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mark evans

KeepHerHappy's Dan Fallak, left, and Shaun McQuaker

One of the most painful moments in many men's lives is forgetting about a special occasion involving a partner, such as a birthday, anniversary or Valentine's Day.

The wave of sweat-inducing panic and the fear of being sent to the proverbial doghouse is a nightmarish experience that no one wants to go through.

That's why a new online service called KeepHerHappy could be the digital "insurance policy" to help men avoid the anguish of letting a major event for a significant other happen with nothing in hand to acknowledge it.

KeepHerHappy offers a simple proposition: For a current $99 annually, someone can buy a flower "subscription" for three special occasions: a birthday, anniversary and Valentine's Day.

Rather than find themselves desperately scrambling at the last minute to find a bouquet, men can let KeepHerHappy eliminate the stress by advance handling of the purchase and delivery.

Dan Fallak, co-founder of the Ottawa-based startup, said the idea popped up several years ago, but involved greeting cards. A combination of logistical problems and the arrival of children put the idea on the back burner.

But last February, Mr. Fallak and his business partner, Shaun McQuaker, decided to resurrect the idea though they opted to sell flowers because it meant they would not have to keep any inventory.

In addition to the scheduling service, one of the other key features of the site is simplicity. For each of the three occasions, it offers three different flower (and in one case chocolate) arrangement options.

"We thought about the things we didn't like about on-line florists," Mr. Fallak said. "They are very complicated – it can be a four, five, or six-step process to order. Then, they hit you up before you check out with add-ons. We are trying to streamline the process as best we can. We are trying to make it more convenient. Yes, we are selling flowers but also peace of mind and convenience."

After placing an order, customers receive an e-mail two weeks before each delivery, reminding them that they have purchased flowers and offering an opportunity to confirm the delivery address. Just as important, it makes sure the person receiving the flowers is still in the relationship – there would be nothing worse than sending flowers to an ex-wife or former girlfriend by mistake.

After bootstrapping the company, Mr. Fallak and Mr. McQuaker, who both have full-time jobs – Mr. Fallak in a government marketing position and Mr. McQuaker as a Web developer for a high-tech company –recently teamed up with CanaFlora, one of the fastest-growing online florists in Canada.

"I talked to the CEO, and we worked together over the past six to eight weeks on what kind of deal we could get on volume," Mr. Fallak said.

"We have an agreement in place with Canaflora that allows us to leverage their infrastructure, logistics, products and services, and we are negotiating a possible partnership."

Though the site might seem to ignore non-traditional relationships, Mr. Fallak said, "obviously, the site's tone and our marketing is targeted at a niche market of busy men, and having 'her' in our name can make it seem like we are excluding some segments of the population, but of course we encourage anyone who needs flowers on a schedule to use KeepHerHappy."

He also said he is working on another subscription-based flower service that "would be designed in a tone and targeted to a much wider audience than the niche focus of KeepHerHappy. We want to learn from KeepHerHappy and refine the process before we roll this out."

Since the launch last week, Mr. Fallak said reception has been enthusiastic. With the possibility of helping men across the country, he said the biggest challenge is getting the word out.

"We aren't the typical startup guys," Mr. Fallak said. "This is our first startup, so we are having to overcome credibility problems because no one has heard of us, but everyone has to start somewhere. We have hit a good idea, and if we execute properly, it could be something."

Special to The Globe and Mail

An earlier online version of this story incorrectly described the agreement currently in place between KeepHerHappy and Canaflora. This online version has been corrected.

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

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