A blossoming tech business model
Technology and nature may not always appear at first glance to be an obvious pairing, but co-founder and CEO Aron Gelbard has successfully combined the two to revitalise an established industry.
“It struck me that there wasn’t a service for flower gifting that people loved to use,” Gelbard says. “From the beginning we realised the answer had to be innovative technology.”
Bloom & Wild offers next-day delivery flower deliveries in custom boxes that fit through a standard letterbox, processed through its website or app.
Our business may not be curing a disease, but we thought this would be a great way of having a positive impact on people’s lives.
Aron Gelbard, Bloom&Wild
Learning the trade from scratch
Previously a consultant at Bain & Company, Gelbard set up Bloom & Wild with no previous experience of the flower industry. He initially rented space at Covent Garden Market in south London, developing relationships with growers and building a vital supply chain.
During the first six-months, Gelbard bootstrapped his floristry venture, funding Bloom & Wild website’s development. Quickly though, he realised the real gap in the market was a mobile app. So he set to work to raise £150,000 of Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme funding.
Developing the app in 2014 helped to accelerate the company’s service offering. In particular its letterbox delivery service, which now accounts for 80-90% of the company’s sales.
“The letterbox delivery lets us really differentiate our offering in the market,” explains Gelbard, “gaining early brand recognition and headway”.
Getting over growing pains
Three years on, Deloitte named Bloom & Wild the ‘second fastest-growing UK tech business’, pipped to the post by Deliveroo. But Gelbard believes the company’s growth journey could have been smoother.
“We underinvested in technology in our early days,” he says. “We thought the technology would be simpler to create than it actually was.”
Gelbard and his co-founder Ben Stanway lacked technical know-how and so overlooked the complexity of creating world-class technology. “This was partly due to cost, but also knowing what to do and how to do it well,” he says.
Had they foreseen this problem, Gelbard believes the company could have got off to a quicker start, being “more responsive to customer feedback in the early stages”. He now regularly discusses the ins and outs of tech with fellow entrepreneurs.
Achieving metrics, reaps investments
Part of the UK’s competitive £2bn cut-flower industry, Gelbard is focusing on maximising his human capital. “We only employ a small amount of staff compared to our competitors,” he says. “But we’ve hired people who genuinely care about our customers and our mission.”
When it comes to its key metrics, the company focuses intently on customer retention, a high net promoter score and repeat-customer rate. Success in these areas has validated their business model in investor circles.
Bloom & Wild has successfully raised £7.25m through Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme funding and two rounds of venture capital. From a strong capital base, the company has recorded impressive growth, recently expanding into Germany, France and Ireland.
In September 2018, Bloom & Wild raised an additional £15m in a round led by Piper, which included MMC Ventures, Burda Principal Investments and existing angel investors.