I’m here with Crystal Evuleocha, the CEO and co-founder of Kliit Health and also a member of Launch lane Accelerator.
Tell me a little bit more about your company
Hi, so thank you for this interview. Of course, my name is Crystal Evuleocha. I’m CEO and co-founder of klitt Health or a digital health platform that connects young people as trusted experts.
OB-GYN, nurse practitioners, midwives, sex therapist, and a few other women’s health clinicians to answer their intimate sexual reproductive health questions so they no longer have to rely on Dr. Google. So, I started this company in December of twenty eighteen.
We’ve been running for about a year and a half now. I just for the context of the background. So, I’m an immigrant. So I moved to us in 2010 for college and I essentially come from a very conservative background, never really discussed anything about sexual reproductive health and was navigating this new world, so to speak, and being a different country, being in college for the first time, being recently sexually active and every other thing that could happen to a young person.
Like I said, navigating that, I had a very I would say life-changing experience that happened in that time. So I was, of course, young, relying on Dr. Google for answers to everything. And one particular time you know had unusual pain in my stomach during my period. So, I went to Dr. Google and I found a lot of different resources that are very similar to the pain I was experiencing.
I started self-medicating for cramps, of all things. And fast forward to a few days after my self-medication. In silence, I felt extreme pain. I passed out, was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery on a very different condition from everything I’ve got on the Internet. And of course, this is a, like I said, traumatic, life-changing experience. You can just imagine like someone who’s in college, international students trying to figure out, like school and everything else, and also having to deal with something like this with family in a different country.
Post this experience, I started becoming more, I would say, so to speak, like an advocate for women’s health. So, telling all my friends, hey, let’s go to the clinic with both the Women’s Health Center. Let’s get this. Let’s get vaccines like anything available to us on campus. I was like the poster child for getting it so post in my background, I studied econ and business and college. So, I started my first company called Finola Crystal, making men’s accessories.
It an e-commerce company making men’s ties, bow ties, and things of that nature. And then I still really wanted to do something that had a very huge social impact that was very close to home. Of course, I’m an entrepreneur by heart. I’ve always been I used to do hair and nails and everything in college. I made a lot of money doing those things, but then post running the first company and generating revenue there. I started this company could health and like I said, we launch lane in December of twenty eighteen and we’ve been that same platform to connect women to experts.
Liz: So crazy story, I’m not going to tell the whole thing because it’s way too personal, but after having it, my mom is so my mom is Greek Orthodox and I like you know, she’s a lot of my parents are very liberal, but my mom’s a lot more conservative than my dad is. And I was kind of in a similar situation.
I was given the wrong advice as I transitioned from my youth into adulthood with me with my I guess my primary doctor. You know, there comes a point I can’t remember when kids switched from pediatrics, but it’s way older than what people would think.
People go to a doctor for a long time. So, when I was 20 something. Yeah, I was I remember because I went to my pediatrician when I was a teenager and I just came out. And so, when I told her that I wasn’t being sexually active with guys, her advice to me was that I didn’t need to go to a gynecologist.
Exactly. It was interesting is like one word for it, it was it is kind of like I know it’s mind-blowing, but I guess like there’s even when you go to a doctor, like in person, sometimes you can get worse information that you get from Doctor Google. And so, like for a long time, I had leaned into Dr. Google.
And when I went to college, I learned a lot of things on my own. And I’ve been with the same person for about over ten years and recently became single and dating and not knowing a lot of these things. I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know until I had to Google some stuff, and it’s crazy because I did a lot of volunteer work with Planned Parenthood back in my hometown when I was in high school. And so, I knew, I knew, and I knew a lot of things.
But most of the stuff that I knew about was just like. Heterosexual relationships and sex and I and I didn’t necessarily know about my own body, even for me. So, when I started to go out dating and things, I started to worry about things I never had to think about in a long-term relationship like STDs. And I was just like, you know, well, like how what is it like to get tested? What is it like? You’re like, what’s normal, what’s not? And I also have had just like the worst periods in the past.
