People laughed at this entrepreneur's idea - now it's a $500 million business, thanks to his mom


Tariq FaridCourtesy of Edible ArrangementsTariq Farid is the founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements.

For the longest time flowers have been the standard for saying "I love you," "I'm sorry," and "I hope things gets better."


Who, then, would dream of competing with the mainstay of positive gestures and sentiments?

At least that's what experts asked Tariq Farid, then a flower shop owner, when he pitched them the idea behind Edible Arrangements in 1999.

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Farid, who had begun toying with flower-shaped cutters and pineapple slices, was told to "stick with flowers, that I was wasting my time and my money on fruit bouquets," he explains to Business Insider.

But when he first took an arrangement home and put it on the table, his mother told him, "This is going to be great." That's all the encouragement he needed to begin his new venture.


Farid recalls telling a respected local professional about the new business and his "focus group of one." The expert laughed, reminding Farid that he was in the flower business and that he should focus on what he knew best. "No one is doing this," the expert told Farid, "so I don't know why you think it will be successful."

"In my heart, however, I knew I had a winner, and that is what drove me to pursue the idea despite the advice of the 'experts,'" Farid recalls. 

Fast forward to today: The $500 million company is an industry leader with more than 1,200 franchises. It recently ranked No. 40 on Entrepreneur magazine's Top 500 franchise companies list.

The negative feedback he received from industry experts - and the positive feedback from his most trusted advisor - quickly taught him a valuable lesson he still carries with him today: "You shouldn't be afraid to go against the advice of experts when, in your heart, you believe the direction you want to take is the right one."

Edible Arrangementslgckgc/flickr

He acknowledges that leaders shouldn't always ignore the advice of experts or research - in most cases this type of input should play an important guiding role. But it's easy to over analyze a product or a service, and the analysis can be wrong, he says.


Likewise, just because someone is a successful business person or a college professor doesn't mean they always have the best advice. "They often are no more of an expert than your mother."

"There are those times when you must stand firm and you - and only you - will need to make a decision that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of your business," he explains. "Often, these decisions require that you go against popular opinion."