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Everyone loves getting flowers. Even those people who say they don’t like flowers—put a gorgeous arrangement in front of them, and chances are they’ll be changing their tune. As you may remember (and as you are constantly being reminded this week, whether you want to or not) Friday is Valentine’s Day. Boy, girl, in a relationship, single, or “it’s complicated,” it would be nice to get some flowers this holiday (“holiday”). So instead of stressing over whether it will arrive on the day, the amount of money, or what flowers to send this is the best time to try UrbanStems: DC’s newest (and maybe only) on demand flower delivery service. I spoke to the company’s co-founder Jeff Sheely to learn a bit more on his novel (and cheap and fun) way to send beautiful flowers for every occasion. But ESPECIALLY for Valentines Day because UrbanStems is offering BYT readers $5 off your arrangement (down to $30 from $35) this week with the code BYT5. So even if you don’t believe in sending flowers, I bet you believe in getting an amazing deal.


What’s the difference between “on demand” flower delivery service and just flower delivery service?

As anyone who has sent flowers to a loved one is painfully aware, these services are generally known for a few things: a confusing process, high prices, limited choice in delivery times, and rush fees (“Oh, you wanted that delivered in the morning? That’ll be an extra $20.” Sound familiar?)

E-commerce has changed the way our generation does business — we download albums instantly from iTunes, order shoes for next day delivery on Zappos, or call an Uber black car to our door to impress a lady. We expect a quality product, a flawless interface, and convenience. The flowery delivery service is a 100-year-old model that doesn’t serve its customers. We think we can do better.

Our model is simple: order it now, and we’ll have it there within an hour or two. Or schedule it for a future delivery, and we’ll get it there when you need it. That’s all there is to it. Once your flowers arrive, we’ll snap a photo and text it to you as confirmation – because wouldn’t it be nice to know your order arrived as promised? Oh, and we never charge a dime for delivery, either on demand or scheduled.

What new technologies will UrbanStems incorporate into its service?

Making someone’s day shouldn’t have to wait, so we’re taking advantage of new technologies throughout our process to get fresh Stems in your recipient’s hands as quickly as possible.

We carefully select our flowers from farms in Ecuador and Colombia, where they are grown to be extra fresh and long-lasting. After their flight to DC, we outfit the bouquets with special hydration packs that keep them fresh until you can get them into a vase.

When it’s time to send them out, we have partnered with Urban Delivery (another local DC startup) to deliver your bouquet via ultra fast and environmentally friendly bike messengers.

We’re even more proud of our technology. We hate long, confusing check out systems, so we made a site where you can pick a bouquet, tell us where to send it (with a nice note, of course!) and pay for it all on one page. It shouldn’t take you any more than two minutes to make someone’s day and get right back to BYT!


Why does the flower delivery service, as it currently stands, suck so much?

How much time do you have? But seriously, flower delivery is a really tricky business that traditionally involves a lot of steps (customer orders online/by phone, order is sent to the nearest florist who has to try their best to recreate what was ordered, bouquet is sent out for delivery, where it hopefully doesn’t sit outside too long, etc).

You can get some absolutely stunning arrangements this way, but there are so many costs built into the system that it doesn’t take long for a dozen roses to cost 90 bucks.  So you’ll usually pay a lot and can never really be sure when they’ll arrive or if they will be exactly what you ordered. You’re much better off visiting a florist yourself, but of course that’s not always affordable or practical, especially if you don’t live in the same place as your recipient.

What do you hope to provide your users with that they probably aren’t finding anywhere else?

Curated Selection – With three hand-picked bouquets (including exclusive seasonal mixes you won’t find anywhere else), we do the hard work for you. You just have to choose your favorite and send them on their way!

Ease of Use – A few clicks and you’re done. Why hasn’t it always been this way?

Transparency – No more wondering where your gift is – we deliver it right away and then send you a picture of what was sent and when.

And most of all, Price – At just $35 (including delivery!) we want you to be able to order flowers for Valentine’s Day or a birthday, but also for no reason on a random Tuesday.

What finally made you decide to step up and change the way things are being done with flower delivery?

The original idea for UrbanStems came about when Ajay was in a long-distance relationship and – dutiful boyfriend that he was – often sent flowers for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, or just because. He tried all of the major outlets, but always ended up frustrated with the high prices, confusing websites, unreliable delivery and often underwhelming quality of the bouquets.

One Valentine’s Day, after several hours spent in customer service hell, one miffed girlfriend, and one severely beat up looking flower arrangement, he and Jeff decided enough was enough and that they needed to figure out why sending flowers was such an awful experience and what they could do about it.

I know that UrbanStems will send a picture confirmation that your flowers have been delivered—Will this confirmation, by any chance, include a reaction shot of the recipient?

Sometimes. If your recipient is cool with it, the messenger will ask to take their reaction. We’re still working out whether we think it’s cool or creepy, and we’ll experiment with different ways to do it as we grow.

Why should more people start sending flowers?

They’re awesome! OK this is not what you might expect coming from two guys (btw, you should have seen us in our first flower arranging class!), but flowers are amazing. They make people irrationally happy. They make rooms look more beautiful. They don’t become another piece of clutter you have to schlep around when you move apartments every year (or is that just me?)

Bottom line, they make people happy. And you can never get enough of that.


Why should people use UrbanStems this Valentines Day (and beyond)?

Most flower shops raise prices on Valentines Day because, as you would expect, the cost of flowers goes up with the skyrocketing demand. Yes, our flower costs are also much higher on V-Day. But we like you.  And we’re not here to gouge you.  In fact, if you use the discount code BYT5, we’ll take our normal $35 price down to $30. We may lose money on you, but we’ll be damn happy making your special someone’s day.

What does sending flowers on Valentines Day say to a person, or should people not read too much into it?

If you’re in a relationship, it’s a nice gesture. If you’re sending to a friend, one who perhaps isn’t in a relationship, it’s a REALLY nice gesture. Nothing makes someone smile more than an unexpected gift.

What kind of flowers will you be sending for the holiday?

We have mixed roses, which are of course standard V-Day fare. They will be beautiful and last a really long time. We’ve also got some great tulips – they have been cut at the optimal time and will open up beautifully.

But what we’re really excited about is our special Valentines Day bouquet. It’s a perfect combination of gorgeous flowers and a succulent plant that is sure to wow your special someone. If you’re up for trying something unexpected and unique this year, that’s definitely the way to go.

Serious question time: Can a person go wrong with sending flowers?

One summer in college Ajay once ordered flowers for a girl who had, unbeknownst to him, already broken up with him in her head. He even sent a personal friend to make the delivery.  It went poorly. Although it did give him the idea for UrbanStems. Now he has co-founded a flower company. Not sure who’s winning here.


To order flowers, go to the UrbanStems website.