And I have plenty of friends and everybody goes to Google. So, I think in many ways I have a deep appreciation for what kliit health represents and what it’s all about. Just coming from the origination story even I mean, it’s is very relatable for a lot of women do not have anywhere to get these answers and have really serious things going on with their bodies. But get Jaquie info just from Google, so. Thank you for that
Crystal: Right for that. No, no. Yeah. Like even Spot. I like even as far as like and this is something, we discuss all the time. Some people go to see a doctor in person and the doctor is one thing, not culturally competent, not aware of what’s going on, assuming a lot of things like assuming you’re in a heterosexual relationship or assuming that your body is the same as every other woman, which is a lot of times, not the case.
You know, different folks that come from different religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, races, and things like that, you know, having to deal with things very differently. And that’s the whole purpose. So our whole thing is around cultural competency and inclusiveness as far as making sure everyone in that conversation feels like they’re talking to someone who truly understands what’s going on because Dr. Google is not going to know who you are or what your sexuality is or anything like that is going to give you the majority of information. Right.
And the majority might not be what is for you because you’re a minority. Right. So just thinking about that in that respect is the reason why we created a platform like this, even outside of Dr. Google is, of course, empowering in the hands of people because you want to be able to go and type and stuff and figure out what could be the case.
However, it is very dangerous in the hands of non-experts like me and you and just every person who searches these things because you would find everything under the sun. So, yeah, so that just goes to say, like, yeah, that’s our whole purpose and point of doing this. So, thank you for sharing.
How did you come up with the name? What made you want to lean into that as a name? I mean, laying into that was you came from a place of, OK, there is a huge need, there is a conversation that is not being had. Our whole point is destigmatizing conversations around these things just in general, because when you think about young people or just people, whenever I say young people like I am referring to young adults, because at the end of the day, like even folks who are like in their 30s, 40s, you would be surprised.
The number of them that don’t know anything about their body, don’t know what the different parts are called, think that vagina and evolver the same thing or just don’t know. They have different holes in their bodies, like our chief medical officer, Dr. Coconspirator. She says she talks to a lot of 30, to 40-year-old who have had children before who don’t know they have different holes in their vagina like there are. So, there is not that conversation being had and the types of conversations are being had around. Yeah, it is my book, like abstinence or just no sex until you’re pregnant. And it’s like, how do you get pregnant? Like how do you get through that process? Like we’re not just created to be pregnant, we’re not just created to be like moms. Not everyone wants to be a mom.
Not everyone is designed to be you know, everyone even has the intention of it. And for the ones who do, making sure they’re prepared. So, when they do want to go through that process of conceiving of pregnancy and then when they go through postpartum, they’re equipped with the help they need. Right. So the whole stigma of being one thing, like even like coming out like a young person being able to say, this is me, this is who I am, this is who I love, this is how I am built and designed.
It’s very it’s not it might not be what the doctor thinks, but it is my reality. And I want you to be able to understand this and treat me accordingly. Right. But to even have that conversation, you have to be comfortable talking, period. And what’s the point hiding behind down there, like your hoo-ha, whatever you want to call it when you can just call it a vagina.
So that is the whole purpose around me. I mean, we have our entire company is built around that. And that’s something that we’ve done actively being able to educate young people, talk to them with language that is not hushed. Just being like this is what you need to do. This is where you need to talk to. And these are the parts of your body that you need to know to be able to have those informed conversations.
Hopes when you first applied on accelerators
What was I hoping to get? So, I was actually when I applied, the thing that drew me to the launch lane was the process of the application. One thing and of course, like the relationships with the universities being that we have a product that we’re launch lane that is specifically for university and college students. Right. So when we thought about when I read everything in my launch lane we saw you had to be a company that’s trying to create jobs in a company that’s doing innovative ideas for university populations and things like that, it just made one thousand percent sense because, at the end of the day, we’re building an ecosystem of clinicians who we’re giving jobs. And those clinicians can mean any state. We would have thousands of clinicians in Philly.
We will have thousands of jobs in New York. So it just makes sense for us, for me as a founder, just going in and saying, OK, I want to join this program, number one, because I want to learn how this ecosystem works. And I want to build something that does create jobs and build something that does work for students. So that’s why I applied this in a nutshell. It all full circle made absolute sense for me to participate in this.
Priorities shifted during the pandemic
This pandemic has been challenging for everyone I know, like within the accelerator, like we have some of the virtual and trying to navigate still building a level of community without seeing each other has been challenging. And that has affected every single sector like we’re in health care.
