Investment Opportunity: Seed Funding Stage
At a Glance
Company: BāKIT Box
Year Created: 2020
Mission: Supporting customers’ journey towards cultural awareness, understanding, and appreciation through globally expansive baking adventures.
Target Markets/Audience: Families with kids under 18
What Makes Shelley Unique
Shelley Gupta grew up watching several family members run their own businesses. The thought of following in their footsteps was always in the back of her mind, and she’s well-equipped to handle the high-risk and high-reward balance of entrepreneurship. Before launching her BāKIT Box subscription service, she had a career as a recording artist and founded the Chicago nonprofit Guitars Over Guns: RISE, which mentors and empowers inner city youth through music education.
In addition to filling a gap in the baking market, BāKIT Box offers customers the chance to have a creative experience in the kitchen without the stress. This means giving people the opportunity to share an activity and create new memories with loved ones.
“My aim with BāKIT Box is to allow people to step into the kitchen without a screen, be fully present and share that experience with their family and friends,” Shelley says.
“Be a sponge. Absorb information and knowledge from everyone around you. And show people that you are coachable, because people are going to want to help you if they know you’ll listen to their advice.”
What Shelley Is Trying To Solve
Although there’s no shortage of meal kit services and activity boxes, there’s no service created specifically to ease the challenges of baking from scratch. BāKIT Box is designed to take the intimidation out of baking and make it both fun and accessible for anyone. Subscribers receive a new BāKIT Box every month featuring the recipe(s) of their choice, along with all the necessary ingredients. Recipes range from sweet to savory and are inspired by food from around the globe.
We sat down with Shelley to talk with her about how she got her start as a founder, what her seed funding stage has been like, and how GET Cities has helped.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
Like many others, my business partner and I baked constantly throughout the pandemic. One day we went on a mission to bake a peanut butter chocolate cake. Well, what should’ve been a simple task ended up costing $80+ for all the ingredients, hours spent finding the recipe online and even more time deciphering the complicated steps.
After that experience, I became acutely aware of the gap that exists in the baking market. There’s no easy way to make baked goods if you want to go beyond using a pre-made mix. BāKIT Box was created to fill that gap, while also providing the option for diverse, ethnic recipes and ingredients from all over the world.
What is unique or significant about being at the seed stage?
For me, the seed stage represents one of the most exciting aspects of being an entrepreneur. The company is still malleable in this phase, meaning you still have the ability to use your creativity to adapt to the needs of your customers or the market. For example, BāKIT Box has gone from providing perishable items to now providing dehydrated dairy, and expanding our shipping options to reach outside the continental U.S.
This stage is where you get to carve your own ideas, and your product can completely change based on one piece of data. That’s the fun part of being an entrepreneur. You can listen to the market and your customers and make the necessary changes to adapt.
What do you wish you’d known or done to prepare for the seed stage?
Although I remain open to change and being able to adapt is important, I have learned not to try everything all at once. It’s better to hone in on a few things you want to try and shift whenever necessary, rather than experimenting in several different areas. I can get farther and be more successful with experiments when I try a smaller amount of them.
Why do you think it’s important to encourage more women, trans, and non-binary people –particularly those who are also Black, Latinx, Indigenous and People of Color – to become entrepreneurs?
Representation and diversity in entrepreneurship matters, and right now, I feel it’s a pivotal time to be a woman entrepreneur. Women see the world in a different way, and it’s crucial that our perspectives are included in these spaces. Now that diversity and inclusion initiatives are so prevalent, I feel that the rest of the world is finally starting to acknowledge it as well.
Entrepreneurs today are building businesses that are solving problems for the general population, and the general population is a mixture of races, colors, sexual preferences, etc. The entrepreneurs need to reflect that, too, in order to really solve those problems. Of course, I look forward to a future when women, transgender, non-binary and people of color entrepreneurs aren’t regarded as "underrepresented" in this industry.
What made you want to participate in this cohort?
When I heard about the Seed Founder Cohort, I was immediately on board – both from the perspective of providing my own insight into the best ways to support founders, as well as gaining access to new resources for my company. I have appreciated all the efforts involved to figure out how to help us founders. I adore the people and have loved working with Nima and the leadership team.
What would you say is the most valuable tool, connection point, piece of wisdom, etc. that you’ve gained from working with GET Cities thus far?
I am grateful for the opportunity to network outside of Chicago. My goal has always been to connect with the major players outside of this city, but I’d never been quite sure how to begin. Now, I do.