Most startups are confined to a specific niche, but no matter what the product or service, the stories of how they came to be are often just as fascinating as the companies on their own.
While I sit here writing about former Google employee turned entrepreneur Steve Feiner, I can’t help but remember the famous line Bilbo said to Frodo at the beginning of the Lord of the Rings.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
You never know what will happen once you decide to take that first step out the door or what discoveries lie in wait.
After all, Albert Einstein scratched his theory of general relativity on the back of a patent sheet while working as a clerk in Switzerland, and Albert Hoffman unexpectedly synthesized the most powerful hallucinogenic known to man, LSD-25, while working with ergot fungus for fertility reasons.
The point is inspiration can bloom in the most unexpected of places, and that notion could never be more true than in Feiner’s case.
While working on ecommerce sales and business strategy for Google in Singapore, Feiner took notice of heavy traffic on searches for flowers and florists. He took that bit of information and researched the industry in Singapore and found that the flower market was broken.
With his newly-found insight, the young entrepreneur was swept off, like Frodo and Bilbo before him, to found his new company and passion in life, A Better Florist.
“With each decision I followed my gut and did what I thought was right,” Feiner would later write on his blog.
But living in Singapore wasn’t the only inspiration behind Feiner’s floral fanaticism.
In an interview with Tech in Asia the ex-Googler cum florist cited an unpleasant ordeal involving his ex-girlfriend and truant tulips.
“The flowers arrived a day after her birthday, they died shortly after, she was not happy. It was scarring to say the least,” he said in the interview.
John Lennon wrote in his song Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”
Feiner began working at Google in San Francisco and was later shipped out to Singapore. If he had never been dispatched, he would never have found his calling — changing the florist market in Southeast Asia while delivering a “thousand smiles a day.”