And there has been a huge move towards the idea of telemedicine and virtual care for folks who cannot go in for typical visits. There’s a lot of moms like I have friends who are there are just had a baby a few weeks ago or currently pregnant or ready to give birth and their partner is going to come in with them.
It is such a challenging time, and then more than ever, folks are leaning to the Internet for information or virtual help because you can’t just walk in and do like a pap smear right now. You can’t do a lot of things that people are being encouraged to do to benefit their health are even getting less and less pushing pushed down to the backburner because of the state of the world right now. What has been good is telemedicine regulations and rules have been relaxed a little bit more to accommodate the current state of the pandemic. And a lot of restrictions have been in telemedicine and the business of health care.
I think what’s been great and what is good right now is adopting and quickly to life as it is. Right. And also meeting people where they are because people are at their homes or on their phones or texting or Googling things and all that stuff. But they still need care and they still need to talk to like an ob-gyn or duller or a midwife or someone on their phone. And that’s kind of where we come in.
A lot of our focus, of course, has been on that university target market. As I said, there are a lot of there’s a lot of conversations around where students are going to go back to school, like what’s going to happen. And these students are paying a lot of money and like tuition.
And of course, like when I think about it, it’s very personal to me because I was an international student. So, I imagine, like people like that cannot go home because you can’t travel home. But now they’re stuck in school and they don’t now have all the resources that they used to have. So for us, our whole goal is kind of like I said, step in there and know exactly when they need it and provide all these resources, because, at the end of the day, life is going on as classes are going on virtually. And your health care shouldn’t stop either.
The impact of working virtually
OK, so it has impacted me in the aspect of I was struggling at first, I was like, can I attend every single session? Because I live in Los Angeles and the program and I did make arrangements for that. So, between myself and my co-founder, Dr. Kim Fraser, who lives in New York and is just a bus driver, car ride away, really attending side by side and working together to do that. And what has happened now is because we’ve moved to virtual, I’m not able to travel. That’s one.
And not being able to travel means I could sit down like this and participate in every single session I can. I mean, even now enjoying virtual more than anything, honestly, because that’s just how life is like our current state of affairs and our new normal, so to speak. So that has been a net impact in terms of keeping me in the weeds. Before the pandemic happening, I was having conversations with the team.
The launch lane team was out OK, like, how do I join if I’m not there? And I know one time when whatever my co-founder came in place of myself, I joined virtually got as well. And it was great, and I enjoyed it. And then the market and everyone had to do the virtual sessions. So, I’m happy about the session.
I do wish we still I do wish we’re able to still do this kind of in person. I feel like there is a huge value in in-person connections. The couple of times that I did come to, you know, in person, I had an amazing time. So, I say that to say, of course, once I say I say, of course, I would love it to come back alive. But for the time being, it’s working out.
How has your company been able to take advantage of any of the two of the 19 related grants or loans, have you been able to apply? Yeah, so we’ve applied for some grants, still waiting to hear back from some of them as far as the loans go, the whole eligibility of the loans and having so for our company, for example, we have a majority, independent contractors. And that verses like the W 2s who are full time who if that was the case and it’s like we file our taxes like a year ago when this happened, yes, we would have been eligible. But being in this situation makes it very challenging for a new company, especially a new company that doesn’t have that stuff yet.
They’ve just hired a bunch of staff and like navigating that. So, you know, I wish it was a situation where based on your staff so like in our company, having over twenty-something people in the company, majority of which are independent contractors. So how do you get loans for those types of people versus the loans only benefiting folks who’ve been in business for like five, six years now?
What about all the folks who probably started now who have profitable businesses but are not eligible for the things that folks who started like two years ago, for example, are eligible for? Right. So that’s just thought around that. But fingers crossed, we’re being very positive, of course, and hopeful that we do get one of these grants. There are so many out there, a lot of them focused on women and minority founders and small businesses.
So, we are taking advantage of that by applying to a bunch of them. That’s kind of really all you can do because everything is so uncertain right now, so taking advantage of the available stuff.
Liz: Yeah, I’m glad you said that, because in a lot of the conversations I’ve been having, people have either tried and given up because like one point, one element just is out of place and it’s not going to work for them, for the federal opportunities.
