Lana saw a gap in the floral market whilst searching for decent florists online, she knew most of the great ones she found were still unknown to most, and the big online options were sending under par products and offering horrible to non-existent customer support and she wanted to change that. She wanted to build something that simplified this discovery and its purchasing process.
Lana Elie is the Founder & CEO of Floom and this is her story so far.
Hi Lana, thanks for agreeing to share your story on YHP. Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I was born in Paris, France in the late 80s. I never went to university and actually started working at age 16, which, when I was working in the intensely competitive creative industries in London during my early twenties, I didn't see as giving me an edge. Instead, I used to always dread the question: 'so where did you go?’ Looking back now though, perhaps it has something which has shaped both me as a person and my business in a positive way.
How did the idea for Floom come about?
I was inspired to set it up after having spent so many wasted hours looking for florists when I sent flowers in the past, and was also frustrated that most of the great ones were still unknown to most, and the big online options were sending under par products and offering horrible to non-existent customer support.
I wanted to build something that simplified this discovery and purchasing process, but without just building another online floristry website. I knew it needed to be built around these independents and their skills, which is where the value in the product really comes to life.
I came from a career in digital content production in house at Burberry, and later for some award-winning agencies. The jump to Floom from that was quite natural in that regard, as I applied what I'd learned in those roles to my lifelong love of flowers, twinned with frustration that the floral industry didn't really have a beautifully curated, easy to use service that brought together all the amazing florists operating under the radar of most people.
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
I've been blessed with relatively smooth sailing to date - everyone who I needed to 'get' it has done - from open-minded investors to the great team I now have working with me.
That said, there's always going to be things that go wrong, with team members, orders, the website, the flowers... I would say that overcoming these issues are set by having risk strategies in place: for instance with regards to funding, I knew my idea inside out but I also spent months perfecting a viable business plan/model that gave both my investors and I the confidence to take things forward, and how to make minor changes when needed.
What is Floom? And what are you trying to solve with it?
I wanted to build something that simplified the florist discovery and purchasing process, but without just building another online floristry website.
What advices would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their start-ups?
• Have an exceptional business plan and model - even if it changes (which it likely will) - you'll have that vision concreted in that document.
• Get used to rejection, but don't take it personally. Not everyone will agree with your idea, and that's fine. Get smart on what to take as feedback and what to ignore.
• Have a professionally designed deck. Visualising my idea and plan really helped meeting with investors.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
It was exhausting, but incredibly fulfilling at the same time.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Ensuring consistently excellent customer service has been key in an industry renowned for unreliability and inconsistency, as well as creating great content which engages consumers as much as it is beneficial for SEO. Social has always been and always will be an integral part of Floom as well, and ensuring we stay up to date with the latest trends and developments is key as we've found new, innovative ways to interact with our customers.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
When Floom got its first sale, all the months of planning, progress, at times anguish, and fatigue, were completely worth it. Even now, it still probably just about ranks as my proudest moment since starting the business.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Floom team for 2018?
Continued international growth across the UK and US
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Depending on the level of your ambition, I would say that a great idea is nothing without a really impressive business plan/model, even if that plan changes in the future, nothing will help you strengthen your vision than that document. Luckily, if you've come up with the idea then you've achieved that rarest of things. Don't be afraid to tell people about it, that’s the best thing you can do for the idea to grow in the right direction.