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D.C. floral delivery service announces $1.5M seed round

District-based UrbanStems, a floral delivery service designed for "everyday gifting" of flowers, today announces a $1.5 million round of seed funding led by Middleland Capital, Sagamore Ventures, NextGen Angels and Greak Oaks Venture Capital. The raise comes on the heels of an expansion; in December 2014, the company opened and started operating an office in New York.

"We were aiming to raise $500,000," says UrbanStems cofounder Ajay Kori. "We ended up tripling that, so it took a little longer than we expected."

The new funds will be used to build out the company's marketing, technical and operations teams. "We've spent the last year building the best possible customer experience," says Jeff Sheely, who cofounded the company along with Kori. "Now we need to focus on traditional acquisition marketing."

UrbanStems currently employs 9 people full time. Sheely expects that number to grow to between 15 and 20 by the end of 2015. The company is looking to hire developers locally; later in the year, as UrbanStems rolls out operations in other, yet-to-be disclosed cities, the company will need operations managers in those locations.

UrbanStems differentiates itself from traditional florists by offering bouquets at fixed price points--$35, $45 and $55 plus tax—and offering free delivery. "We're more about everyday gifting and sending happiness," Sheely says, than, say, Bloompop, another floral delivery startup in the DC Tech ecosphere. "Bloompop does a great job with custom orders. They're going after a different market. We don't compete with them."

Though they are not disclosing financial details, Kori will say that UrbanStems has posted numbers that show "double digit, month over month growth."

And despite the allure of the Big Apple and other cities for potential rollouts, the pair is committed to staying in D.C. "The D.C. tech community has been so supportive," Kori says. "Our tech guys came up through iStrategyLabs. We want to be a part of [D.C. Tech] as it continues to grow."

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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