But you’re right, there are a ton of different programs that are opening every day. There’s something and yeah, yeah, it takes time to apply to these things. But if you do have a lot of contractors, which I’ve had experience with that before, it’s the only thing that someone can do in that situation is help people apply for the pandemic, unemployment compensation.
But that’s but if that’s the case, then they can’t work. Right. So, it’s like you’re stuck in this weird loop where it’s like you want to help the people who fill in those hours for you. But as soon as someone applies to unemployment, they’re losing out one way or another.
They’re losing out on work or they’re not going to or they’re taking work still and they’re not getting paid enough because they’re doing a little bit of both is like such and it’s such a crappy cycle to me. And I’m glad that pandemic, the pandemic insurance are pandemic unemployment compensation. I don’t know PUA pandemic unemployment assistance, that’s what they’re calling it. PUA. I’m glad that the PUA website has opened up for contractors. So, I mean, right now, the great thing is contractors can apply for, insurance for Pennsylvania, I don’t know for California, but I know for Pennsylvania it took a while weeks for them to get a new website up for unemployment for contractors only.
What I think I think people should know it is possible for four contractors to apply for it, but then they still have to you know, it doesn’t help the business. It only helps that person. And then you still lose that. Then they can’t work for you because they’re not getting paid for it. Is it just a cycle? Is it’s just no fun in that kind of way?
So I hope that yeah, I hope there are more people I hope that more people that are in the Decision-Making seats come up with some creative ways to support companies that are earlier stage and haven’t done taxes in the past couple of years yet because they’re new because we need you to be able to continue to thrive. And I would say we’re happy and thriving because, I mean, I’ve seen you pop up on some of my feeds. I feel like doing a lot of things. I feel like you’ve been saying stay busy.
Crystal: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, like it is a new normal, but at the same time you got to keep working, got to keep connecting, and we have to create an ecosystem right at the same time. And that’s the whole goal, to keep people connected in this time and take advantage of the fact that we’re at home like we’re at home, we’re not doing anything.
It’s time for community center building that in this time for innovation, bringing up innovative ideas in this time. There’s so much stuff that has popped up that people are building or doing or what have you due to the current state of the pandemic. So, we do our part to stay busy. And what’s pretty cool about running a startup is the ability to just adapting to change and kind of like it’s not the right like Pivot’s per se, but like pivoting as needed based on growing the company. Right. And just being OK.
This is how the world is today. We’re honored to keep working instead of waiting for when things just back to normal because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of months. It is all very uncertain, but we’re busy or we try to be productively busy and make sure we’re doing things that scale versus just doing everything.
So, we are taking some time, like, OK, what are the top priorities that will move our company to the next level? Is it more about us being in front of more like customers or future partners or whatever it is? That’s what we’re going to do. So. That’s kind of where we’re at.
Experienced you’ve learned in Launch lane
what I have learned is that people don’t know how to be by themselves. A lot of people ask me, they’re like, oh, my God, how are you doing anything? I’m like, first off, I’m an entrepreneur of a startup, like a startup. So, I do spend a lot of time by myself. Like, I, I kind of I mean, you like the interaction and the collaboration from folks that you work within office space, but you are in charge of one thousand percent of your time and your schedule and your day.
So, a lot of people find it challenging to manage their day outside of an office. But that is something, as entrepreneurs, we know how to do. It’s like we know how to manage our day. So, I feel like we’re in this teaching state.
We’re like, let’s you nine survivors know how to accommodate life. And those very same I mean, the thing that I’ve learned running this time is, yes, of course, there’s a lot of collaboration going on and there’s a lot of folks who are coming out who are interested in helping founders grow. And in this time, there are so many resources, like you said like that’s just what I’ve learned from a pandemic. Like, wow, some so many people are doing stuff for founders.
I didn’t know this up until about like, oh, wow, you know, I’ve applied to something. So that’s like if the pandemic didn’t happen, we would have probably not seen this. So that was good. But it’s kind of adjusting and just being able to mental health is one thing because it is hard. You know, not everyone is dealing with this. Well, some people are dealing with serious heartbreak right now, being like losing jobs and being unemployed for the first time in a very long time.
