AN Interview w/ the Founder of A Case of Chicago
Still trying to familiarize myself with all of the great vendors Chicago has to offer, I figured I had to give A Case of Chicago a shot myself. My particular case arrived only a couple days after ordering it and came stuffed with Chicago treats like a bag of Garrett popcorn, Chicago butter cookies, and a package of coffee from the Metropolis Coffee Company. Cases can also include a personalized note free of charge. I spoke with Dennis about where the idea came from as well as what he’s learned while starting the business. Check out the Q & A below.
You can order your very own case through their website acaseofchicago.com and follow the company on Twitter/Instagram at @acaseofchicago
Up until recently I didn't have much experience in entrepreneurship besides an entrepreneurial class my junior year of college. A friend of mine convinced me to go to a Startup Weekend here in Chicago and I was hooked. After that I flew to San Francisco to partake in another startup weekend event based in Santa Clara. Both weekends were great experiences and I knew I wanted to start something myself afterwards.
Q: Where did the idea for the business come from?
Really it came from a combination of places. While at the startup weekend in California a friend of mine told me his plans to start a similar venture in San Francisco. My parents also routinely send me care packages featuring items exclusive to South Jersey and Philadelphia. The cases usually featured freebies and a local newspaper from the area and always brought a smile.
I immediately recognized that the sum of the these local goods in one case is more valuable than the items individually, especially to someone who loves the area. Starting a service that makes these types of care packages easy to send across the country seemed like a great idea.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the process of curating the items customers can select for their case?
I was not the best person to come up with items since I'm not from the area. I knew of the more obvious big names, but to come up with the final list took surveying a number of true Chicagoans. I relied on friends who grew up here as well as some coworkers to help finalize the item list. For instance, one coworker mentioned a friend in Portland has her ship them Ranchero tortilla chips from here no matter what the cost.
Q: Any surprising lessons you've learned about the business in the early stages?
One thing that surprised me most is realizing how many resources I possessed without knowing. I had a family friend help me with the logo design, a former coworker with the website, and an equally enthusiastic business partner in my current coworker and friend, Nick Tammerine. He in turn has leveraged his girlfriend and former college roommate's social media presences to help get the word out about the company. It was interesting to find out I had this network of people who are able and happy to help that I never really knew existed before.
Q: Any plans to expand the concept to other cities?
I have talked to friends still in Philadelphia about starting a company of the same concept there. All have been enthusiastic and I am traveling home this coming weekend to further discuss details.