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Home Startups Online Flower Marketplace NairobiBlooms.com Wants to Make Everyday St.Valentine’s Day

Online Flower Marketplace NairobiBlooms.com Wants to Make Everyday St.Valentine’s Day

by Sam Wakoba
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slide1Nairobi Blooms is Nairobi’s new online flower delivery, event, and supply firm set to make everyday a celebration of loved ones.

The firm sources its supply from about two dozen open-air markets around the city and also links customers with local vendors online using its custom or personally designed range of bouquets that users can order online.

Founded by Jay Bahadur and his local partner and former co-worker, Asiya Shidane, both former editors at Somalia Report, an independent news website that employed about 100 reporters in Somalia and Kenya, the site works simply.

“When we receive an order, we send it out to our vendors we have a total of about 50 using Echo Mobile, a web-based SMS platform. The first vendor to respond that they have the required flowers and can make the bouquet, receives the business. We then send a motorbike to pick up the order and complete delivery,”Jay told TechMoran.

The two both with a background in the media think a journalism background helps prepare one to run a business as it trained them to learn about just any subject quickly, they know how to deal with people, and polished verbal and written skills.However, journalism didn’t push them to flowers.

“I love flowers, ” says Jay. “When I moved to Kenya a few years ago, I was blown away by the quality of flowers you could get on the curbside, and for such low prices relative to what we paid back home. I thought such a platform would be perfect.”

“Most people are used to going to restaurants, so why offer online delivery? Customers like the convenience of ordering from home, especially if — as is often the case with flowers — they are sending a gift. Also, I think many people, especially expats, don’t like the hassle and stress of haggling over prices with local vendors,” Jay adds.

Though most florist shops will deliver if requested, and there is one major online delivery shop in the market, NairobiBlooms model allows them to easily outcompete them on price, which are on average three to four times lower according to the founders.
Recently, NairobiBlooms did a cross-promotion with a really great artisanal bakery, Sugarpie which aims to franchise the production of cupcakes out to women in slums, with the hopes of providing them with a better livelihood, a similar model to Nairobi Blooms.

In two years, NairobiBlooms aims to be the highest grossing flower delivery company, both in value and volume and also expand into hotel and restaurant supply.

“We’d like to be the place customers turn when they have a wedding or office event to plan. Of course, we also plan to tap our local vendor network when it comes to event planning — many of them are extremely talented, but don’t have the connections or business acumen to land big contracts. Again, that’s where we come in — as a company that links local talent with customers,” he says.

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Just like his old days as a managing editor at Somalia Report, Jay managed a staff of seven and a local reporter network of over 100. These reporters, in a way, were like his local vendors at Nairobi Blooms as he had to commission stories and assignments much as he “commissions” flower orders. But Somalia Report had outside backers and wasn’t expected to run at a profit, which of course is very different from most businesses, he adds.
Jay says  the horticulture industry in Kenya is very bright and just at birth. He says he knows someone in the industry here who’s working on a technique to put Kenyan export flowers in stasis, allowing them to be shipped by container ship instead of air freight. He says shipping by sea is much cheaper and it will allow Kenya to access Asian markets more readily. The new railway to Mombasa will also be another opportunity for vendors and if Kenya’s port infrastructure is overhauled, there will be a lot of exciting opportunities opening up.

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