A Real Life Botanist
Veronica Sykes is the founder of Florish and the real-life epitome of “do what you love and success will follow.”
Plants have always been Veronica’s passion. As a kid, her peers would come home from school and play soccer or go swimming, but Veronica’s after school hobby was gardening. While Veronica studied architecture in college and ultimately started her career in real estate, botany and horticulture remained her main interests. Unsurprisingly, Veronica ultimately realized that working with plants was her true calling but she wasn’t sure how to transform her passion into a viable business.
Then four years ago, Veronica met her now-wife. While they were dating, Veronica’s wife bought an apartment and asked Veronica for help selecting plants for her patio. The only requirements were that the plants fit her budget and improve the look and feel of the space. Subsequently, Veronica started helping several of her friends who did not want to spend money on a landscape architect with help selecting plants in their budgets.
That’s when Veronica had the idea for “Veronica in your pocket” – an app that would allow anyone, not only her friends and family, to ask questions about plants – from which ones to buy to how often to water them – and receive the right answers and suggestions.
Her Journey with Reliable Bits
While Veronica was excited about her idea, she didn’t know where to start. She applied to a program at General Assembly and received a scholarship to learn coding so that she could better understand the technology powering mobile apps. Realizing that she did not want to build the app herself, she raised $50,000 from friends and family and was looking to spend half of it on her technology costs. Subsequently, she began pitching her idea to agencies to learn what the true cost would be to get her idea off the ground. That’s when she met Deepak and realized that Reliable Bits had the expertise and efficiency to build her app at a reasonable price.
Reliable Bits worked incredibly closely with Veronica to create the MVP of Florish, ensuring that the first version of the app truly aligned with her vision. While other companies would have also helped her to execute her vision, Deepak took the time to explain the importance of not building too many features before seeing any user traction. In fact, Florish presently has only twenty percent of the features that Veronica wants – but she is waiting to build the other eighty percent once she gets metrics and data from her current users.
Working with Deepak was like having a business coach or a co-founder that Veronica could bounce ideas off of – ranging from questions about technology to what her business model should be and so much more. Now, Reliable Bits provides technology support so that Veronica can focus on growing her business without managing tech employees.
Her Advice to Other Founders
Veronica believes that it is incredibly important to be tenacious and to believe in what you are doing. It is also critical not to rush, especially with your technology – it is more important to be patient and pay attention to details, rather than be quick and make mistakes.
There are some things she would have liked to know when Florish was in the initial stages. She would have probably tried to save more money on legal bills. She says she should have compared hourly rates on tools like Upwork, rather than using people who were referred to her, to save costs. She didn’t have to be so scared about not having a founding team. She now realizes that it is okay, and in fact better, to bring in people later to form a team when your vision and idea are in place, and when you are in a position to compensate them, rather than have people coming and going, because you can’t offer them anything more than equity.
Veronica emphasizes the importance of discipline, particularly that you have the discipline to make your product usable so that you can attract actual users without getting caught up in other superfluous features. Another recommendation she has for entrepreneurs is to consider what you can do with no tech. For example, you should be able to provide your service to five people with no tech, and then when you can’t offer your service to the additional users after, it is time to find a technology team.
That being said, it is important to have a technology team to bring your idea into fruition. Veronica feels like having Reliable Bits as her out-of-house technology team was the best decision she ever made. Reliable Bits was more than just a tech support team to her because they gave her so much guidance throughout the process without taking creative control.