News / People

Sisters nurture thriving online health business

From left to right: Caley Van Cleave, Whitney Van Cleave, Iliana Pacheco, Chrissie Nims, Maureen McGuire and Frazer Lockhart are the FeelGoodNow team. Photo courtesy FeelGoodNow

Caley and Whitney Van Cleave always have been intrigued by alternative health and wellness. “Our dad talked about it a lot,” says younger sister Whitney (BA ’10). “And living in a place like Colorado, it’s hard not to drink the Kool-Aid.”

So when Whitney wasn’t getting results from conventional Western medicine for a chronic health condition, she started looking for answers from alternative sources. Unfortunately, she says, she found little information about it online at the time. Whitney and Caley saw an opportunity.

“Our original concept was to create an informational resource for consumers on the complementary and alternative medicine health space,” Caley (BSBA ’08) says. No one was surprised, then, when the sisters launched FeelGoodNow, an online portal of information about alternative health and wellness, in 2009 — a year after Caley had graduated from the University of Denver, and while Whitney was still a junior here.

“But the more we talked to practitioners, the more questions we got: ‘How do I market my practice? How do I use Facebook? I don’t know what a tweet is,’” Caley says. The sisters realized that the greater need was teaching practitioners how to market their businesses.

FeelGoodNow evolved into a Web-based company that teaches acupuncturists, chiropractors, dietitians, massage therapists, naturopathic physicians and others how to leverage not just Facebook and Twitter, but also newer social media venues like Pinterest. They help practitioners create custom videos they can post on YouTube and Vimeo. And they still provide a portal for articles, video tutorials and e-books that practitioners can supply to their clients.

What is surprising about all of it is that neither sister — nor any of the four DU alumni they’ve since added to their team — majored in marketing.

Whitney’s degree was in journalism and art. Caley studied international business, and Chrissie Nims (BA ’08) and Maureen McGuire (BA ’09) majored in international studies. Frazer Lockhart (BA ’11) was a film studies major, and Iliana Pacheco (BA ’10) took English and art history. “The fact that we aren’t from a traditional marketing background allows us to perform better. The people we educate don’t have a marketing background, so we have to eliminate the jargon anyway,” Caley says.

And the team’s diverse strengths mean they’re able to look at problems more creatively, Whitney adds. “Social media drastically changed the marketing landscape. Now more than ever, the people who are doing the best job at marketing are those who are genuinely engaged and who are true, real people,” she says.

“We teach our practitioners to add value to every conversation — that if they add their own voice and their expertise, they will grow,” she adds. “That’s where social media excels. It helps a practitioner engage.”

Caley says that although she didn’t major in marketing, her education at Daniels definitely prepared her for the day-in and day-out realities of running a business — from building partnerships and looking for investors to hiring and developing work flows.

“I’m definitely the business geek and really enjoy learning about how a business can grow and change,” she says. “Now it’s more real. I feel the rocks and stuff you have to climb over to get there.”

Whitney is more involved in the media and video side and is still adjusting to the fact that FeelGoodNow is not only helping others grow their businesses, but is a successful company in its own right.

“It’s a crazy thing to be in your early 20s and think your idea is good enough that you commit everything you have going — your own time, effort and livelihood — into your own business,” she says.

In 2010, Caley joined three other experts on a panel at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas, to discuss the evolution of health care online. The conversation, she says, was already much more dynamic than when she and Whitney first started looking for information two years earlier, and it continues to advance.

“You’re seeing a dramatic paradigm shift — people just want to be empowered to manage their health and are looking for tools to do that,” she says.



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