Michael Chapin | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Michael Chapin

Background:  

Essex native Michael Chapin founded old Saybrook-based From You Flowers in 2002, when he was 22 years old. At the time, Chapin's employer was being acquired by FTD, but he managed to get the backing of a major client to start From You Flowers with four employees.

Today, From You Flowers has grown to 400 employees, and revenue this year is expected to rise to $225 million, up 30 percent from last year, Chapin said. He sold the majority stake in 2011 to Tenth Avenue Holdings, a New York-based private equity firm

The Mistake:

Not getting into data and analytics sooner. We really should have gotten into it in 2005 or 2006. We didn’t until 2011, but now every aspect is data-driven. A brilliant Princeton grad named Spencer Lucian showed me what we could be doing with a real database. He’s was right, of course.

Before that we were just blasting orders out the door but not really listening to what our customers wanted. We were doing OK, but not like we are now. 2011 was the start of our growth run.

As you’re using data, keep your value proposition in mind.

The Lesson:

Listen to smart people and find good people that you want to be with on a consistent basis. [And] as you’re using data, keep your value proposition in mind. Ours is value and same-day delivery.

Data helps you plan, and that was one of the reasons we did so well this Valentine’s Day. It took us an entire year to plan for it. We had to prep the warehouses. We had to have our Internet strengthened. Our phone system had to be ready. We were taking 36 calls per second.

Tuesday is difficult logistically to deliver flowers, so that added to the challenge. With the day falling out on Tuesday this year, the men shoppers waited to the last minute, thinking in the previous week that they had a whole other week—when they didn’t.

We love all our customers, even the difficult ones. We’re growing strongly in a very competitive environment and we’re mining our data to enable that and manage it.

Follow From You Flowers on Twitter at @FromYouFlowers.

Photo courtesy of Michael Chapin.

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