I became an entrepreneur by accident. I was 18 at the time when one day I heard a statistic that I couldn’t shake, it was that every 3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of hunger, and most of the time its children. I remember I was in school for my undergraduate when I heard that, and once I did, I wanted to make it my mission to help solve that issue. So, I started gathering some friends of mine who I figured cared about the issue like me and we started brainstorming ways in which we could help. I actually had a name for it; Operation 3.6.
We began by trying to think of how we could operate as a not-for-profit and it always came back to one thing: money. It takes a lot of generous people to make a NPO work, and the troubling thing is that a lot of the money that gets donated goes towards keeping the operation alive, not helping out the actual cause. That’s when I had the idea that instead of trying to get people to donate, what if we could get people to buy something that we made instead? We could then use that money to help out in whatever humanitarian endeavour we wanted. I ended up forming this company, inadvertently, called The Backpack Company. It was actually amazing, we managed to partner with a not-for-profit who was building schools in the poorest area of the poorest country in South America; Bolivia. They were thinking of doing a backpack donation drive to help out these kids because the way the government operated in Bolivia at the time was that you had to have proper school supplies in order to go to school.
So that’s where we jumped in; the thought was to make 2 backpacks, one for the customer, and one for a child in Bolivia, but we were also going to fill it with school supplies so the little ones could go to school, finally.
I found a local textile manufacturer and with his help, we made our first batch of backpacks. I had a friend help me build a site for this new thing (the internet barely knew what e-commerce was at the time, I’m fairly certain things like Wordpress or Squarespace didn’t exist yet, so we can to code it from scratch). We ended up selling out of our first batch a little after a week of when we launched. One of the coolest things about the backpacks was there was a QR code on the side. This was super new technology at the time, but each QR code was unique, and when you (as the customer) scanned it, it would bring you to a page on the website with a picture of the child you bought the backpack for, and a little information about them (yes, we got the parents permission, they loved the idea).
I went to Bolivia with the NPO and spent some time there with the kids. The look on their faces when we would give every one of them a backpack was amazing, it was like a joy that only has happened a few times in my life since. I know some people may take umbrage with some young, white guy going to a foreign country for a short period of time to help out just to make himself feel better or whatever, but I felt like I had actually made a difference, and I was doing something about my conviction.
Market cap doesn't matter
Enter Sharebloom. When the idea of Sharebloom was being discussed originally between my co-founder and I, she asked me if she thought it would be a smart idea or not to move forward it it considering how small the market cap really was for plants and flowers. She loved the idea of course, but also knows my personal goals and achievements and was wondering if something like this could satiate that. It was in that moment that I realized market cap of an industry doesn’t matter, what matters is that we are connecting people with nature. Through that we can help reduce the amount of anxiety and stress that everyday life causes and help improve people’s mental and physical states in the process. Is there anything more beautiful? Is there any mission greater? Perhaps, but for us, this is our calling. This is our mission. And we’re incredibly excited about it.