NU alum, CEO discusses food delivery service

Manuel Rapada

A Northwestern alumnus turned CEO attended the city’s first Chicago Ideas Week to learn about e-commerce and scout for new talent for his online delivery service’s expansion into the Chicago area.

Jed Kleckner, Weinberg ’95, runs, a website connecting consumers with local brick-and-mortar businesses. With a name intentionally more general than that of competitors GrubHub and Seamless, Kleckner said can fulfill consumer demand for services ranging from restaurants to grocers to florists, all with same-day delivery.

“The Internet offers access to buying things through websites that could do no better than next day, ” Kleckner, 36, said. “So you can order express, but never same-day.”

Kleckner calls a “local Amazon,” in that it serves as an intermediary between the consumers and businesses. The site earns a commission on all revenue the original merchant makes.

Since 2004, the site has served half a million consumers in more than 50 metropolitan cities. Gross revenues for are expected to double the $50 million it earned in 2010, a projection Kleckner said he isn’t surprised to hear.

“Purchases placed on our site are not cars or homes,” Kleckner said. “These are things that people need, in addition to want, to live their daily lives.”

Kleckner said he attended Chicago Ideas Week not only to attend discussions on the future of technology but also to start building the site’s Chicago-based team, which includes finding a regional manager.

“Conferences aggregate interesting people to meet … who can hopefully connect me with others,” Kleckner said.

An investor from Kleckner’s first company said Kleckner was effective at recruiting qualified people for CrowdBurst, a 1999 start-up centered on spontaneous web chatting.

“Jed didn’t have money to throw at people, but he still persuaded people to come on board,” said Lon Chow, a general partner at Apex Venture Partners.

Kleckner said his past work experiences taught him to “give people a sense of ownership.”

“If you try to do everything yourself, you wouldn’t be able to put a good team around you,” Kleckner said.

One of’s unique ordering programs, on Campus, attracts college students to the site. The program, which allows students to use their IDs as debit cards, has been successful at New York University. Kleckner said he wants to talk to the administration at NU about incorporating the program at the University.

“Students have the right to get whatever they want, whenever they want,” Kleckner said, “as long as it’s legal.”

Kleckner said his favorite food he orders from is the chicken caesar salad from David Burke at Bloomingdale’s in New York City.

“They’ve been good to me,” Kleckner said.

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