When I first came up with the idea for Blossm in October 2019, it didn’t start off explicitly as an entrepreneurial endeavor, but rather as a personal problem I wanted to solve.
After a random plant trade in my neighborhood of Ocean Beach, SD (beautifully covered here by - Shoutout Socal) I went home to look for a plant- dedicated platform where I could swap plants with people in my town, and at its essence, connect with like-minded green thumbs.
After a couple of days of venturing down the internet rabbit hole, I was in disbelief that this platform didn’t exist! After further research, I realized that the houseplant market was rapidly growing (Millenials & Houseplants, 2020), with some unique characteristics.
- Millennials are the passionate demographic really driving this houseplant buying behavior and collecting them like pokemon. Many were creating separate Instagram (IG) profiles focused only on their plants, akin to someone making one for their dog or cat (an early signal of a new market development I discovered). Hence, "Plants as the New Pets” slogan we have adopted for Blossm.
- Disruption of the traditional plant market. Consumers were no longer strictly buying plants at their local nursery, but were flocking online to buy coveted wishlist plants and species that didn’t exist at these brick and mortar stores.
- Formation of a new gig economy. Many plant collectors jumped at the opportunity of this growing market by propagating their plants and selling them as a side-hustle and/or even establishing legitimate LLC online plant businesses.
A few months later in December 2019, I secured a technical co-founder in my climbing and surfing buddy, Nick Mitchell, and we got to work. Soon after, the pandemic struck, and this already growing houseplant market really accelerated (Houseplants Trends for 2021).
We launched Blossm in June 2020, with an early focus on trading or “plant swapping.” In response to clear user feedback, we quickly added buying and selling functionality, but were explicitly marketing and branded as a swapping platform.
During this time, I spent the next two years swapping plants, growing my plant collection and receiving unemployment as the pandemic kept extending benefits. I knew this would eventually end and my plan was to sell my plants on my own platform once the time arrived.
July 2021 arrives and I commit to becoming a Blossm “power seller.” I was able to build a plant selling business within my own platform, establish the proof of concept for this emerging gig economy and grow the community for my company. HOW COOL IS THAT!?
Here’s how I started selling plants from my personal collection, on my own platform and extended my runway for 2 years. I was able to pay all my monthly bills, averaging $1.5k a month, until we received our 1st large investment of $120k, through the Techstars '23 accelerator program.
Plant Selling Guidelines
- Learn the types of propagation. It’s not difficult. Just have fun, try different mediums like LECA, Stratum, perlite and experiment! A few useful techniques to pick up are air-layering and node propagation with “prop boxes.”
- Include high-demand plants in your inventory like: the Monsters Albo, Philodendron Pink Princess & Monstera Thai Constellation. Some of the top genera are: Hoya, Philodendron, Anthurium, Monstera & Alocasia.
- Add some variegated plants to your inventory. These are still expensive because they are less common or rare and are much more difficult to find. Highly variegated plants will still fetch a premium price.
- Think Long-term: Like any business, think long-term and establish rapport and trust with your buyer. A short gain in money is not worth ruining a long-term relationship.
- Prompt communication & transparency. Communication is key in any relationship, especially one involing money. Respond quickly and try to avoid leaving users on “read.” Be clear about the history of your plant. Is it imported? Was it recently cut? Add pictures of the mother plant, root and stem if it’s variegated.
- Package with care - Tape your plants down inside the box so they don’t move around in transit. Polyfil is your best best friend for cushioning your plants and is the standard for packing material. You can read further instructions here: How to Package Plants Guide.
- If problems arise, be willing to compromise & meet their needs. Many are open to chat if you communicate, show an openness to work with them. We built partial refunds into Blossm for this.
- Go above & beyond & check the weather for them. I usually offer add-ons like heat packs and insulation for free.
Tips to Sell on Blossm
- “Bump” items often. Bump your items everyday.
- Keep your shop fresh by uploading new items, which sends notifications: to your followers, to anyone who has your plant on their wishlist, to people who have saved searches for those items
- Utilize the Blossm transaction system. We built this to prevent scamming and help plant buyers and sellers track packages. It really streamlines the process. Asking people to leave the platform or using other payment methods comes off as scammy.
- Socialize in the Blossm Community Forum to give yourself visibility and the community will get to know you. This is a great way to build trust and make friendships with your fellow plant people
- Sign up for a Blossm Giveaway. You can message the verified @Blossm account in-app.
If you ever have any questions, feel free to shoot me a message on Blossm. I’m always happy to share knowledge, nerd out and talk about plants!