Bloomon and its incredible journey

Nicolas Christou
Inkef
Published in
5 min readMay 6, 2021

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Bloomon’s co-founders: Bart Troost, Patrick Hurenkamp and Koen Thijssen (from left to right)

Two weeks ago, Inkef said goodbye to an incredible group of founders and an amazing company: bloomon. Inkef first met the team 6 years ago, in the summer of 2015 in one of their greenhouses in their Amsterdam offices, which was used as a meeting room and immediately fell in love with the team and their vision.

The team of 13 employees was led by three stellar co-founders Bart Troost, Patrick Hurenkamp and Koen Thijssen. The three Dutchmen had a simple idea to disrupt the European flower market. They realized that out of the EUR 25 billion of flowers sold every year, only 1% was sold online! Furthermore, most of these flowers did not arrive fresh and had thus limited shelf life due to the numerous logistical steps required before arriving in your living room.

At Inkef, we like companies that attack value chains by taking out steps and complexity. On top of that, as a fund with Dutch roots, we are of course proud of the pivotal role the Netherlands plays in the European Flower Industry. Over 70% of the flowers sold in Europe pass the Netherlands on their way to the end destination.

In other words, all the logistic infrastructure was already in place on which to build a European business. Another element which we really liked is that bloomon not only sought to create value on the customer side but also promised a better experience on the supply side: the growers.

Mother’s day bouquet

The flower industry is still incredibly fragmented on the supplier side, with many growers who have their own specializations. Besides having to deal with weather which impacts their output, they typically do not have a lot of visibility on the price which will be paid for their flowers. There is a reason why there exists a ‘Dutch Reverse Auction’ mechanism as this is how flowers have been sold for decades. Aalsmeer (close to Amsterdam) is the location of the Flower exchange where prices are set every day for stems.

However, bloomon can provide upfront visibility to the growers on both volume as well as price providing greater visibility on margins. It also made it possible for growers to plant more exclusive flowers in a dialogue with the bloomon team as they knew that there would be a buyer. The consumer benefits from having more diversity in each of their bloomon bouquets, either purchased as a subscription or as a gift.

From the first day, bloomon decided to take a radically different approach to all its competitors and did not just want to sell fresh flowers online but wanted to provide the best possible experience to their customers. The team led by Anton van Duijn designed bouquets with unique shapes and styles to provide a completely new experience. They considerably shortened the cut-flower value chain by leapfrogging auction and wholesale and buying the flowers directly from the grower, this initiative reduced the time to consumers by 80% but also provided fresher and longer-lasting bouquets. Finally, they also allow customers to receive flowers on a subscription basis so they could always have fresh bouquets waiting for them at home.

Cut-flower value chain

We knew that bloomon would have an impact for its customers, but what we did not anticipate is how their floral designs have literally changed what a bouquet looks like in the Netherlands. Over the years we saw more bloomon-inspired bouquets pop up at florists and today you can buy them across the country. Flowers in 2021 simply look better thanks to the efforts of the bloomon team!

“We knew that there was a massive ecosystem for flowers in the Netherlands. Yet under the traditional model, flowers would often lay around for days on tables, in storerooms and at auction houses before making it to the consumer. That meant the consumer was often sold half-dead or wilting flowers. We knew that we had the opportunity to disrupt that model. Furthermore, we wanted to really support the growers by cutting out the middle man, and bring them closer to their customers.”

Patrick Hurenkamp

Convinced by the opportunity, Inkef decided to lead bloomon’s Series A in November 2015, and through the years continued to support the company and its founders through the good and difficult times by participating in all funding rounds.

As with all start-ups, things have not always been going smoothly. We all underestimated how difficult it was to scale internationally as culture has an impact on the type of flowers people would like to receive and the concept of a flower-subscription did not land in every country as well. The quality of third party logistic services today is radically different from what it looked like five years ago. In 2019, the company unfortunately had to let some people go to reduce the cost level. Each of those talented people, recruited and onboarded with effort. Those episodes are the toughest for everyone involved, employees, founders and investors alike and rarely spoken about. The team has handled this incredibly well though and was able to continue to grow and reach profitability in 2020 at the same time.

Six years after our first investment, the creative and rebellious approach of bloomon has proven to be successful. The company grew rapidly and has a presence in five European countries including, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany, and employs more than 120 employees.

Two weeks ago, bloomon announced its acquisition by Bloom & Wild, a London-based online flower delivery and gifting platform. We believe that the two companies are highly complementary in terms of geographic footprint, product and vision. bloomon is strong in the Benelux and Danish markets, where Bloom & Wild has no presence, but has limited footprint in the UK, where Bloom & Wild is the clear market leader. Overall, the combined business expects to exceed 8 million deliveries, and forecasts a turnover of EUR 250 million in 2021!

For the Inkef team, It has been a privilege to have been a part of bloomon journey and to work with the team through the ups and downs over the last six years alongside fellow investors; Tablomonto, Partech, Fortino and several angels. We wish Bloom & Wild / bloomon, Aron, Bart & Patrick all the success with continuing to build out their company!

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