You still have bills like, you know, some people are not eligible for certain types of federal things. So, it’s like, OK, like my tax bracket was high. I’m not eligible for this. But now I lost my job, like, what do I do? So, there is, like I said, an element of heartbreaks that are happening and people struggling in this time.
I mean, the line before facing losing a loved one or whatever it is. So, it has been a challenging time. But at the same time, I have seen a lot of people come together to lift each other. And I think that’s super cool. And that ties into like a watch like really having a community where you can go to and be like, this is the reality of the day. It’s not fun. I’m not going to come here and pretend like I’m a superstar CEO.
I struggle every day and I have things happen. And I want to I’m learning from people who are also struggling in the same way. And we’re kind of building each other up in ways that maybe we couldn’t have been able to do if we weren’t because now you can focus. But there are not so many distractions left and right now, people tend to be more productive when they work from home. I remember when I used to work in corporate and I had like my job, like you would talk to like coworkers were running down the hall, fire drill.
Something is happening all the time. But when I did take work home, I noticed that I was so much more productive, like being at home also folks at my job. But that time that I’m working, I’m going to do more at home versus I’m
Liz: I’m so curious to know what your personality type is because it’s funny because some of the things you say, I’m like. I’m like borderline, I agree with I agree, and then I’m just like, oh, but you know, because I think earlier I was told I was telling somebody how my trouble is my trouble with working from home is I don’t want to be in my house and I don’t want to be I don’t it’s not to say they don’t want to be alone and like it has a home.
There’s something about being able to see as the movement of people, and I am a talker, so like I will say, like for me, a lot of my work is involved like the relationships that I build with people in the community. So, like, if I’m not there, it makes it more challenging.
And one example I gave was when you go to a virtual conference, you can no longer meet someone in that space and step aside and have a conversation and a lot of like the like. Whenever I meet new people, a lot of that happens at conferences or these different networking events. And then, on the other hand, there’s definitely when I was in college, I used to be the person that locked myself in the study rooms and worked alone for hours. And I graduated with honors.
And I feel like I agree with the product, like the productivity level that I have when I’m working on something like administrative-type tasks and I’m like coding or design. I’m like here at my desk makes sense, but like the shift that I made in my work. Like, the way that I run my business is so it’s so heavily leaning on my ability to be able to run into people and that like being able to run into people now, like, it’s just so difficult because you have to be intentional.
And I think it’s I don’t think that that’s also a good thing because you also touched on that like now people have. I think it’s like people. People have the space to think about what they are going to be intentional about and also to have some more empathy for other people because we’re all going through something at this point. I mean, it hasn’t been all bad for everybody, but like, there are a lot of people that have been slammed with a lot of negative stuff during this. I don’t know what I’m going to be able to go home. My mom has lupus and that’s come up in a lot of my conversations.
Just not knowing what’s going to happen is frustrating. But I do think that there’s a lot of lessons, like positive lessons to be learned from working in a virtual world.
Crystal: I am. It is interesting. Like, I am an extrovert. I’m an extrovert introvert if that makes sense because my team so I do a lot of talking. I do. I try to listen as much as I can, but I tend to like talk, talk, talk, and people around.
So, I like to cook food and invite friends and I like that stuff. Right. And even the nature of my job. So being a CEO of a startup, a lot of what I was doing was traveling over or going to conferences, being in front of people. I, I enjoyed that stuff because I was kind of like, you kind of has to do that to be in front of people right. At the same time, because I have that kind of job and that is what I do.
I also fully appreciate being at home because you spend a lot of energy outside doing all these things, of being cheerful all the time and doing this and doing that. And, you know, it is your personality because you’re like a funny person. But at the end of the day, you still need some time to just reflect. And what has happened for me, and this is why I fully enjoy being at home now, is because from January I had done about 20 something trips outside of L.A. and by the time it was February, the pandemic happened and I was no more airplanes. Wow. It felt really good.
So, I started to say, like, that is why I have this perspective, because at the end of the day, like, the world is going to open back up. Right. We know for a fact and we don’t know when, but I’m positive that it will open back up and all the crazy will start again. And once it starts again, it’s hard to switch it off. Right. So being able to just enjoy this time is what’s very important to me. So, I’m like, well, we enjoy it. For example, I had a wedding in June. It got canceled due to covid.
