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How this Chicago company is reinventing an industry, and giving back at the same time

While more and more aspects of our lives go digital, there’s nothing that can replace a fresh bouquet of flowers delivered to your door. Unfortunately, this antiquated industry hasn’t changed much in the past fifty years. While online ordering was a big hurdle, florists are still charging huge markups and dealing with an average of 30 percent spoilage of their product.

One young Chicago entrepreneur knew it was time for some disruption, even if it meant getting in a bit of trouble along the way.

“We would hustle flowers outside of graduations and commencements all over Chicago,” Steven Dyme, CEO and founder of Flowers for Dreams, said. “We had some confrontations with security, tickets from police, but really it was just so bizarre to me that no one was [selling flowers] in tandem with a school — that no one was disrupting the flower industry.”

As Dyme spent more time selling flowers, and making a hefty profit at that, he abandoned plans to move to Israel and instead stayed close to home to develop his flower business, fused with a bit of technology and social good.

Florals + Tech

Dyme formed Flowers for Dreams with co-founder Joe Dickstein three years ago, and today the business offers handcrafted bouquets delivered to anyone in the Chicago area for free, the same day. Customers choose from six different bouquets, and each bouquet comes in three sizes. They start at $35, and that includes free delivery to most of the city of Chicago. If you want to send flowers to the burbs or a less central neighborhood, it’ll be $10 extra.
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The service is also available for weddings and events, and all packages are custom. Bouquets are crafted from local florals to create fresh, unique designs for every customer. Everything is sourced, designed, and delivered locally and 1/4 of net profits are donated to a local Charity of the Month. They’ve currently raised over $58,000 for local causes.

So how are they keeping prices low and still giving some of their profits to charity? They’ve developed a technology to improve logistics and maintain a seamless inventory system that almost entirely eliminates spoilage. They also don’t promise exact recipes for bouquets — they’re using similar products so that designers can stay on budget while creating beautiful, seasonal products.

Flowers for millennials

The flower startup has partnered with several local businesses that have very loyal followings — like Bang Bang Pie Shop, Stan’s Doughnuts, and FoxTrot — to help a more antiquated business transform for the Uber for everything generation. Dyme said the Chicago community has been incredibly receptive to the concept, and it’s the best headquarters for the business.

“Chicago is an amazing community,” Dyme said. “It can be really dog eat dog in other communities. Here, everyone has been extraordinarily helpful. The biggest reason we’ve grown so quickly is because we’ve done a lot of collaboration with local businesses.”

The company has raised a small round of funding, and plans to seek more funding soon, hopefully targeting a multi-million dollar round with a combination of venture capital and angel investment. They hope to expand into other major markets in the future.

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