“Flowers appear throughout a person’s life – when a child is born, we send flowers to congratulate the new parents; we send flowers during graduations, birthdays, proposals, marriages, anniversaries and even funerals,” explains Penny Choo, co-founder of BloomThis. “Our tagline reads ‘Creating Moments’ and that is exactly what we want to do: To exist in every part of a person’s life, creating happy moments.”
While traditional florists have been around for as long as anyone can remember, Penny says she noticed a gap in the industry. “It was very fragmented and lacked innovation. This led us to the idea of digitising the floral industry to be more convenient for people to send and receive flowers.”
Established in 2015 with her husband Giden Lim, the company rapidly grew to become the household name that it is today. But this is not without challenges throughout the years. “Different stages of our growth faced different challenges. First it was financial, and then it was manpower planning and so on. Every issue we face then becomes the biggest challenge to date. Just as we thought we’ve settled one issue, another one arises that there isn’t time to pat ourselves on the back!” Penny says.
When asked about organisations she looks up to and wishes to emulate, she names a few household brands without hesitation. “McDonald’s and Starbucks! I admire their ability to maintain such quality and standards of procedure despite growing to be such large multinational corporations!”
BloomThis’s popularity boomed after TechInAsia, the world’s largest English-language technology media company that focuses on Asia, named BloomThis number three on the top 10 Malaysian startups to watch in 2018. “There were a lot of other worthy startups so it was an honour to be placed on that list. We see this as an encouragement to everyone in the company for all the hard work they’ve put in. These little things keep us going every day!” says Penny.
“Success at BloomThis is defined by the impact we make on people’s lives. We ask ourselves how we can give back to the society and how to use our business to help others. This is why come October each year, we take part in the Pink October campaign where a percentage of our sales proceeds is donated to the National Cancer Society of Malaysia. We’ve also partnered with Marie Claire and came up with a special collection with proceeds going to Tenaganita, an NGO that protects and promotes the rights of women, migrants and refugees.”
Her advice to young aspiring Malaysian entrepreneurs? “The world of entrepreneurship is very tough so it’s important to understand why you do what you do and keep up the energy, passion and enthusiasm. Don’t lose sight of why you started and don’t be afraid to try!”
50 SHADES OF SUCCESS
In an industry that is feminine by nature, it’s interesting to note that 50Gram was founded by a pair of brothers. Spring Wong along with his brother, Titus founded the company in 2016 but the idea came into its infancy a year earlier when shopping for flowers for Mother’s Day.
“I realised the trouble it took people just to get a bouquet of flowers. The bouquet designs that were available were often limited too,” Spring recalls the inconvenience that birthed the idea of 50Gram.
“We intended to modernise the industry when we first started because we felt the younger generation saw the practice of flower giving as outdated. We wanted to make it more suitable and attractive to them,” he explains the idea behind the establishment of the modern florist.
For any organisation to reach its full potential, it’s important for everyone to be on the same page. This was one of the main challenges 50Gram faced, aligning the mindset of its staff to match the company’s vision that is to become a household name in Malaysia and bring happiness to people. “In 20, 30 years, we want people to look back on our products and recall the sweet memories they brought to them,” Spring remarks.
“Apart from that, responding to a large number of customers with a small workforce proved to be a challenge. However, the feedback we received from our customers has to be the biggest payoff where we are able to determine the market demands and create better products to match them. One of our biggest challenges here turned out to have the most positive impact on our organisation!” the entrepreneur continues.
One mistake Spring sees many entrepreneurs make is in the execution of plans. “Most people have perfect planning but fail when it comes to execution. I’d also ask every young entrepreneur to be farsighted and have strong vision. Most importantly, know how to be in the cycle of learning, unlearning and relearning.”
With the floral industry constantly changing, we ask Spring how he sees the future of the floral industry. His response? “With the help of e-commerce, I can see the industry continuing to grow in the near future. Many hobbyists are venturing into setting up their own online stores. The internet has really broken the barriers of entry into the industry and this of course results in increased competition. We take it positively as this will drive current players to up their game and produce better goods and services,” Spring concludes.
Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash