Sramana: How do you validate and curate florists in a scalable manner?
Farbod Shoraka: We started to use some of our funds to hire a sales team that will help us decide on who to partner with. It is not an automated process. In the end, it creates a lot of value. For BloomNation’s marketplace, it is a comparative advantage. Our customers know they deal with the best florists in the country if they deal with BloomNation.
Sramana: What about customer acquisition? What are you primary paths?
Farbod Shoraka: We don’t have any paid acquisition channels. It is all about organic or low-cost acquisition channels. By partnering with florists, we are helping them gain customers through local channels. We help their local sites get to the top of organic search results as well. Our customer retention rate is also very high.
Sramana: Have you raised additional funds?
Farbod Shoraka: We are in conversations to raise our second round. Our current investors have seen our growth and we are optimistic about another round of financing to fuel further growth. We have seen 20% to 30% month-over-month growth and our revenues have grown 10 times over our the previous year.
Sramana: How big is your team?
Farbod Shoraka: Currently, we have 15 employees. They are comprised of an engineering team, a customer support team, operations, and a sales team.
Sramana: What do you need to continue to scale this company?
Farbod Shoraka: We need funds to direct towards engineering. That will help us further scale the company. We also need more sales people to get the word out to the flower shops. They need help understanding online ordering for their flower shops.
Sramana: I assume there is a substantial amount of paid search that goes on in this industry?
Farbod Shoraka: There is. We are always testing customer acquisition strategies on a small scale, but right now we are still focused on alternative methods of customer acquisition. We will use the channels that give us the highest ROI.
Sramana: Any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs?
Farbod Shoraka: When we started, we were very naïve. We did not know how to run and start a business. That was the biggest benefit of starting this company. It did not restrict my mind when it came to creating a solution. I did not have enough of a background to decide that something would not work. I was able to be creative and inspired. I did not have to be dragged down by negative thoughts. We just built the business step by step. My advice is to think of things at a small scale. Don’t think of things that have tried and failed. Focus on why things can work.
Sramana: Very good advice. Thank you for sharing your story and best of luck as you continue building BloomNation.