Founder Friday at The Vine With Blossom Cofounder & CEO
ELEVATE: What’s the origin story of Blossom? What were you doing before launching and what made you decide to go for it?
MANRIQUE BRENES: I’d been working with my partner and cofounder Kaido Kert for 7 to 8 years on a bunch of different projects at Skype. We went through the ups and downs and the good times and hard times together and we built a great relationship of mutual respect and friendship. He’s a brilliant engineer and a hardworking person, and I enjoyed doing the product and business portion. We always had a vision of starting something of our own, we were just looking for the right problem to solve. Then in 2013, I bought a new house…from my first house with no kids to a bigger house with a garden, etc. In addition to all the other expenses of buying a new home, I noticed our water bill had gone up about $100 a month! I noticed that even when it was cloudy and drizzly or about to rain, the sprinklers still went off. It occurred to me then. This is the problem Kaido and I had been looking for.
ELEVATE: So what’s the most challenging thing about being a founder?
MANRIQUE BRENES: Definitely the responsibility you have for the people who work for you. A lot of our team has worked with me before and they’ve all taken the risk of joining this new venture and while every hire isn’t going to work out you want to make sure people have a good experience while they are here.
ELEVATE: What’s the most rewarding?
MANRIQUE BRENES: The most rewarding thing is seeing a nice review or hearing about a positive experience from someone who’s using the product. Those make you feel like all the hard work has been worth it!
ELEVATE: How’s your experience been being based at The Vine Orange County? What made you choose The Vine vs. all of your options for workspace?
MANRIQUE BRENES: The most valuable thing about The Vine is having a mix of people and companies that can potentially add value to each other. We found partners to help with accounting, finding a warehouse, the guys next door have a 3D printer and when we had a need for that technology they did it for us. It’s also so useful to exchange notes with other founders, to trade references, make introductions, and overall support each other.
ELEVATE: What’s one piece of advice you would share with all budding entrepreneurs?
MANRIQUE BRENES: Don’t limit yourself to building a company you think is going to be worth a billion dollars. There are tons and tons and tons and I think that today we live in a world where the hunger for big valuations overshadows the reality that just in the Bay Area there are 24,000 start-ups a year… And there’s only gonna be a hand full or a couple dozen that will be around in 25 years. Focus on building great products that deserve to be built. If you believe that what you’re doing is something that is going to have an impact on people’s lives and that you’re going to be happy building it, that’s the requirement. Don’t get discouraged by potential investors who say “Well it’s not a Billion dollar company so why are you doing it?
ELEVATE: Anything you would do differently if you could go back and launch Blossom again?
MANRIQUE BRENES: I wish we would have focused on some areas of marketing, specifically social media, more in the beginning. I totally underestimated the power of social media today and the relevance it has in terms of reaching your target audience! It’s probably because I’m of an older generation and not the millennial type…but If you’re building a company today it’s definitely imperative and something we’re much more focused on now.
ELEVATE: What do your customers LOVE about Blossom?
MANRIQUE BRENES: We’re often recognized for having one of the best “out of box” experiences. People love that Blossom allows them to program their sprinklers in as few as 10 minutes after downloading the app. That experience is a key part of how we make our customer’s lives easier, enable them to help the environment, and help them save money at the same time.
ELEVATE: What do YOU love about Blossom?
MANRIQUE BRENES: We’re proud of the fact the product is the most advanced of it’s kind in terms of aggregating multiple sources of data and leveraging them to continuously deliver on our value proposition to our customers. For example, our algorithm partitions the United States into individual 2 square mile grids, and we gather and filter hourly weather information covering more than 100 different atmospheric data points in each one of the grid corners, and are continuously refreshing this weather information over and over! We’re using the same data that scientists are using to forecast hurricanes in addition to many other weather sources. It’s something most people can’t even fathom!
ELEVATE: What do you look for in a stellar team member across functions?
MANRIQUE BRENES: In general, we want people who are self driven and who can think on their own. We also look for people who love what they’re doing. Our team works very hard, but it’s not that we push them to, it’s because they believe in what we’re doing. They believe in the company and they want to be a part of something that’s growing where they can make a difference.
ELEVATE: Manrique we can’t thank you enough for your insight. I’m personally on my way to the app store to download Blossom now! Our last question of the day: What are the 3 productivity tools that you personally cannot live without?
- Slack! We put everything on Slack where we work.
- Google Drive
- And of course our favorite app – Blossom!
ELEVATE: Of course!
Interested learning more? Download the Blossom App today!