Weekly Startup Profiles > Spring Blossoms
|Spring Blossom grew out of a simple realization: most people don't see the flowers they send. And Laxmi realized this before anyone else did! Check out her blooming story|
Online florist and gourmet gifts
Spring Blossom grew out of a simple realization: most people don't see the flowers that they send. "So touch and feel is not very important. They just need to 'see' a picture of what they are paying for and have it delivered to the recipient without much ado," explained Laxmi Lobo, the company's founder.
At the same time that Laxmi had this epiphany, she saw that the increase in use of mobile telephony was making florists in distant cities more accessible.
So Laxmi put these two thoughts together, and decided that, rather than open retail stores in multiple locations, she could find a way to serve more customers by networking existing florists.
Laxmi's idea was to design and market a standard set of bouquets that customers could purchase from a single online location. These bouquets would be created and delivered to the recipients by an affiliated florist based in the same city or neighborhood as the recipient. Using this model, Laxmi found a way to go nationwide while avoiding the costs of establishing stores.
This was the beginning, in 2005, of Spring Blossom's transformation from a simple florist shop to a growing online retailer.
"People are actually willing to pay that much for flowers!" she exclaims: Laxmi's research shows average ticket sales of Rs. 750 to Rs. 900 for flowers.
Laxmi's primary customers fall into two groups. The first comprises web-savvy professionals who send flowers for birthdays or other special occasions. The second group is corporates sending gifts to clients, or with daily needs for flowers as office d
Spring Blossoms represents one of the classic "Under Rs. 10 lakh Opportunities." In fact, so far the company has come in much below that bar for startup capital.
Setting up the shop in Dadar required an investment of about Rs. 2 lacs. And additional Rs. 3 lacs was invested in design for the shop, website and overhead costs, bringing the entire investment to date to about Rs. 5 lakh.
Laxmi began with a love of flowers, and a desire to quit her job as an air hostess. When one of her close friends who owned a floriculture unit asked her to handle the wholesale flowers division of his company, Laxmi jumped at the chance, providing herself with her initiation into the flower trade.
However, after a few years, Laxmi wanted to move into an area that allowed more creativity, and freed her from the constraints of an industry with large entrenched players. She decided to move from wholesale to retail and enrolled in a number of courses on floral design before launching her store.
Today, Spring Blossom's team totals 17, most of whom are running the store rather than working on the online business.
Over the past three years, Spring Blossoms has built a strong base of corporate clients that includes Rediff, O&M, JW Marriott, HDFC, Reliance Communication, Reliance Energy, and Motorola. The company's annual turnover is over Rs. 70 lakhs, with almost half now coming from the online affiliate business.
Spring Blossom's network of affiliates currently stands at 65 and covers 25 cities. One of the ongoing issues is the dynamic nature of the network. Reflecting the essentially unorganized nature of the industry, members come and go, sometimes because they shut down.
Achieving standard quality requires Laxmi to engage her creativity. "It's not possible to match the quality of Bombay roses in Delhi, so I try to ensure quality through my designs," explains Laxmi.
As for her growth? Laxmi continues to build out her network, using her affiliates in major metros to form hubs in the regions. She has also spotted opportunity: allow customers to send a gift of chocolates or other gourmet food along with the flowers. "Up-market gourmet products it is. There is a high demand for those," says Laxmi.
Laxmi intends to open Spring Blossom shipping centers across India tol allow customers to combine gourmet products with the flowers they send through her existing network. Flowers paired with Italian biscuits or fabulous homemade chocolates will become easy-to-buy and easy-to-send gifts all across India, if Laxmi has her way.
"It changes," she says. First it was attrition. Now it's sorting out - increasingly complicated operations with the gourmet products coming in. "My product is fresh flowers at the end of the day. But bifurcation of the two is a grey area," she elaborates.
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