Bloomscape CEO Justin Mast joins Yahoo Finance's On The Move panel to discuss the surge in plant purchases amid the pandemic.
ADAM SHAPIRO: A lot of people as lockdowns were taking place went and got pets, but you don't have to walk a houseplant. So let's bring back to the stream Justin Mast. He is the CEO of Bloomscape, which is revolutionizing the way that a lot of us get houseplants. It's good to have you back, Justin.
I've just got to share a quick funny story with you. I was talking to some friends who were wondering if all of the little plants that people had at their offices which are now probably dead because they haven't been watered, if you're going to face a boom once people start going back to the office. So what are you seeing in the business because it's essentially online order-your-plant, get-it-delivered kind of business?
JUSTIN MAST: That's right. Yeah, I think it'll be interesting. I mean, I think people will probably start moving back to the office a lot slower than they moved out of the office and into home offices. So I don't know if we'll see a all-at-once boom like we did in helping people get their home offices set up with plants.
JULIE HYMAN: Justin, it seems like there's also been this movement for exotic plants in particular. There were some recent press about, you know, sort of swapping and trading of cuttings of exotic plants so that you could grow these amazing rare plants. Is that something you guys are seeing, and it-- are there any challenges in getting supply of those types of plants?
JUSTIN MAST: Yeah, we are seeing this. I mean, I think as you know there's this new generation of gardeners and plant parents coming up. And I think as people get more experienced, people are looking for something new and sort of interesting to get into. So, you know, I know this past spring our big surprise hit was we had a pineapple plant that we offered that we just could not keep in stock. So, yeah, we are definitely seeing this too.
- Justin, just taking a look at Bloomscape. I know you're one of several companies that work within this e-commerce live plant delivery space. I mean, I'm thinking about, like, The Sill, Amazon even also delivering live plants. So how do you differentiate yourself when a lot of these companies are offering similar breeds of plants and similar shipping speeds?
JUSTIN MAST: Yeah, I mean our big vision is to reinvent the garden center for this new generation of gardeners. So we started with indoor plants. I think the thing that made us unique coming out of the gate was we had designed a process where we could ship fully grown-- like five, six foot tall-- potted plants that are living room ready to any ZIP code in the US 12 months out of the year. And since then, we've really built around that. I think our product has stood out. You know, that unique supply chain that we've built has allowed us to ship larger plants, higher quality plants, and this coming spring we'll be offering outdoor plants as well.
- And, Justin, I know you recently announced the acquisition of Vera, which is that plant care app-- provides content, troubleshooting. How big is this industry going to get? When you think about total addressable market, how big are we talking here? What is your scope?
JUSTIN MAST: I mean, retail lawn and garden is over a $50 billion industry, and it's one of, I would say, the last major retail categories to see a major digital disruption. But one of the things we learned right when we launched is that when we can help people feel confident with their ability to care for their plants, that they like gardening. They like spending time with their plants a whole lot more. We see that as a good thing.
And so, you know, early on in the launch of the company, we created this program called Plant Mom, where I recruited my actual mom to help our customers with plant tips. And-- but that's obviously not a very scalable business strategy. Our customer base is a lot bigger now, and so we did a lot of research. And we've been really looking for a way to bring that kind of personalized, when-you-need-it plant care support to our customers. We saw huge opportunity by bringing our Grow-How together with the Vera plant app.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Justin, just want to let everyone know-- ordering online. I did order, before you were around, a small little gem boxwood, which is outdoors and huge now.
JUSTIN MAST: Nice.
ADAM SHAPIRO: So I want to have you back when you start doing that kind of delivery because I got some work I've got to do out on the terrace. I just want to thank you once again. Justin is the CEO of Bloomscape, and we look forward to having you back. Justin Mast joining us from Detroit.