Many people prefer to convey their feelings through symbols, instead of words; and there’s nothing like a bouquet of flowers to communicate sentiments of love, gratefulness, appreciation, and even regret. But this simple gesture can be costly, especially now that people rely less on homegrown cut flowers, instead purchasing bouquets from florists and other retail outlets.
Student entrepreneur Kate Klavins has found a way to keep flowers affordable and the gesture thriving across Adelaide. Her startup Floragram allows Adelaidians to purchase a surprise bouquet for $25, including delivery.
When an order comes through – currently via Facebook interactions – Klavins heads off to a wholesaler bright and early in the morning, and chooses the best market flowers of the day. She then delivers it to recipients around Adelaide.
“Having worked at a florist for the past two years, I just felt like a lot of people want to give a beautiful bunch as a gesture, but often people do not buy or have flowers delivered because of the cost. I think giving flowers should be about the gesture, the quality and the enjoyment it brings – not the cost or size,” she says.
“Floragram is all about sending beautiful little bunches to make someone’s day, and making flower giving more convenient and affordable!”
Floragram was launched as a part of the Flinders University Venture Dorm program in Adelaide. It wasn’t long before Klavins was able to validate her idea through paying customers, with no website, no inventory, no technical knowledge and no capital.
She says she walked into Venture Dorm program with nothing but an idea lingering at the back of her mind.
“After talking through the idea and developing over the first two weeks, I got some really encouraging feedback from mentors and other participants saying they would use the idea, and liked the affordable price point. Orren Prunckun and my mentor, Tom Young, basically encouraged me to “just do it”, and suggested I set up a Facebook page and start selling some flowers for that Sunday,” says Klavins.
“I set up Floragram on Facebook, bought some bouquets to wrap and photograph for the page, and posted about the Sunday deliveries available. Then on Sunday I made up three bouquets and sold them all.”
This kind of service isn’t entirely unique, Klavins admits. She’s seen the idea being executed elsewhere, and has since wanted to launch her own version of it. But it wasn’t until she received some encouragement at Venture Dorm that she decided to take that leap.
“I think the business in unique mainly because of the price point, and the fact that it also includes delivery. I am also exploring different styles and wraps for the bunches so they will have a distinctive look,” says Klavins.
“As the flowers are bought fresh on the day of delivery, customers know they will be of high quality. Even though it’s an online-based business, I hope they can get a sense of my passion, and how much effort I put into finding the best bunch for them.”
Given it’s still early days, Klavins hasn’t found a particular demographic to target her service to. At the moment, her most captive audience consists of females. Her mentor, Young, however suggested that she explore the market of male professionals – those who buy bouquets for their partners or mums, who value convenience and don’t mind which blooms are chosen in the bouquet as long as it looks beautiful.
At the moment, Klavins is taking orders through Facebook. She explains that customers send private messages communicating their interest in purchasing a bouquet, and Klavins organises an online bank transfer. She is currently working on a website, and setting up a PayPal link to automate the process.
Floragram has been operating for a month, and Klavins has had about one order per day. This number may seem underwhelming, but Klavins says she’s proud of the fact that she’s been able to generate revenue from her startup so soon after its inception.
“At the very least it shows there are people out there who like my idea…and are willing to pay for my service,” she says.
“Selling and preparing four bunches for a single order was really exciting! For $100 they could have ordered from any florist in Adelaide but they chose me, so that was pretty cool. Receiving messages from the senders of saying the recipient really loved the flowers is so nice to hear too, and is what it’s all about really!”
Although the simplicity of the idea has resonated with her audience, Klavins admits that it was a source of insecurity when she started off at Venture Dorm.
“In the third week when the idea kicked off, I was actually quite down about it because I felt like it was very ‘small’ and low tech compared to what everyone else was working on. In the end, I think it was the simplicity of the idea that made it easy to get up and running,” she says.
One of the biggest challenges for Klavins has been managing time. She’s currently finishing off her Bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing at Flinders University and attending two jobs, while working on her startup.
“I don’t have a lot of free time, but because I’m so passionate about this idea I find I’m putting a lot of effort into it!” says Klavins.
The other big challenge has been the sheer novelty of starting up a business and the practicalities that come with it, especially in the early stages – like learning how to buy a domain name, finding a platform to build a website, understanding Facebook ads and using PayPal.
“At university you learn a lot of theory, but it’s not really as easy or straight forward as they make it seem! They might recommend for a brand to ‘build a social media presence’, but actually starting a Facebook page and finding ways to engage people and spread the world can be quite tricky,” says Klavins.
“Economies of scale are also something I need to achieve. By setting up the website soon and ramping up my marketing efforts, hopefully I can build up my sales so that the time spent and cost per bunch starts to decrease.”
Despite how hectic running a startup can be in the early days, Klavins is taking things as they come.
“For now, I am really happy to work on the idea for the duration of Venture Dorm to get as much as possible out of the opportunity, and progress the idea as far as I can in the remaining six weeks,” she says.
Although Floragram may only last for the duration of the program, Klavins has every intention on keeping it alive for as long as she can.
“I would be more than happy to continue on, as I really enjoy hands-on learning and feel like I am getting a lot out of this experience. I figure now is a great time in my life to just give it a shot. And if worst comes to worst, at least I’ve learnt a lot,” she says.
Her final words of wisdom for young aspiring entrepreneurs is “just go for it!”
“Just as Venture Dorm has encouraged me, I would like to encourage anyone who has an idea they really believe in: just go for it! Start small to prove your idea and talk to lots of people to help identify the aspects that are good, and the ones that need improvement,” Klavins adds.
You can check out Floragram on Facebook: www.facebook.com/popupflowers.