Flower delivery startup UrbanStems Inc.’s former head of products is aiming to carve out a piece of the floral market for herself with her new venture, wedding flower startup Poppy . The company, founded in July as a digital operation with a small staff, is a down payment on what Cameron Hardesty ultimately envisions to be a managed marketplace in which wedding flower shoppers are walked through the process of picking out their flowers and then paired with florists and designers who are ready and willing to handle the physical handling and delivery. That vision is complete with a machine-learning process that can help interested customers decide what they want and why, and also walk them through the potential costs, learning what they want on the fly. Then Poppy delivers an operating plan, product sheet and “recipe” to the florist, while handling the billing and payment. The goal is to take customer acquisition off of the florists’ and designers’ plates. Next up is a roadmap of tech-enabled features, such as machine-learning tools and a catalogue of flowers and costs to help consumers with their choice and to reduce the headaches and work required by the florist on the other end. Hardesty is also targeting wedding planners and professionals who would be potential sources of repeat business. Hardesty hopes that independent operators — 60% of floral businesses are operated by a single owner with no employees — will welcome being able to focus on the flowers while Poppy brings them the business. The overall floral industry has revenue of about $8 billion, according to The Florist Guide. “What I want to build is a company that gets to $100 million in revenue. I want us to be nationwide. In 2020, we are focused on D.C. but we actually already have […]