Bouqs CEO John Tabis talks 'Shark Tank' rejection, tips for entrepreneurs

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Aspiring entrepreneurs should get comfortable with the feeling of rejection as they strive to turn their startups into profitable companies, according to John Tabis, CEO of the burgeoning online floral retailer The Bouqs Company.

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A former brand strategy executive at Disney, Tabis partnered with college classmate Juan Pablo Montufar in 2012 to launch The Bouqs, which cuts out the traditional floral industry supply chain of importers and exporters and sells flowers directly from farmers to customers. Within two years, and with some early investors already on board, The Bouqs earned an appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” but failed to draw funding from Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec or any of the show’s other famous benefactors.

Despite that early taste of rejection, Tabis and his team rallied. The Bouqs Company has amassed more than $43.1 million in outside investments to date. While Tabis declined to discuss specific revenue figures, he said the company regularly racks up more than $1 million per day in sales leading up to occasions such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. At present, the company said it is growing 150% year-over-year.

“For anyone that has a desire to do something different that the world isn’t necessarily used to, getting very thick-skinned very quickly is absolutely critical,” Tabis told FOX Business. “There have been way more people that have told me, ‘no, this isn’t going to work’ than have told me, ‘yes, this is going to work.’ If, after my 10th or 100th or 200th ‘no’ I would’ve said they’re right, I should give up, we wouldn’t be here right now.”

Ironically, one of the “Sharks” who once passed on The Bouqs Company later took part in its largest investment round. Three years after he appeared on the program, Herjavec, in the midst of planning his wedding, asked Tabis why flowers were so expensive. Tabis supplied the flowers and offered to give Herjavec a closer look at the floral business.

Soon after, Herjavec contributed to a Series C round of financing that raised $24 million for The Bouqs Company. Cuban later told ABC that The Bouqs deal is “the one I regret not doing.”

“There’s a lot of smart people who have said no to us,” Tabis said. “There’s a lot of smart people that passed on buying Harry Potter. There’s a lot of smart people that passed on Facebook. What those companies that made it had going for them is that they had a really great business that could make it, and then they refused to believe those people saying no were right.”

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