This woman took her startup to the next level because of her network made up of personal assistants

When you think of super lucrative industries flowers may not come to mind right away, but they should. The annual spending on flowers in the U.S is more than $26 billion. However, the way most of the floral industry works is actually very outdated in this world of apps and seamless same-day delivery.

That is where Lana Elie comes in with her startup Floom. Floom is an online marketplace for London, and now New York’s, best independent florists to display their beautiful inventory and provide a one-stop shop for customers to peruse, order and purchase. In other words, she figured out how to solve the problem with the floral industry.

Elie, who is just 30, came up with the idea for Floom while working as a Personal Assistant at Burberry’s London headquarters. As a PA she was constantly ordering flowers for clients and friends of her boss so she saw the ins and outs of this archaic system.

“I was inspired to set it up after having spent so many wasted hours looking for florists when I sent flowers in the past and was also frustrated that most of the great ones were still unknown to most, and the big online options were sending under par products and offering horrible to non-existent customer support,”,” Elie told Ladders. “I wanted to build something that simplified this discovery and purchasing process but without just building another online floristry website. I knew it needed to be built around these independents and their skills, which is where the value in the product really comes to life.”

She launched the company two years ago while working full time as a Digital Producer of Live Events to Head of Brand Solutions at fashion and culture magazine i-D.

“I’d not spoken to a single investor, I’d not had product, but somehow I didn’t have a seed of doubt about raising and building it,” Elie said. “Those moments of insecurity about the idea had vanished. I’d registered the company name, I’d even filed for a UK trademark for it. I’d bought the domain and I’d begun to materialize what the brand looked like. I’d not had savings, but I put what I had left over, month on month, into these things cause I believed they wouldn’t be wasted.”

Network, network, network!

But perhaps she was mostly so confident that the company would work because of the incredible network she had built. As a PA she was constantly mingling with other PAs either in real life or in a Facebook group and as they all worked for very powerful and notable people, she was given access to a tremendous group of potential investors when she launched Floom.

She attributes a lot of the company’s success to her networking with other people on her level at the beginning of her career who could later get her in the right rooms. Her investors include Tom Singh OBE and Munoz Group, the parent company of MM Flowers and some of her clients include Florence Welch, Kate Moss, and companies including The BBC, Jamie Oliver Ltd, ITV, Conde Nast and Hearst.

As for her best networking tip, she told Ladders, “Always be open-minded, make sure you listen to everyone you speak to, and help people when you can — and it’s a lot more likely the favor will then be repaid. I also try to go to open talks when I can, as it’s a great opportunity to put both yourself and business out there. I’m a naturally confident person, so it comes quite naturally to me — but that’s not to say that if you’re not that you can’t work at it.