We’ve recently fallen in love with the gifting app bleems, and since first hearing about it, we’ve been using the app to send all manner of flowers, chocolates and other gifts. It is easy to use, with an excellently broad range of items, that we wanted to find out more about this local company and the business brains behind it.
We sat down with co-founders Sulaiman Al Tarrah and Abdullah Alkhuzam to discuss how bleems came about and what the future holds in store for this blooming business.
The entrepreneurial twosome first met in Statistics class at Kuwait University, although Sulaiman had heard of Abdullah before they had actually met. From there they both went on to an MBA in Portsmouth, England, Abdullah starting his program first and Sulaiman graduating in 2010.
“Studying abroad is a collection of experiences,” says Sulaiman and they both agree that this breadth of experience has shown them an appreciation for the different ways in which people approach the same problem. This has expanded their thought processes and benefits them in business through being open to a range of business ideas, open to change and development, and open to embracing technology.
After international study, they returned to Kuwait and both ended up in the financial sector, investment banking being their game. They continued to talk to each other about developing their business ideas. Sulaiman was the first to jump the corporate ship in 2015, ploughing all his time and effort into their company 965 Flowers before Abdullah joined him one year later as agreed.
“Entrepreneurship is all about taking the risk,” states Sulaiman. “We were thirsty for success.”
Some of you may have been in Kuwait long enough to remember 965 flowers. This was the first business that the two men established. It was Abdullah’s 2006 experience of owning a flower shop that spawned the idea behind flowers as a product to sell.
The challenges of being a bricks and mortar vendor, and listening to the demands of clients, showed him that there needed to be an easier way to access a variety of products without one shop stocking absolutely everything. It was important to become the market. It is a simple model; list all the vendors and their products and link them up to customers via a website or application.
The possibility for expansion using this model is endless, the only controls being that the vendors need to meet the bleems standard. Currently the minimal selection criteria to be listed is: currently operating with a full and valid license, have more than 15 products to offer, items ranging in price but in the neighborhood of 30-40KD, and have their own system for delivery.
“To be honest, in Kuwait, the flower business and the owners of the flower shops are very talented. We are lucky to have started our business here,” states Abdullah and Sulaiman agrees. “When we travel to other countries they look up to Kuwait. When it comes to flowers, these shops are very amazing.”
Because the standards here in Kuwait are so high, 965 Flowers performed incredibly well and the two partners looked into expansion. The only thing that made it a challenge was the name “965” which is the area code for Kuwait. They swiftly changed the name to “bleems”, similar to “blooms” a term for flowers, and expanded into other countries.
bleems agreements now currently exist in Bahrain, Saudi and the UAE. This means that you can order a high quality, fresh bouquet of premium flowers easily and have it delivered with confidence and on time to friends, family and colleagues in these places. Oman is next in their sights and in time, why not the entire North Africa!
The way in which bleems intends to do this is simple. The challenge is to bring sending flowers, confections and gifts into the lifestyle of customers. What does this mean, exactly?
Through social media, paradoxically the thing that is supposed to bind us closer, we have become even more distant than ever before. It used to be hard copy letters, cards and gifts that were sent often between people, not just for occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, but for day to day communication; now we just “like and comment”.
It is the former behavior that bleems wants us to get back to again. Say “thank you” with chocolates for a friend who picked up your kids from school, send a bouquet of flowers because “I saw these and thought you’d like them”, send a tea service because “I heard you were having your mother over for lunch and these would look great in your living room”…yes you can get fine bone china from bleems! Check out the “Gifts” category which itself is filtered into nine sections.
Using the app, you can see that bleems is beautifully organized. There are a number of ways in which they have categorized flowers, gifts, confection and combination packages. This is to ensure you get every conceivable chance to find the perfect gifting item which matches the character of the person for whom you are shopping.
You can shop by occasion, filter by price, filter by when the items can be delivered, you can shop for same day delivery or schedule all the dates you definitely don’t want to forget throughout the year.
Sulaiman summarizes, “Ultimately what we are trying to do is provide our customers with the best user experience with the best user interface for them to have an outstanding journey for their gifting experience.” Research shows that for the bleems website, customers are spending six to seven minutes carefully checking the offerings, which is an astounding statistic.
Even though the website and app are both extremely easy to use, it is these interfaces that the team continues to improve on. But what is there to fix? It is more about building a better service, rather than fixing any issues it seems. The use of algorithms to streamline the choices for the user, a little like Netflix, should make the customer engagement even more efficient through targeted offerings.
Currently the measurements of your chosen flowers allow you to guess how the whole creation looks, but in the future the use of Augmented Reality will allow you to see exactly how the bouquets and gifts would appear in place in your chosen environment. There are endless possibilities for bleems that, because of their educational backgrounds and the support of each other as partners, they are open to exploring.
Beyond each other, the support of family has been tantamount to their success. Both married and with children it is this familial responsibility that has kept and keeps Sulaiman and Abdullah going. Another surprising fact? The two men, married sisters! Both sisters are professional women with careers of their own as well as being mothers. They understand what it means to have their husbands work so hard towards a shared goal. The relationship between the two men developed so steadily it has a very deep and therefore strong foundation. They have been friends for years, business partners, and their families are now integrated.
“This guy is an exception,” Abdullah ventures, “He started as a colleague, then he became my partner, then a family member. Honestly, we can understand each other more.” Sulaiman adds, “It keeps us strong, because there is a bond.”
It has always been Abdullah’s dream to build a company for his children, so this may become a family business in the future as there are daughters and sons to pass the business on to. If not bleems, then the holding company at least will continue with perhaps another venture.
No doubt Sulaiman and Abdullah will take this decision together and the final outcome will be the success that they want it to be, as it was with 965 Flowers, and now is, with the international bleems.
Bazaar decided to test the partners and see how well they know each other by answering questions as if they were the other person. We have to say Abdullah performed a little better than Sulaiman, but that may be because Abdullah has recently changed his “What’s your favorite hot drink” from latte to iced coffee. In Winter! Check out the video on bazaar.town to see more on how they both answered.
Download the bleems app from the iPhone AppStore, and for Android find it on Google Play. Follow @bleems on Instagram to see more of what’s on offer, or to shop the collection online go to www.bleems.com