Sramana: Does this mean that you are hosting their websites and helping them move their presence to your hosted sites?
Farbod Shoraka: We want to partner with florists. We don’t just want to hand them a technology or a tool. We want to partner with them and help them grow their business. We give them tools that help them grow their revenue, not just through the marketplace where customers can discover these flower shops, but we are helping them optimize their own sites so they can convert more traffic and earn more revenue. We help them convert their email lists into new orders via customer retention. We are partnering with them and using that 10% to fuel the growth of the company, which means we have more resources to make these flower shops successful.
Sramana: Across the board, the business model is 10% of transactions?
Farbod Shoraka: Yes, exactly.
Sramana: What year did you start this?
Farbod Shoraka: We started in in the summer of 2011.
Sramana: You had a good idea of disrupting the online flower business. How did you go from idea to operations? Did you bootstrap the company?
Farbod Shoraka: I knew nothing about how to build a website or how to go about building this platform. A lot of it had to do with networking and talking to people. I partnered with two of my good friends who are now co-founders. We all decided to bootstrap the company with our own funds.
David was previously a professional poker player and I went to school with him at Berkeley. He was at business school when he decided to join BloomNation. Knowing that he was one of the best poker players in the world, and knowing that there was a poker tournament that day in Los Angeles, we put together a couple of thousand dollars and asked David to turn it into enough money for a developer to prototype BloomNation.com. We went to the tournament and stayed there all day while he played. Greg and I worked on the business model and the business plan in the cafeteria.
We were there from morning till night and David was still there. At midnight, he was on the final table and it came down to just him and one other player. He ended up winning the tournament and won $30,000. We were able to use that money to start BloomNation.com. A card tournament became a business that is disrupting the $4 billion dollar industry.
Sramana: Did any of you have any technical skills?
Farbod Shoraka: We had no technical skills. That is one of the main reasons we entered the tournament. We had to pay someone to build the first version. A lot of people can do the prototype themselves but we did not have that ability.