That’s OK because planning a wedding was hard. But, you know, am I happy that there is a slow. Of course, I am. I am upset that I don’t get to gas with my family and friends and have the big wedding. I’m Nigerian, so I had my wedding was going to be large, so, you know. So, is that something I look forward to happening when the pandemic goes away? Absolutely. Do I want to slow down? Absolutely. So is a mixture of both.
Advice for loving yourself
so absolutely crazy times like just taking time pause I know, as we have to a health conference this past weekend. And one of the main things that we did in part of the sessions was a meditation session where people got to breathe and pause.
And by the time I was done with that session, I was like, are we still doing this conference? I’m good, you know. And it was just really you everything. And just being like, OK, it’s good to take a moment and breathe and get in tune with yourself again, because a lot is happening and a lot to take in for just one person right now and then at work and stuff and just appreciating life and just taking things easy, you know, self-care, most importantly, like I never truly had like self-care regimen per se when it came to my mental health or even like my physical as I go to the gym, I lift weights once, once and once in a while.
However, I just I would say like two weeks before the pandemic, I got a peloton and I’ve been writing every other day, and this is the best shape I’ve been in in my life. And I know that’s not the case for some people because the pandemic has been hard on them.
But for me, it’s just like I want to take time. Like if you’re traveling, you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to do any of these things, and you might lose weight, but it’s not the good kind of weight loss is stress. Right. And you might gain weight due to stress. And it’s just all those parts of it in terms of how I stay sane, how do I keep my body in shape and still run a company, do business and be productive in general. So, I, I feel like there’s been good things and bad things. So just trying to appreciate the good ones is my motto.
Things you looking forward to when everything back to normal
Oh, I am looking forward to first doing my wedding and doing my wedding next year. Maybe I would be further back. Absolutely. When you spent all your life, I mean, some people this is me like I’ve wanted to have this wedding and then you are planning for a full year and then this happened.
So, I can’t wait to do it properly. That’s one I also miss, like being in front of folks like, oh, we’re going to do was going to university, speaking to young people like their sexual health or reproductive health and just like their behavioral holistic health care.
And one of the major events that I was supposed to do got canceled the day before because of covid. And that was a bummer because my whole goal is to inspire young people and just share my story. After all, you can share a story virtual, but it is very different when you do it in person. And that’s something I feel like that’s another thing that I haven’t quite loved about this. So, I used to do a lot of pitch competitions and be in front of people, and then moving in virtual just makes things much harder.
It just makes things rather awkward, you know, sometimes. And there are glitches and then there are technical difficulties and all these things. So just going back to just how life used to be, I guess and being I guess one thing that I really, truly miss is hugging people. I’m a huge hugger and I haven’t anyone that’s not my fiancée for a very long time.
What is your superpower? Oh, my superpower. I like the way people feel good. I don’t know, like I, I think it’s just making people feel good about themselves. I, I am I’m like we talked about earlier, like, I don’t have a sister. I’m an only girl. I have five older brothers. So, I am very like, yeah. So, I am very proud of my future. Yeah. So, it’s just me and my mom. It was always like a very mother vibe that I have. So, I just like to embrace people like I’m the young old mom person and I think that’s what it is. And I think it’s just making me feel good about myself that I think.
How can we help you advance what you’re doing with kliit health? Are you looking for additional funding or are you looking for partners? Tell us how they can get in touch with you. Absolutely. So, yes. So, thank you so much. So, we are fundraising right now. It is a pandemic. It has been challenging and it is somewhat a bit. So, yeah. So, we are looking for folks who are, of course, alive at our mission and want to support us in the area of funds. So, looking for university partners to roll out our university too. So, if there is any student health service director or something like that out there that we could get connected with to do a demo of our new product here, I would love to discuss it with them. And also, we always my whole thing is going to download our app. We have clinicians who are there ready to talk to you. So, we always encourage people to go download.
Websites and Social media platform
Yes, my website is Kliit.com, and the university administrators who want to reach out to us its Kliit.com so they can go there and schedule a demo.
Awesome, thanks so much for joining me on this call today, Crystal. This is great away from California in the pandemic. We’re just living our lives virtually. Here we are. And Dave, I can’t wait to see you in person again, and I wish you well going through this.
Thank you so much. This is great.