Ace Blooms wants to grow the flower market for men

If you’ve ever bought flowers online, you’ve flipped through dozens of bouquets trying to decide which one says “You’re a pretty awesome grandma.” But what many buyers don’t realize is that when you send flowers, the order is being fulfilled by a florist near grandma’s house. If that’s in small town Nebraska, they might not have…

aceblooms_featured

aceblooms_featured

If you’ve ever bought flowers online, you’ve flipped through dozens of bouquets trying to decide which one says “You’re a pretty awesome grandma.”

But what many buyers don’t realize is that when you send flowers, the order is being fulfilled by a florist near grandma’s house. If that’s in small town Nebraska, they might not have the same flowers as a shop in Minneapolis or Chicago. Sometimes substitutions have to be made and what grandma ends up getting looks nothing like the stock photo you saw online.

The Des Moines-based startup Ace Blooms is looking to simplify the ordering process and help smaller florists build bouquets with their best flowers, rather than trying to recreate a stock photo out of the stock on hand.

How Ace Blooms works

Co-founders Shawn Harrington, Justin Schoen and Lyndsay Horgan launched Goquets in 2014, taking the company through the Iowa Startup Accelerator in 2015. Goquets still exists, but while going through the accelerator, the trio decided they wanted to target a more specific audience and for the the company to have more of a unique voice.

As a result, they spun off Ace Blooms earlier this year. The company labels itself as “The way men buy flowers online.”

“We wanted to fill the needs of the male market, and it’s something women like too,” Harrington said. “They want something to point their husbands and boyfriends to.”

When Harrington was living in upstate New York, he would visit the local florist for flowers for his mom and grandma. He would tell them how much he wanted to spend, and what occasion the flowers were for. When he would order flowers online, he didn’t get similar options, and was often disappointed in the results.

“It really burned me that one time I spent half an hour picking out bouquets, based on the pictures online. When I saw a picture of what was sent, it was completely different from what I ordered,” Harrington said. “I called to complain and the florist apologized and said they were limited in their stock, but if I told them my budget, they could have taken good care of me.”

When ordering from Ace Blooms, the site starts by asking who the flowers are for, letting you pick “girlfriend,” “wife” and “mother” with a single click. You also mark the occasion (“birthday,” “anniversary” and “congratulations” are all quick pick options), when you would like them delivered and how much you want to spend, ranging from $50-$130.

After placing an order, it is sent to a local florist who builds a personalized bouquet. There’s also an optional preferences field, if you want to specify that aunt Helen loves daises.

Planning for perennial business

Harrington said Ace Blooms might have 15-20 orders on an average day, but that can shoot up to more than 100 per day when a big holiday rolls around. Because Ace Blooms works with florists in all 50 states, there’s no issue scaling up orders when something like Grandparents Day, or the florists Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, rolls around.

Ace Blooms was recently a part of 1 Million Cups 1 in a Million competition, as one of 40 teams submitting an elevator pitch for a $25,000 prize. Ace didn’t move on the next round, but Harrington said there are more plans in the works to expand Ace’s brand.

The company was recently featured on the Men’s Style Lab blog, and Harrington said they plan to partner with more men-focused sites to get guys thinking more about flowers. This month Ace Blooms will also be launching a “Bourbon & Blooms” video series, featuring men talking about flowers while sipping bourbon.

“We’re seeing a lot of buying habits change, with people wanting to buy quicker and from their phones, and florists are trying to adjust to these online customers,” Harrington said. “We want Ace Blooms to be the premiere solution in the florist industry. But we also want the company to compliment other products in the male market.”

Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.

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