John Tabis, 40, is chief executive and co-founder of the Bouqs Co., and he’s trying to change the way we buy flowers. The Venice company sells blooms directly to consumers, eliminating several layers of middlemen. Tabis works closely with his Ecuador-based co-founder Juan Pablo Montúfar, a fellow graduate of the University of Notre Dame. In 2012, the year Bouqs was founded, the company had revenue of less than $1 million. Five years later, Tabis said, “we had several days in 2017 where we sold more than $1 million in flowers in a day.”
Juan Pablo Montufar
No ‘Shark’ bite
Tabis’ company was a semi-finalist in 2016 and a finalist in 2017 for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. But in 2014, when Tabis went on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank,’ he failed to win an investment.
“While you get a decent amount of time to explain in ‘Shark Tank,’” Tabis said, “you’re sort of peppered with questions and it’s tough to get down into the nitty gritty. What was funny was that one of the Sharks, Robert Herjavec, wound up investing later after we discussed flowers for his wedding.” That round of investment in January brought in $24 million.
Tabis said it is important “to get used to hearing ‘no’” when you are starting a business and seeking investors. That was why he was able to see the “Shark Tank” experience as a victory because he was one of the few who made the cut to appear on the show.
“I had raised $1.7 million in seed money in one round of investing. To get to that $1.7 million worth of ‘yes,’ I had to sit through 100 people saying ‘no.’”