Bloomscape, an online garden center delivering houseplants directly to consumers from the greenhouse, got a $15 million Series B back in September 2020, bringing its total fundraising to $24 million. The company's founder and CEO Justin Mast grew up his parents large commercial greenhouses, which go back five generations, so going direct from the greenhouse to customers is something he's been thinking about for a long time.
"What changed recently is that my generation, millennials, we got into plants pretty heavily in the last three to five years," Mast says. "We're starting to settle down and move into that next stage of adulthood and plants have really become part of the center of that adult lifestyle."
A few years ago, he says demand for plants started going through the roof, but the way people buy plants hadn't changed in a long time — there wasn't a strong online presence for a plant retailer. And that's where Mast saw a big opportunity. The $24 million he's raised so far suggests he's right.
The company has gone through three rounds — a seed, Series A and a Series B. Each round, he says, was very different.
The seed round took place over a sequence of investments over six to eight months, starting with friends and family to get some cash to get going. He also tapped into the local Detroit and Michigan network of angels, where he found a lot of support. But to fill out the full seed round, he wanted a mix of local and coastal investors.
"We wanted to bring in some investors that really knew the direct-to-consumer model and a venture-backed approach," he says. "That took a while to pull together. People had a lot of big questions. At that point, it's really just betting on the entrepreneur and the vision. We didn't have a whole lot to show for ourselves at that point. But by the Series A we had a successful year to point to, very small team so still betting on a small team, but just a little more product-market fit to point to."
The Series B comes nearly three years into the business model showing significant growth year over year, and a team that's built out more.
Mast says to entrepreneurs who are going through their first early round raises that it's a lot messier than it appears when you read the headlines.
"Even when the round goes really well, you get a lot of Nos," he says. "Some of them are heartbreaking. When the story gets told, it all appears so neat and clean, like it just kind of came together."
Mast spoke with Dickinson Wright's Zan Nicolli at last year's Detroit Smart Business Dealmakers Conference about Mast's venture and the process of raising capital from investors. Hit play on the video above to catch the full discussion.