Washington DC

April 12, 2019

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photo of Ajay Kori photo of Ajay Kori photo of Ajay Kori

Ajay Kori — Ajay Kori — Ajay Kori — Ajay Kori — 

Ajay Kori — Ajay Kori — Ajay Kori — Ajay Kori — 

UrbanStems began with a phone call in late 2013. Ajay Kori called his college friend and dorm mate, Jeff Sheely, out of frustration that, once again, an attempt to send flowers to his long-distance girlfriend was met with poor customer service and unreliable delivery, despite a hefty price tag. There had to be a way to revolutionize the flower delivery business and make sending flowers a happy, seamless experience. In time for Valentine’s Day 2014, Jeff and Ajay launched UrbanStems in Washington, DC. Since then, UrbanStems has expanded nationwide.

In May 2016, UrbanStems announced a $6.8m Series A funding round led by SWaN & Legend Venture Partners with investments from Middleland Capital, NextGen Venture Partners, Interplay Ventures, and Sagamore Ventures. In June 2017, UrbanStems raised $6 million in a Series A extension led by Haas Portman with participation from SWaN & Legend, NextGen Venture Partners, and GroTech. This brings UrbanStems’ total funding raised to $14.3 million.

UrbanStems and its founders have been featured in publications such as Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Forbes.com, Fortune, Smart CEO, Fast Company, and Time as well as broadcast outlets like CNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg Radio.

Ajay Kori was born in Cleveland and grew up in Durham, North Carolina. An early entrepreneur, he created a content site that sold for over a million dollars while still in high school. Ajay earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University and graduated from Harvard Business School in 2011. While at Harvard, Ajay won the HBS 2010 Business Plan Contest and was featured in a case study before graduating. Before creating UrbanStems, Ajay was at Quidsi (which sold to Amazon for $540 million) and helped launch Amazon’s first pharmacy.

Main Hall — 1:35pm

The Pressure To Innovate

An open discussion on how the rising pressure to constantly 'innovate' within organizations (whether venture backed, private, public, or even the non-profit sector) can impact culture and productivity, and what to do about it. The panel discussion (moderated by DJ Saul and featuring Rebecca Linder, Patrick Smith, and Ajay Kori) — will look at how innovation became synonymous with “cool” (and why that’s not necessarily a good thing); and how various 'frameworks' for innovation have clouded the drive toward actionable goals. Lastly, we’ll bring the audience in on a discussion on how to best handle the pressure to innovate to ultimately build something meaningful.
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