UrbanStems Delivers Happiness (Well, Flowers) On Demand

On-demand flower-delivery startup UrbanStems is expanding to Brooklyn with the promise to deliver fresh bouquets of flowers, starting at $35, within two hours of ordering.

The company launched in D.C. last year, the week of Valentine’s Day, and expanded to Manhattan in December. They’ve delivered tens of thousands of bouquets, and the company reports that sales are growing by double digits month-over-month.

Co-founder Ajay Kori drew the inspiration for UrbanStems from his own flower-delivery mishap that nearly resulted in a break-up. Intending to surprise his long-distance girlfriend with flowers (which never arrived), he didn’t call until late at night, and she assumed he forgot about her.

“With traditional flower delivery, there are so many people involved that the price gets driven up, but the local florist ends up getting much less than someone walking in their door,” says Kori. “The Internet has made everything better and cheaper, but in this case it’s done the opposite.”

To cut out the middlemen, UrbanStems is working with a network of farms to grow their own flowers and ship them directly to distribution locations across the country.

The farms, located in Colombia and Ecuador, are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which means that they’re ecologically sustainable and pay their employees fair wages. The bouquets are assembled on the farm, and trucked or flown to the U.S. so that flowers are delivered to recipients within a couple of days of being picked.

“Typically flowers go from a farm, to an importer, to a wholesaler, to the end florist, where they sit in the store for a while,” says Kori. “By the time you get them they’ve already been off the stem for a week and a half, and they’re starting to die.”

A handful of venture-backed flower-delivery startups have sprung up recently, namely BloomThat and BloomNation, but Kori tells me that UrbanStems is the first to vertically integrate operations.

UrbanStems is currently available in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Washington D.C., and parts of Virginia and Maryland. The company plans to roll out in additional cities before the end of the year.

“Our goal is to make gifting a better experience,” says Kori. “Just how you pull out your phone to call a car or get your dry cleaning done, we want you to be able to pull out your phone and make someone’s day.”