Am happy to announce the launch of KLUTCHclub!

March 7, 2012

Dear Chicago Start-up Community,

I am very happy to announce the launch of  KLUTCHclub is a health, wellness and fitness subscription program that allows consumers to receive $50 worth of nutrition products, supplements, fitness gear, and athletic apparel and skincare products for ~$18 per month.  The first box will contain products for April’s theme, “Spring Clean Your Body,” from the following brands: KIND snacks, ZICO coconut water,  Tea Forte, Yoga Hyde, Kristin McGee, Barlean’s Organic Oils, Enjoy Life Foods, Hydrive energy, Shea Terra Organics.

I founded KLUTCHclub as a way to find solutions for my own struggles with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  While working a demanding job and travelling Monday through Thursday every week, I was on a perpetual quest to find products that would make eating nutritious food and exercising on- the- go more convenient.  Confused by all the options out there (what are chia seeds, hemp seed, flax seeds, omegas???), not knowing which brands to trust, and unwilling to invest hundreds of dollars on products that I couldn’t distinguish from the latest diet trends and gimmicks to something that was truly holistically good for me (what if I really hate the $300 cleanse?),  I wanted an expert to curate a box of products for me and just deliver them straight to my door and explain how I should use them.  Because that option did not exist, I created it, with inspiration from similar successful business models (e.g., Babbaco, etc).

As an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company, I served Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail clients and noticed they struggled to engage consumers in a multi-channel way and almost nobody was doing digital promotions well.  The health and wellness space is so fragmented and the digital marketing space so new, I wanted to find ways to help consolidate this industry and allow the manufacturers and retailers to target consumers with digital ads in ways where one could measure and increase ROI.  So in addition to giving the brand partners a channel to drive trial, I created a way for consumers to use digital promotions to buy more of the products they try every month.

The launch of KLUTCHclub has been eventful, challenging (one could even say at times emotionally draining) but very rewarding.  It all happened very fast- over the past 3 months or so- and my transition from the consulting world was very tumultuous and a bit scary.  A lot of people told me I was crazy to give up a corporate career (at McKinsey or other places that were more common “exit options” for consultants) that had some security and guaranteed career trajectory in exchange for a venture with a lot of uncertainty.  To me it seemed like a no -regret move to pursue something that is:

1. all mine;

2. solves a real problem that I along with a sizeable number of other people have;

3. would challenge me and give me a learning experience that no other outlet could.

The biggest challenges of the transition have been:

1. Moving from a strategic mindset to a tactical one and having to do many things myself that prior to launching my own company I was able to delegate to a team of people;

2. Having to be so resource starved that I have to get by with "scrappy" alternatives when I would prefer to have more expensive/ elaborate options;

3. Navigating a whole new community of people, establishing trust based relationships with new people, and earning credibility where I could not rely on previous networks.

These 3 challenges also brought rewards:

1. Seeing results on a daily (if not hourly) basis

2. Having the ultimate say over how my brand is developed and discovering what brand authenticity means to me

3. Finding a whole new community of people who share the same passions and interests.  Building out my team and finding people that inspire me. 

McKinsey asked me to define my leadership principles and philosophy and then employ it in my every day actions.  I decided that my core leadership philosophy was to pursue only what I am personally passionate about, what challenges me every day, and helps me grow.  I decided that if I could live up to that leadership vision, then I could find a team of people who share the same passions and are inspired to work everyday on something that challenges them.

My biggest goals for the next 2 months are to raise seed money and to build out the KLUTCHclub team.  I would love help from anyone who has expertise in these two functions and can point me to the right resources.  I am excited to be a part of the thriving Chicago start-up community!

Get ready,

Julie Bashkin

Founder and CEO