Even with her go-getter attitude and ability to rally around others, OfficeLuv co-founder Kathryn Saluke didn’t have her sights set on business ownership when first starting her career in office operations. With behind-the-scene strengths, Saluke serves as a great example of how leadership doesn’t always have to look just one way.
Had it not been for Chicago’s approachability and entrepreneurial spirit, it’s hard to say whether or not Saluke would have found herself in the position she now holds. Originally from a small town in Ohio, she was drawn to Chicago for its Midwest urban charm.
“Chicago is full of hardworking, down to earth and genuine people, which naturally makes it a great place to start a company and make connections,” says Saluke. “Just in the past few years, there’s been a lot of infrastructure built to support and develop business opportunities for young entrepreneurs.”
In late 2014, Saluke co-founded Builders Studios (formerly called Roniin), an incubator that co-founds companies with youngish CEOs, and sets them up with serial entrepreneurs for mentorship and guidance. This allows founders to receive support from within rather than initially rely on outside funding, even providing founders with a salary until he or she can raise venture capital. It was at Builders Studios that Saluke first began brainstorming the idea of OfficeLuv.
“While sitting in a conference room [at Builders Studios], I threw out the idea to make the office experience better,” relays Saluke. “I really didn’t even know specifics at the time, but I knew from prior roles that there are many components to office management that are broken. I previously was the glue in the office, overseeing supply fulfillment, employee happiness, facilities and vendor management, travel arrangements and event planning, all to increase productivity of my team. I experienced firsthand the potential improvements that could be made. The workplace is literally a space, but it’s also a community of people, and we want to build an operating system that tie those two together.”
Officially launching in March of 2015, OfficeLuv raised $3.8 million in funding just one year later. OfficeLuv now offers in depth cleaning and maintenance services to offices in Chicago, and it’s slated to expand operations into Milwaukee and a handful of other markets in 2017. Saluke believes that the cleaning company’s rapid success lies in all the little details.
“We offer a customized clean, which goes beyond the basic trash pick-up and vacuuming. Our service associates are like Swiss army knives—they can tackle an array of tasks like event set up and clean up, mailroom services, supply replenishment, making coffee, order groceries, and more,” says Saluke. “We want to know our customers down to their craft beer preferences and core values. I don’t know of many other cleaning companies who are fulfilling clients’ needs beyond cleaning.”
Now that OfficeLuv has mastered cleaning services, they have their eyes set on finding other ways in which they can improve the office experience, from helping companies create more efficient processes to others factors that go beyond cleaning.
“The one consistency in startups is change,” says Saluke, about why it’s important to go with the flow. “Having a clear strategy and goals are necessities to building a successful business, but you also need to stay agile and open minded [about details and tactics] because things will change.”