‘We keep it very simple:’ Single-bouquet florist startup raises $550,000

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The founders of Fresh Sends, Jesse and Ty Hiss. Photos published with kind permission of the company.

If you want to send flowers to someone in another city, you can hop on 1-800-Flowers.com and choose from almost 200 bouquets.

Jesse and Ty Hiss, meanwhile, want you to consider the polar opposite.

Fresh Sends, the Denver-based company the pair founded in 2020, offers customers a single bouquet option on any given day and does not include a photo on their website, although one is usually posted on social media. . The bouquet changes every week.

“We keep it very simple,” Ty said.

The model works. The couple said Fresh Sends made $2 million in revenue last year and is on track for $6 million in revenue this year. This equates to approximately 40,000 orders since its launch in 2020.

“You may not be able to choose what’s in your bouquet, but we’ve found that a lot of people really send flowers for the sentiment behind it, rather than the flowers themselves,” Jesse said.

On March 28, Fresh Sends closed its first $550,000 funding round. The round was led by New York-based Sidera Labs with participation from angel investors including Karelle Golda, co-founder of Denver-based skiwear brand Halfdays; Priscilla Tsai, founder of skincare company Cocokind; and Jeremy Cai, CEO of luxury online retailer Italic.

“For the past two years, we’ve been operationally capped,” Jesse said. “We can’t keep up with orders, so we really want to use that money to uncap operations. I mean our sales probably could have been five times what they were last year, but all we we do is handmade, so we want to find a way to scale efficiently and cost-effectively.

Fresh Sends sources flowers from farms in California and Washington, as well as Ecuador and Colombia. The bouquets, which are wrapped in Fresh Sends brand newsprint, are assembled in a 6,000 square foot warehouse the company rents at 3888 Forest St. in Park Hill.

The weekly bouquet is available in two sizes. The smallest, with up to 18 flowers, costs $60, while the largest with up to 27 flowers costs $95. On top of that, there’s a flat $25 fee for Priority Overnight Shipping anywhere in the continental United States.

Customers can add a card with a personalized message at no cost. But there are no other additional options.

“You can go to 1-800-Flowers.com and scroll through the pages of corny bouquets, but I don’t know a single friend who wants to send something like that or a fruit basket or a laser-engraved trinket,” said said Jesse. .

Ty, a 27-year-old Colorado native, fell in love with floral design after helping her sister plan her wedding and started a business straight out of college in 2017. In 2019, she began delivering about five bunches a day for $35 each, going from Aurora to Boulder, and has traveled thousands of miles in his car.

“After researching the floral delivery landscape, I realized there was plenty of room to put a little more heart behind it,” Ty said. “That’s when Jesse came along and we decided to put all our eggs in one basket.”

Jesse Hiss, a former CU football player, worked in commercial real estate for JLL and HFF before leaving to focus on Fresh Sends with his wife. Before renting the Park Hill warehouse, the couple moved out of their Highland duplex in 2020 and moved into Ty’s sister’s basement so they could use their home as an assembly line.

Originally, the company offered two styles of bouquets at once: one where customers could see what it would look like, and a second that would be a wildcard.

“We realized that ultimately our customers weren’t complaining about not being able to choose their arrangement, so it simplifies things for us in the background to make sure we’re focusing on freshness, seasonality and that the arrangement is best, rather than ensuring that a certain color or type of rod is in. And we haven’t looked back since.

Big companies like 1-800-Flowers.com, Teleflora and Transworld Delivery for Florists has had a grip on the flower delivery market for some time.

The couple said they plan to use their new capital to expand Fresh Send’s 18-person workforce and open two more assembly and distribution centers on the east and west coasts. The centers will allow them to cut shipping costs by 30%, Ty said, because overnight shipping across the country from one location has cost astronomically.

“We really see ourselves as playing on the same playing field as Farmgirl Flowers and UrbanStems, some of these new ventures that have already raised over $20 million, and before that we haven’t raised anything,” Jesse said. “We want to scale this with as little money as possible.”

And the company plans to expand its product offering somewhat in the fourth quarter, allowing customers to add nonperishable gifts such as candles or oil diffusers.

“We want to focus on items that people will enjoy and use, not just throw away,” Jesse said. “We want to expand Fresh Sends into the gift market, where you can send great products with a wonderful experience to recipients across the country.”

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