How Ryan Bacher Launched NetFlorist, SA’s largest online gifting company, by Accident

Ryan Bacher studied and completed a Bachelor of Arts and Law Degree at Wits in 1994. He worked for the Club Med Group in the Caribbean for a few years and then joined the NetActive Internet group where he worked in marketing and sales for 2 years.

Together with Lawrence Brick and Jonathan Hackner; he launched NetFlorist on Valentine’s day in 1999 and has been in the company ever since.

“Our plan was to run the site for one day to prove that we could do it. And then we got R30 000 worth of orders. That was the equivalent of a whole month’s revenue at a flower shop.”

As Managing Director, Ryan is responsible for all day-to-day operations and strategy of the company.

He is the co-founder of the South African Forum for Etailers and sits on the board of the Johannesburg chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization.

The founders of NetFlorist had no intention of starting an online floral and gifting company – they just wanted to prove to Makro that they could design and run an e-commerce site. But Valentine’s day came and went, and the ‘test’ site did unbelievably well, so they didn’t shut it off.

“What’s really crazy is that people were paying for us to provide a service. We had no stock and knew nothing about flowers. We just sent the orders to a flower shop in Sandton,” says Ryan Bacher.

Commenting on how the team was able to make the business work, Ryan said “We knew our best bet was to get the website out, hack it, and keep changing it. We would learn more from the site being out there in the market than we could ever learn in-house, trying to develop a perfect product. It was basically always a work in progress.”

Even though Netflorist was founded by accident, it is now South Africa’s oldest online store and gets at least 730,000 orders every year.

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