Poppy says ‘I do’ to new capital for digital booking, fulfillment of wedding flowers

Technology infiltrated many of the facets of wedding planning over the past decade, from registries to ring design to vendor organization. And rightly so — weddings, just in the United States, are a $76 billion industry.

Within that sector, Poppy is one of the startups smelling success with its proprietary technology for the booking and fulfillment of wedding flowers, a $5 billion opportunity in itself, according to Cameron Hardesty, founder and CEO of Poppy.

Cameron Hardesty, founder and CEO of Poppy

Cameron Hardesty, who is expecting her second child, is founder and CEO of Poppy. Image Credits: Poppy

Prior to starting Poppy, Hardesty gained executive merchandising experience at UrbanStems and trained under the chief floral designer of The White House. The company, with bases in Charlottesville, Virginia and San Francisco, provides couples with a personalized and transparent process for finding wedding flowers.

In addition to couples, Poppy’s digital platform brings together a network of floral designers and a number of family farms based in Latin America. The company also has an in-house team of floral consultants, coordinators and designers.

Florists use Poppy to create customized wedding floral proposals, with images, and provide on-demand pricing for couples. Then they can tap into the farm-direct supply chain for fulfillment and then ultimately create the design.

Growing like a weed

Since the company’s founding in 2019, Poppy has facilitated flowers for more than 3,000 weddings across 52 U.S. cities. Poppy targets customers spending $1,500 to $5,000 on flowers, which appeals to customers who were priced out of custom wedding flowers, Hardesty said. To put that in perspective, in 2022, couples spent, on average, $2,400 on wedding flowers.

At the end of 2020, Hardesty raised $2.2 million in seed funding. At the time, Poppy worked with 50 floral designers and was doing mainly direct-to-consumer business. Today, Poppy works with more than 600 floral designers and the DTC business line is just around 5% of its revenue, she said.

In terms of financial growth, the company has bookings and revenue. “Bookings translate into one-to-one to revenue for us because we actually have an upsell after the initial booking to sale so revenue lags because we book customers, on average about five to six months before we actually can recognize the revenue when we’re delivering,” Hardesty said. “Top line revenue from 2022 to 2023 is about 100% growth.”

Typically, about 2 million weddings occur each year. However, during the global pandemic, weddings were canceled or scaled down, and the wedding industry took a hit in which it hasn’t yet recovered, Hardesty said.

There is also what she calls the “engagement gap,” meaning that due to the pandemic, people who would have normally met in 2020, courted for a few years and then married in 2023, didn’t happen. Despite a continued slowdown in ring sales, some jewelers are saying 2024 and 2025 will be big years for engagements.

Poppy, wedding flowers

Poppy’s mobile platform for designing and ordering wedding flowers. Image Credits: Poppy

Blooming with new funding

Poppy is already seeing some of the activity. Over the past nine months, the company tripled its conversion rate for wedding floral sales.

“That put us on a very clear path to profitability,” Hardesty said.

That’s one reason Hardesty decided to go after additional capital. The company closed on $6.5 million in Series A funding in November. The round was led by Michigan Capital Network and included IDEA Fund Partners, Techstars, Angeles Investors, Riptide Ventures and Front Porch Ventures. The company raised $8.7 million in total, and post-money valuation from seed round to Series A increased 3.15x, Hardesty said.

She plans to invest the new capital into marketing and sales, rounding out Poppy’s leadership team, expanding into more states and product development. The company already has a major presence in New York, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, California and Texas.

“2024 is forecasted to be above the pre-COVID average for weddings, so we’re ready to pounce on it,” Hardesty said.

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