BloomNation’s co-founder David Daneshgar has poker to thank for his company’s early success.
Daneshgar is a professional poker player. He won the World Series of Poker in 2008 and has been ranked one of the world’s best poker players. By the time he was 26, he had won several million dollars playing the high-stakes card game.
So in 2011 when he helped launch BloomNation, a marketplace for florists to sell their flowers straight to consumers, he and his cofounders decided to stay away from outside investors. Instead, they funded the first version of BloomNation’s website the best way they knew how: through poker earnings.
Along with co-founders Gregg Weisstein and Farbod Shoraka, Daneshgar went to Los Angeles to compete in a two-day poker tournament to win $US30,000 — exactly how much the three would need for BloomNation’s seed funding. While Daneshgar played poker, Weisstein and Shoraka sat at the poker tables next to him on their laptops, designing BloomNation’s website.
When the tournament got down to the wire, Weisstein and Shoraka stopped working. A crowd formed around Daneshgar and his opponent. It was tense; BloomNation needed the $US30,000 that came with the first-place title. Coming in at second place would have only given the cofounders $US15,000.
Daneshgar’s opponent saw just one of two pairs in his hand and started to celebrate with his family, mistakenly thinking he’d won.
“Gregg came up to me and asked, ‘Man, what happened?’. I went to them and said, ‘don’t worry; it’s flower time.'”
Daneshgar said Gregg and Farbod looked dejected, even though he “kept a cool face.”
“I was excited, jubilant,” Daneshgar told Business Insider.
The tournament director came by and grabbed both players’ cards. He cleaned the table and showed the opponent he lost.
“The tournament director pointed at me, which is when everyone realised what I had known: that I had won,” Daneshgar told us.
Daneshgar won the $US30,000 prize, which would be the first sum of money BloomNation’s cofounders would raise for their fledgling website. After the tournament, the team went out to a celebratory dinner, and they immediately took the $US30,000 Daneshgar had won and wrote a development check for the first version of BloomNation.
“Poker did one big thing for this company besides give us the money: it gave us this whole thought process to take on risks,” Daneshgar said. “We like to see people who want to adhere to the startup mentality, who want to take risks.”
BloomNation isn’t relying on poker to fund BloomNation anymore; the cofounders have raised a $US1.65 million round from Spark Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Chicago Ventures, Mucker Capital, and CrunchFund. They’re looking to raise more money soon, and Daneshgar says he plan to expand his team of 14 employees to 40 within the next year.
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