture School to accelerator

Goquets, formerly known as Bloomsnap, rolled out with a new name in May 2015, about 15 months following its launch on the national stage. To date, more than 500 bouquets been shipped – to all 50 states – via orders through the company’s website and in celebration of everything from birthdays and anniversaries to May Day, Dog Day, Middle Child Day and alternative events.

Both Harrington and Horgan point to their educational and networking experiences within the Iowa entrepreneurial community and Des Moines-area startup scene as pivotal elements in terms of their business’ development and growth.

The co-founders represent one of nine businesses heads down at the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA) in Cedar Rapids. The intensive 94-day resident program matches technology-based companies with seed funding, mentorship opportunities and development expertise, and allows them to validate their business models and test ideas in the marketplace. Goquets was awarded funding in the form of a $20,000 investment upon its acceptance into the ISA program.

Workers arrange bouquets for a Goquets regional partner and Des Moines-area florist Boesen The Florist.

Workers arrange bouquets for a Goquets regional partner and Des Moines-area florist Boesen The Florist.

Horgan said Goquet’s participation in the University of Iowa’s Venture School last year in Des Moines also helped the company to better comprehend the importance and value of customer discovery interviews.

“For us the focus was on narrowing down our pitch and defining the story we are trying to get out and sell people on a day-to-day basis,” Horgan said. “It’s a cool building process that our company has gotten to go through. It can’t be overstated how important it is to ask questions to find out if what you are building is what people want.”

To date more than 500 bouquets been shipped to all 50 states

With the logistics side of the business “wrapped up,” Horgan said, Goquets is now focused on its consumer-facing marketing efforts while considering how fast it can grow in front of a national audience.

“Goquets was born when we started asking, ‘Why do we have to go through this and be the expert when all we are trying to do is send our mom or grandma a bouquet?’” Harrington said. “This also helps the florists to manage their small business, where inventory management can make or break their bottom line.”

“It’s a seven-day-a-week job right now. It’s a lot of fun, to be completely honest, because we are all working hard around here to make our businesses bigger and better.”

Launch Day for the ISA’s 2015 cohort is scheduled to take place November 5, at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex. Free tickets are available on their website.

A new version of Goquets website is set to go live in early October.

Todd Razor is a Des Moines-based writer and multimedia storyteller who covers technology and innovation in the real estate, construction and manufacturing industries.

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