The online flower delivery company, Bloom & Wild, has 3 Oxford alumni on its team of 30, including its co-founder and CEO. Remarkably 2 of the 3 of them read Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, so that bodes well for any current biochemists looking to pursue a career in a tech startup! We spoke to their Oxford alumni contingent to hear all about Bloom & Wild:
Aron Gelbard, co-founder & CEO, explained:
I studied French and German at Jesus – I’d done languages for my A-levels and had no idea what I wanted to do as a career, but thought that speaking 2 other languages and having the chance to work overseas for a year during my studies would be a good bet. When I was planning my year abroad, there was lots of flexibility over how I spent my time, as long as I was speaking French or German every day. I found a job in Paris, working for a large technology company setting up online procurement systems – it was my first real office job and it made me realise my passion for technology even though I was doing an Arts degree. The time I spent in France and Germany that year, and my studies at Oxford more broadly, gave me a strong interest in and appreciation for the cultures of those countries. I’ve never really put this to use professionally, and sometimes wondered when I would get the chance to do so. Earlier this year, we decided to expand Bloom & Wild internationally, and identified France and Germany as priority markets. It’s been so valuable speaking the languages and understanding French and German behaviours and cultures as I’ve led our efforts to understand local competitors, customer preferences and even the nitty gritty of ecommerce regulations!
Dave Marshall, Senior Data Scientist at Bloom & Wild also links his 8 years of study at Oxford to his work now:
Weekly lab sessions, problems sheets and research projects made data analysis and statistics an integral part of the Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry course. My enthusiasm for graphs is yet to be dented. Towards the end of my undergraduate days, I was drawn to computational biochemistry and carried out simulations of biological molecules. This is a data-heavy field which gave me a good grounding in programming. After completing a DPhil, I swapped molecules and microscopes for marketing and product analysis as a Data Scientist at the peer to peer finance pioneer Zopa. I learned more about databases, improved my programming and had my first taste of using data for business decision making. Now as Senior Data Scientist at Bloom & Wild, I continue to analyse and guide business decisions but also take time to make sure we are using the right tools to unlock data across the business. Being part of a rapidly growing company and learning every day is a real thrill.
And Caroline Smithers, who heads up Finance at Bloom & Wild also traces her career back to Oxford biochemistry degree:
When I graduated from Oxford with a Masters in Biochemistry I wasn’t interested in going into research but wanted to find a career where I could apply the analytical and problem solving skills I’d developed during my scientific training. My father ran his own business which I’d always been interested in and I decided that it would be a good move this way while keeping my options open would be by training to be an accountant so I joined Deloitte. After a number of years working in the world of big corporates I decided I wanted to move to a fast growing start up where I could make a real impact. I joined Bloom and Wild in August this year as Head of Finance. My first 3 months have flown by. It has been rewarding to build finance processes from scratch and be involved in such a variety of different things as the business grows – every day is different and exciting! Working in a fast paced environment you have to be flexible and think outside of the box. Oxford encouraged me to be intellectually curious and ask challenging questions. My scientific training also still proves invaluable as it taught me to approach problems in a logical and methodical way, researching the evidence and options before arriving at the final answer.
Careers in entrepreneurship and startups are becoming an increasingly popular choice for bright graduates from leading universities like Oxford, and there are so many ways to use all sorts of Oxford degree courses to get off to a good start!
Find out more about Aron Gelbard, the co-founder and CEO of Bloom&Wild, in our Entrepreneurs Uncovered series.