In this episode of The Pivot: A series documenting the stories of tech startup founders who pivot their careers from another industry, I speak with Farbod Shoraka, founder of BloomNation a technology startup based in Los Angeles, which is similar to Etsy but for flowers.
Farbod is a reformed former investment banker who pivoted his career into launching his company, taking part in the Mucker Lab Accelerator and raising venture capital from firms like Andreesen Horowitz
Farbod changed careers after seeing a larger gap in the flower market. When working as a banker, he did a business deal in the flower industry, and he was shocked that the industry was so inefficient.
After talking to his Aunt Sharine, who was in the floral industry…He realized that he could solve a big problem in the industry that large companies like 1-800-Flowers were not adequately meeting.
With seed funding that came from a co-founder who was a world class poker player, Farbod and 3 friends jumped into the tech economy.
I hope some of what we discussed surrounding his "pivot" can help you, whether trying to pivot yourself, working with start-ups or already a start-up.
In less than three years, more than 2,500 florists in about 3,000 cities have signed up to use the site.
The company is a marketplace for local florists to list their labors of love -- and for consumers to purchase them directly from these designers. The emphasis is on local and handcrafted. Think of it as Etsy, but for flowers
I recently visited BloomNation’s new headquarters in Santa Monica to talk to Farbod, the CEO of the company. The space overlooks Third Street Promenade, bustling with shoppers and street performers. Inside though, it’s a picture of calm and playfulness. A ping pong table is the first thing you see walking in. There are flowers everywhere, not exactly a surprise.
And part of the conference area is laid with Astroturf. Farbod Shoraka said they did that to make people feel like they are outside while they are inside the office. To create a place where people can sit on the grass, have a conversation, to get their creative juices flowing. When we sat down to chat, I first asked Farbod to tell me more about him and his cofounders, and how they got the idea of BloomNation off the ground
What we learned:
How Farbod went to speak with local florists all around Los Angeles proving their idea out for Bloom Nation
How important it was Farbod to get feedback from his potential users before he built the product
How non-coders can launch an internet tech business
How the founders of BloomNation raised their initial funding from a poker match at the Commerce Casino
How a startup accelerator can help your startup