Callia secures $6.4 million to go beyond flower delivery and fuel its North American expansion

After a year of significant growth, a Winnipeg-based startup Callia secured C$6.4 million in Series A funding to fuel the expansion of its flower delivery service and direct-to-consumer perishable goods logistics model.

Having successfully adapted to the produce market in Canada as a flower gift company capable of delivering perishable produce in some of the country’s harshest climates, Callia aims to strengthen its Canadian presence and s expand to the United States (US).

“We’re at a point where you start pouring a little more fuel on the fire.”
Catherine Metrycki, founder and CEO of Callia

“We’re at a point where you’re starting to pour a little more fuel on the fire,” Catherine Metrycki, founder and CEO of Callia, said in an interview. “This increase is really double, triple on the Canadian business. There are many opportunities for customer growth, particularly in Ontario and Quebec and a little in Alberta and British Columbia, but we are also taking advantage of this to enter the American market.

The startup’s Series A round, which closed in September, consisted of a combination of debt and equity. The round was backed by investors from across Canada, spanning four provinces: Montreal-based Brightspark Ventures led the way, while Toronto-based Golden Ventures and Halifax-based Sandpiper Ventures backed, the latter through her new fund focused on investing in women entrepreneurs. Saskatchewan-based Conexus Venture Capital, which led Callia’s C$1.1 million seed round in January, also reinvested in the round.

There was also secondary capital involved, which Callia did not include in that $6.4 million total. Callia declined to disclose how many or which previous investors were bought out. The new funding brings the startup’s total funding to date to approximately C$9.4 million.

Founded in 2016, Callia is an e-commerce startup that offers floral gifts. Metrycki described the company as “a very unique combination in e-commerce and direct-to-consumer selling.”

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“We accidentally ended up building a non-branded business, which I thought we were doing, but we ended up building a technology and logistics business, and I think that was really the backbone that this tower was lifted,” Metrycki said.

Callia was built in Winnipeg, which Metrycki described as “really, really cold, like one of the coldest places on the planet.”

“I don’t know who in their right mind would start a perishable flower delivery business when it’s literally minus 41 [degrees Celsius] in the winter,” she says.

Nonetheless, that’s exactly what Metrycki and Callia did, and the startup is stronger for it. “The reason it’s important is that we had this incredible stress test very early on,” she said, “in terms of, can you actually deliver flowers on a day like St. -Valentine minus 41, without using traditional e-commerce mechanisms?”

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According to Callia, the answer was yes, and that involved building its own end-to-end logistics infrastructure, which Metrycki said involved “an incredible amount” of investment to ensure it was able to offer. fast and reliable delivery under these conditions.

Today, Callia assembles its bouquets and controls its entire supply chain, which consists of warehouses, delivery drivers and the technology that connects these components and the customers in each of the cities it serves. .

“One of the things that we’ve inadvertently built is this ability to ensure flawless delivery of truly non-traditional e-commerce products,” Metrycki said. “What that’s created is this network of a hyper-local supply chain and delivery infrastructure that solves a very different niche than what your traditional third-party logistics would do.”

According to Metrycki, this gives the startup “a really interesting competitive edge.”

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“Over the past 12-18 months, we’ve had quite a significant growth,” the CEO told BetaKit.

Callia quadrupled sales growth and recorded strong customer retention numbers, achieving a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 91 and expanding to offer flower delivery in 63 Canadian cities, including all provinces .

“At Brightspark, we’ve seen tremendous success from e-commerce businesses challenging the status quo and focusing on exceptional customer experiences. That’s what Callia does with its unique approach to floral gifts,” said Sophie Forest, managing partner at Brightspark.

Forest, who joins Callia’s board as part of the round, added: “The industry is at the heart of the disruption, and we believe there are no better people than Catherine and her team. to realize this vision.

“One of the things we’ve inadvertently built is this ability to ensure flawless delivery of truly non-traditional e-commerce products.”
Catherine Metrycki, founder and CEO of Callia

Metrycki also sees potential in Callia’s local supply chain and delivery infrastructure, which she says “lends itself well to expansion into other verticals.”

Given this, the CEO said Callia plans to expand beyond flowers into new areas of gifts, which Callia intends to beta test over the next two months.

Regarding the impact of the pandemic on Callia’s growth, Metrycki said there were pros and cons; on the one hand, the startup saw tailwinds as people sought to gift flowers as alternatives to dinner parties and spa trips, and was forced to accelerate its tech development efforts.

At the same time, in addition to COVID-19 and cold climates, Callia has also been forced to deal with a pandemic global flower shortage.

“We are definitely still facing the replication of that,” Metrycki said. “We’re lucky because we can be tight with our inventory, we have a lot of systems in place, we’ve been able to mitigate a lot of that.”

To accelerate its growth, Callia plans to continue to develop its physical and technological infrastructure and expand its team of 65 employees with the addition of 20 more.

Image courtesy of Callia

Terisa K. Carn