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Weathering the Storm

January 24, 2009

Remember the Four P's: Price, promotion, product and place

David Hartstein, founder and CEO of KaBloom flowers, was born in Israel, the son of Holocaust survivors.

He came to America in 1982 to attend Suffolk University, then shortly after returned to Israel when his father died.

"My mother was the one who convinced me to come back to the U.S. to finish school," he says. "She said ... 'Everything can be taken away from you, but your education.' That statement has resided in me throughout my professional career."

Hartstein would go on to earn a bachelor's degree and MBA from Suffolk in just four years, while also working full time.

Over the course of his career, he has worked with and founded a variety of companies. It was in 1998 that he launched KaBloom, retailers of fresh-cut flowers, and subsequently Kabloom.com. By 2006, the company reached sales of $40 million and had more than 120 stores nationwide.

Hartstein sold the company in 2006, then bought it back in 2008 after patenting a hydration system that allows flowers to be shipped to consumers and stores in water. The balloon-like device is secured tightly to the base of cut stems. Today, Hartstein says, thanks to this Moses Miracle, as the patent is named, his is the only company in the United States that can ship flowers overnight in water via mainstream delivery services.

Q: You describe a difficult process in getting the patent for the Moses Miracle. In fact, you say the patent was turned down three times. Why did you keep trying?

A: We found out in retrospect that the examiners in Washington, D.C., had not issued the patent not because there was something out there like it, but because they could not believe that something so simple was not invented before. The point I am making here is that in this day and age, it is very hard to reinvent the wheel. But it is important for all of us to look at our business every day and determine where we stand as it relates to our competition. What can we do that is better than our competition? And that is one of the great things that exists in the United States; as long as we are honest and ethical, the sky is the limit.

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