We had the pleasure meeting Lana Elie, the founder of all things floral – Floom Official. The beautiful little things that add the greatest touch to any space, that connect loved ones and even colleagues. With just a click of a button, these flowers can now reach your door step within a few hours of being purchased online. Think your online marketplace, with a selection from a wide range of vendors.
Read on to find out how Lana secured investment with the likes of New Look founder Tom Singh OBE and Munoz Group, parent company of MM Flowers – who supply flowers to Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S – investing £300,000 in the enterprise. It’s also to be noted that Floom also attracted a massive £580,000 funding through a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube in April 2017.
Name: Lana Elie
Current title | Company: CEO, Floom
Website / social media pages: @floomofficial for all social media
What was your first job and how did you get it?
I started out my career in Burberry, just at the point where they decided to be the first luxury brand to really take the online world and its opportunities seriously. I then worked for an agency creating content, mainly app-focused, for the likes of Gucci and other brands. Until October 2015, when I left to concentrate on Floom full time, I was Head Of Brand Solutions at i-D.
How did Floom come about?
Floom was a culmination of all my experiences, tech-first, but considerate of design, brand, and experience. During my role as a personal assistant at Burberry, I had spent so many wasted hours looking for florists when I had sent flowers out to clients, it was frustrating that most of the great ones were still unknown to most. I wanted to build something that simplified this discovery and purchasing process, but without just building an online floristry website, I knew it needed to be built around these independents and their skills.
What was it like making the decision to leave a 9-5 and jump into what you are passionate about, also how has it been so far?
As a lifestyle, it’s completely different. My life revolves completely around Floom – and I wouldn’t change that. With regards to how it’s been, 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. I would say that overcoming these issues are set by having risk strategies in place: 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.
How did your friends and family react towards this decision?
They were really supportive. Both knew that I loved flowers, and who doesn’t want to see someone go and follow their passion (as long as it’s got at least a slight bit of business sense behind it).
Did you have any mentors to guide your decision?
Not to guide my decision per se, but definitely to help guide me after the journey started. I’ve been gifted with great people with all different types of skills along the way. If there’s something I don’t feel is my strength, I go looking for someone who might be able to help.
What was the process in getting funding like and how long did it take?
Writing my business plan was the first step. In the process of writing my business plan, I’d researched a lot of others; the good ones are to the point, they’re short, there are no frills. What I did do though, that I think really carried my investment meetings, is I had my deck professionally designed. How do you tell (and sell) a story without a product? My answer was to visualise it, and it seemed to work. When you think of great products, it’s the ones that mix being something you need with something that’s beautiful, simple and easy to use. I think that’s often undervalued.
At the time, I probably knew this less than I do now, but being me was pretty important to getting funding. I’m fairly confident, I’m well put together, and I can sell something. That’s not what I thought of when I walked into first meetings though. I was more focused on not being a tech or finance whiz, whilst I did my own projections, it was absolutely the first time I’d dealt with a budget that size, so instead I’d memorised every breakdown of spend and return of revenue for every month in the next 5 years. Obviously, no one bothered to ask me about that, it wasn’t a 7th-grade math test…
I if you ask any investor who decided to take the risk with me, they’ll say it was my passion. It wasn’t my numbers, but it gave them confidence that I want it enough to figure it out. And part of that is knowing I need a strong finance person on the team, as well as many other supporting roles.
Were you ever scared this business wouldn’t work?
No! you can’t be if you want it to work. Once I had the idea, it didn’t matter whether I had spoken to a single investor, that I had no product or I hadn’t even left my job. All that mattered was I raising the capital and building the business I had dreamed of. The moments of insecurity about the idea had vanished, I’d registered the company name and filed for a UK trademark. I also bought the domain (well floom.it, the .com came much later) and I’d begun to materialise what the brand would look like. At this stage, I didn’t have any savings, but I put what I had leftover month on month into the business because I believed it wouldn’t be wasted.
What challenges have you faced since starting your business?
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. I would say that overcoming these issues are set by having risk strategies in place: 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.
Asides from Floom, what else are you passionate about?
Supporting other women in asking for pay rises, starting up and securing business funding.
What is your definition of success?
For me, It’s world domination of the flower industry 🙂
If you could go back and make any changes, what would they be?
I honestly wouldn’t have changed anything. We’ve got to where we are now through ambition, hard work and challenging ourselves and the company on a daily basis. Maybe I’d have started the business earlier if that counts?
Can you share a recent success story that makes you proud?
My team is my proudest success. It’s been the most difficult thing to perfect, especially with the speed we’re required to grow, but when you realise that all the people around you every day are incredibly intelligent, hard-working, and teaching you new things as well, there’s not much else that feels as rewarding.
3 top tips on getting funding?
1. Have an exceptional business plan and model – even if it changes (which it likely will) – you’ll have that vision concreted in that document.
2. 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.
3. Have a professionally designed deck. Visualising my idea and plan really helped meeting with investors.
What’s the most important advice you have received that you would like to share with other ladies?
To get used to rejection – just don’t let it mean anything and don’t take it personally. And curiosity. It’s easy enough to find the right tools to teach you about things you don’t know… and if you still don’t have those skills, recruit people who do.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
That the flower industry is in need of a shake-up, maybe via a florist marketplace, maybe with the name of the marketplace being called Floom…haha!
What is the future for Floom?
Growth, expansion, and domination of the flower industry!
To find out more about Floom Official and order yourself some lovely flowers, please visit their website.
Join us on March 29th, 2018 at our 2nd event this year! Get your tickets.