Ajay Kori

Ajay Kori, Co-founder, UrbanStems, The List 2019

It’s no surprise that Ajay Kori, co-founder of UrbanStems, is a bit of a romantic. He shares his love of language with strangers and wakes up every day contemplating how he can make it easier for people to say, “I love you” through flowers.

“Creating an experience for customers where they really feel valued is what drives me,” says Kori, who first caught the retail bug while working at Best Buy. In 2013, Kori, a first-generation American who helped launch Amazon’s first pharmacy, had grown frustrated with the unreliability of traditional flower delivery services. Using customer experience lessons he learned while working at Quidsi — which ran sites like Wag.com and Diapers.com — he created UrbanStems.

Today, the company has 100 employees in Washington, D.C. and New York. UrbanStems owns every piece of the supply chain — investing in farms and dictating what’s planted; owning and operating the warehouse and distribution center, and employing delivery people full-time. “Today, we have the best experience in the industry,” Kori says. “It’s totally vertically integrated.”

What’s next for UrbanStems? Kori says a partnership with floral and event designer Lewis Miller, the “Banksy of flowers,” who will design all their flower collections. “This will be up a couple notches from the affordable luxury we’ve already created,” Kori says, noting their existing limited-edition arrangements designed by Vogue’s top editors. “Think of the bouquets that celebrities have at their weddings. You’ll be able to order those for $50 and free delivery.”