Stories of The Influencer Economy with Ryan Williams

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

 

 

 

 

Direct download: Farbod_Bloom_Nation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:34pm PST

Brad Feld is an author, blogger and he invests in early stage technology companies. In fact he has invested in over 1,000 companies between his Techstars accelerator, his Foundry Ground investment firm, and his own deals. He is our guest on The Influencer Economy podcast this week.

Imagine a world where the only media channels were TV, radio, print magazines, and newspapers. And if you were a start-up entrepreneur, you had to do P.R. in order to get someone's attention for an article or any media coverage. When Brad started his first company Feld Technologies in 1987, while an undergrad student at MIT in Cambridge, that was the world for Brad to gain any media coverage for his company.

This is one of the reasons why Brad was an early adopter for blogging back in 2004. In this episode Brad details his early motivations for blogging and writing on the web. In addition to his how and why he wrote his first book: Venture Deals.

We talk about how often people think too much about their goals and sometimes it's worth starting something to figure out if it's a good idea or bad idea. When he started Techstars with his 3 other co-founders he had no idea if it would work, but figured it was worth a shot. And at the very least he would make some new friends. We chat about how people need to experiment as start-up founders, bloggers, podcasters and sometimes when you don't reach your goals, another less obvious goal emerges which can lead you down the right path.

Brad and I both believe in the "Give Before You Get" model and helping people is all about giving in the system. And that oftentimes we meet people who are takers and over time you realize you spend less time with people who take. Often when Brad meets startup founders, he develops relationships with the founders in advance of investing. And he gives to founders before realizing if he'll invest in their ideas or not.

Brad also pursues 20% of his life where he allocates his days to random things. He'll do a fake VC Day or a fake CEO day where he does stuff that allows his universe to be open to different connections.

Brad's Blog Feld Thoughts: http://www.feld.com/
TechStars:  http://www.techstars.com/
Sqord:  https://www.sqord.com/
SXSW: http://www.sxsw.com/
Jeff Ullrich and Earwolf:  http://www.earwolf.com/person/jeff-ullrich/

Direct download: Brad_Feld_Techstars.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:44pm PST

This week Nerdist Industries President, Adam Rymer stops by the podcast. Adam runs the media company founded by pioneering Nerdist podcast host, Chris Hardwick.
 
In 2015 geeks and nerds are kings and queens of the internet and Nerdist Industries at the center of this geek cultural revolution. Everyone who watches a Nerdist video or listens to one of their podcasts has a geek passion, whether it playing Minecraft, watching the latest Batman movie, or attending ComicCon in full cosplay mode (costumes). 
 
Often on the internet, bullies and jerks can rule the comment sections of websites. And Nerdist works hard to avoid that type of fall-back. The focus of Nerdist is to avoid the lowest common denominator of the internet by not acting like a jerk. People who not only work at Nerdist but also their fans have ben bullied in the past. They get it. Nerdist embraces the positivity of being a geek.
 
Adam is a UPenn MBA with a focus on finance, and also went to Undergrad at Harvard. And now he runs business strategy and the company Nerdist. We live in an awesome world....
 
 
Adam on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/NoRymeNoReason
Nerdist's website:  http://nerdist.com/
 
Our website:  http://www.influencereconomy.com/
Direct download: Nerdist_Adam_Rymer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:08pm PST

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