How I created a blooming business selling flowers online

Lana Elie launched her online marketplace, Floom, in March 2016. Now it sells to customers in 134 countries, employs a staff of 14, and expects turnover to hit £5m this year.

936_MW_P37_MM_Floom_01

Lana Elie grew up in many different countries before moving to London, says Matthew Caines in The Daily Telegraph. As old friends gotmarried and had birthdays,Elie would send them flowers, but "the picture rarely matched the end product or the bouquet would justget chucked over a wall". So Elie decided to launch online marketplace Floom in March 2016.

Users can write their own delivery postcard and choose from the bouquets of curated local businesses. Independent florists offer "vastly superior" products anyway, she says, and customers can expect same-day delivery while knowing they are helping local small businesses.

Floom takes a cut of the sales and in June it will launch its own business management software that other firms can use for inventory, orders and customer service. Later this year, it will also add a subscription service and a workshop-booking facility.

Tom Singh, owner of fashion chain New Look, was an early investor. "I expected to hustle but I got lucky," Elie admits. The following year, she raised £520,000 through crowdfunding, selling almost a fifth of the business to 300 investors, and gaining a database of fans in the process. Crowdfunding is "a smart and fast way to get access to an email list of high-net-worth' customers", she says. "But it's hard work."

Today, Floom sells to customers in 134 countries, employs a staff of 14, and expects turnover to hit £5m this year. "I'm one of those people who gets bored easily, so every time that I feel like we're grinding through the same stuff, I'll get us to launch into a new city," says Elie. "I guess that's one of the benefits of being your own boss."

Parenting advice from prime ministers

936_MW_P37_MM_Mums_01-copy

She asked her friend, Carrie Longton, who had worked in television, to come on board as co-founder. They tried to raise £4.5m in venture capital, but the timing was bad the dotcom bubble was close to bursting. Instead, they relied on donations from early Mumsnet users.

Their big break came six years later when David Cameron logged on to field questions soon after becoming the leader of the Conservatives. The Q&A has since become a rite of passage for senior politicians, leading to the so-called "Mumsnet election" of 2010. Gordon Brown came a cropper when he refused to answer the traditional "favourite biscuit" question. Today, more than 14 million people a month visit Mumsnet, with Gransnet following in 2011 to "give older women a voice". However,around 15% of users of Mumsnet are men, andthe slogan is "Byparents for parents". Pre-tax profits came to £2.8m in 2017 on turnover of £8.3m, coming from advertising and charging bigbrands for market research.

Profits from food waste

936_MW_P37_MM_Karma_01

Karma

Last November, Bernadotte, who is from Sweden, teamed up with Swedish white-goods manufacturer Electrolux to test a "smart" refrigerator in Stockholm. During the trial at the entrance to a supermarket, registered users could buy discounted chilled items, before unlocking the fridge with a QR code (similar to a barcode, but for smartphones).

Karma has so far raised €18m from investors to expand the number of retailers it works with in London. A test launch is planned in Paris later this year. It's not the only app attempting to cut down on food waste, says Sheffield. But Karma is growing in popularity with users. "The reality is that it's standard practice for food businesses to throw away perfectly edible food," says Bernadotte. "We give them the flexibility to offer up anything that's still good to eat and sell it to consumers through the app at a discounted price. It's a win for retailers, because they reduce waste [and] it's a win for consumers who get great food for a reduced price and it's obviously a win for the environment."

Recommended

Zhao Weiguo: China’s No. 1 chip tycoon vanishes
People

Zhao Weiguo: China’s No. 1 chip tycoon vanishes

Zhao Weiguo rode a decades-long boom in China pursuing Beijing’s core industrial policy of semiconductor self-sufficiency. Then he fell foul of Xi Jin…
5 Aug 2022
Jennifer Lopez: the American dream on steroids
People

Jennifer Lopez: the American dream on steroids

Jennifer Lopez built a business empire on top of an entertainment career, thereby paving the way for the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltro…
31 Jul 2022
Will the Recovery Loan Scheme rescue struggling small businesses?
Small business

Will the Recovery Loan Scheme rescue struggling small businesses?

The government is going ahead with a two-year expansion of the Recovery Loan Scheme, which it hopes will help firms still getting back on their feet a…
28 Jul 2022
Changpeng Zhao: Binance founder undaunted by the crypto winter
Bitcoin & crypto

Changpeng Zhao: Binance founder undaunted by the crypto winter

Changpeng Zhao, the founder of controversial cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has been severely battered by carnage in the sector. But the future is b…
3 Jul 2022

Most Popular

Are UK house prices set to fall? It’s not so simple
House prices

Are UK house prices set to fall? It’s not so simple

Figures suggest UK house prices are starting to slide, but we shouldn’t take these numbers at face value, explains Rupert Hargreaves.
11 Aug 2022
Is gold cheap relative to equities?
Gold price

Is gold cheap relative to equities?

Dominic Frisby looks at the Dow-gold ratio and explains why gold is starting to appear inexpensive compared to equities.
12 Aug 2022
The energy price cap keeps rising - here is what you can do about it
Personal finance

The energy price cap keeps rising - here is what you can do about it

The energy price cap could hit £5,000 next year, even higher than expected, predicts energy consultancy Auxilione. Saloni Sardana explains what you ca…
12 Aug 2022