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A 29-Year-Old CEO Quit Microsoft To Build His Startup — And Just Scored A Deal on Shark Tank Aabesh De tapped into a niche need during the pandemic and founded Flora, a houseplant care startup.

By Sherin Shibu

Key Takeaways

  • Aabesh De quit working at Microsoft three years ago to focus on…his houseplants.
  • “My dear mother gave me her prized rose bush plant that she had for years," De said on Shark Tank. “And I ended up killing it in eight short days."
  • So De created the Flora Pod, and scored a $300,000 deal on Shark Tank.
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Three years ago, Aabesh De quit his customer service job at Microsoft to work on an idea that became his plant sensor startup, Flora. On a "Shark Tank" episode that aired on February 16, the 29-year-old founder and CEO earned a deal worth $300,000 for his houseplant care solutions.

Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner gave De $300,000 for 15% equity and 5% in advisory shares, along with a $2 per unit royalty until she recoups her investment. De revealed that Flora brought in $192,000 in gross sales last year, but isn't yet profitable.

Flora came to life when De tried and failed to keep his houseplants alive during the pandemic. He was overwhelmed by the plethora of articles out there, and the different instructions that were needed to care for various species of houseplants. More personally, he was frustrated that every plant he touched kept dying — even a prized plant that his mom gave him.

"My dear mother gave me her prized rose bush plant that she had for years," De said on Shark Tank. "And I ended up killing it in eight short days."

Related: The Down-to-earth Founders

De was looking for a product that could act as a wellness tracker for his plants. When he couldn't find it, he invented it — the Flora Pod is a small $64 attachment that goes beyond the surface of the soil of an indoor or outdoor plant and acts as a coach to keep the plant alive. It makes sure that the plant is getting enough water and light and lets the user know if anything is amiss.

Related: Startup Spotlight: Jordan-Based Smart Green Is On A Mission To Digitally Transform Conventional Farming Practices Across The MENA Region

Another Flora offering is the popular app, which has reached more than 300,000 people in 190 countries. The pod isn't required to use the app; app users can set customized reminders, scan their plant to get information about its species, and earn game-like rewards as they care for their plants.

Flora also offers locally sourced houseplants for sale online.

De started his business from scratch, teaching himself what he needed to know about electronics and computer science so that he could build the prototype moisture sensor for the Flora Pod and code the Flora iOS app.

"It's been incredibly rewarding seeing how far we've come," De told his alma mater, the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Sherin Shibu

Entrepreneur Staff

News Reporter

Sherin Shibu is a business news reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She previously worked for PCMag, Business Insider, The Messenger, and ZDNET as a reporter and copyeditor. Her areas of coverage encompass tech, business, strategy, finance, and even space. She is a Columbia University graduate.

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