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    SOUTH AMERICA - Flower Power

    Fall 2013

    Marcia Faye

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    Photo: Michael Goss

    As co-founders of Global Petals, Parth Kapadia (CE '13) and his business partner, Michael Lyons, have nothing against making time to stop and smell the roses, literally. But for the past two years, they have made their top priorities running their international floral enterprise and establishing its unique cross-continental supply chain.

    Inspired by his 2011 study-abroad experience living with an Ecuadorian rose farmer, Lyons, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign business alumnus, contacted Kapadia to discuss the idea for a global online floral marketplace. Kapadia was intrigued but not surprised, noting that he and Lyons have always been big thinkers. When they were students at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Ill., they assembled a mock stock portfolio that included shares of Apple. Although the joint portfolio never came to fruition, Lyons and Kapadia individually purchased Apple shares along with other equities. As the market rebounded, they obtained a windfall that provided their initial investment for Global Petals.

    Global Petals works with the family-owned flower farm RG Flowers to provide florists with high-quality roses and filler plants.
    Photo: Global Petals

    With Global Petals, Kapadia and Lyons envisioned a company driven by design and distinguished by transparency, technology, and top-notch customer service. Kapadia says that the nature of the floral market often makes obtaining products stressful and unpredictable. By eliminating key problem variables, the company ultimately helps to augment design.

    "We recognized that florists are designers first and business individuals second," he says. "The buying process should be easy, reliable, and people-focused."

    A former Kern Innovation and Entrepreneurship Academy Scholar, Kapadia received a grant from IIT in early 2012 that allowed Lyons and him to travel together to Ecuador to meet with farmers, trade organizations, and logistics companies. The trip helped the pair to devise a one-of-a-kind technological infrastructure to move flowers across the globe.

    "Global Petals is able to fulfill an order within four to five business days. We contact our specific premium-quality farm, which hand selects and cuts the flowers, then prepares them for shipping to the florists. By working directly with the grower and through our technology, we are able to deliver roses that last two to four weeks long, have heads the size of your palm, and promise reliable consistency," Kapadia explains.

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