How My Little Magazine Went From a Hobby to a Classic Tech Acquisition

By Jackelyn Ho

In October 2013, my sister Cassey Ho and I decided to start an online magazine. The premise was to provide a platform for people to talk about and discuss the most controversial topics on body image. We were both fitness instructors and after years of seeing our students hate on their amazing bodies, we knew we had to create a media outlet where there was a safe space for non-photoshopped models and articles on positive body talk.

Fiterazzi Magazine was born that month, where I spent a few months learning how to use WordPress, getting authors to contribute articles, and basically making it a fun hobby as I continued to search for a post-graduation “real” job. In January 2014, we finally launched the magazine, made official with one tweet.

The response was incredible. Over the next 12 months, I learned so much about myself and how to run a magazine. I knew nothing before I started, but sometimes you just have to force yourself into the fire and you’ll come out a lot stronger.

Things that I loved about running Fiterazzi:

  • The excitement of all the writers we brought on. Every single person was stoked to be part of a strong vision and message.
  • The community we built. We had great engagement on articles and people always had a story to share about how an article spoke to their heart.
  • We wrote about really hard topics that caused controversy but also resonated with people. Our writers wrote like they were your best friend and that made it easy to read many of our pieces.
  • Feeling like I was making a difference every single day.
This picture was taken after I filmed a video for an application to Y Combinator, one of the most prestigious accelerator programs in the tech world. Yes, we did think about going down that route but no, we did not get accepted.

Things that were hard about running Fiterazzi:

  • Although Cassey and I started out together, she continued on to build her empire and I ran Fiterazzi solo. We didn’t have funds to really hire anyone, so we were very lean. I played engineer, editor-in-chief, marketing specialist, social media manager, google analytics analyzer, CEO, writer, sales team, model, photographer, and intern. It was tiring and I had good days and bad days.
  • Monetization was not easy. I don’t know how magazines do it these days. I mean, I know they have a large sales team, but it is not easy to sell advertising and get people to believe that you’ll really help their brand. We landed some pretty cool deals over the year, but it was hard. I made personal income from teaching 10 group fitness classes a week and dipped into my savings account every now and then. That’s all I have to say about that.
  • Consistency. In real companies, they spend hours drafting out plans from Q1 through Q4, an editorial team to stay on top of all the content, and engineers to build out and maintain the site. I was solo in doing this. Therefore, it became difficult to make sure 3 articles went out a day while trying to change the layout of the site while trying to send new traffic to our articles. Consistency is complicated when you don’t have a partner holding you accountable and helping you meet those goals. There are only so many hours in the day.

So let’s fast forward a year later. To say that I was exhausted was an understatement. I loved what I was doing but, sometimes your greatest love can be your biggest culprit. In February 2015, I was approached by the former VP of Content at POPSUGAR. She was leaving her job and was starting a completely new company — a health and fitness website called Spright. A little bit different from Fiterazzi, but a similar premise in providing good content that people could actually learn from. I liked their vision. After a few rounds of interviews, they made an offer.

Come to Spright to work as an Associate Editor and we will also acquire Fiterazzi.

Ummm… what?!! You know how most real companies have exit plans and business plans and all that important stuff? I had none of that. So to hear that someone wanted to offer me a new job and acquire my company was insane. I had never, ever imagined something like this would ever happen. Contracts, negotiations, and lots of talks took place, but it was all finalized and I was set to start my new job on February 23rd, 2015. Crazy things happen in the Valley.

Here we are a few months later, and as you can tell, I took the deal. Fiterazzi was my baby and it was so difficult to put a price on it. That stuff is never easy, but at some point, you weigh your options and some things just make sense. My goal was to always deliver good stories and I knew that with Spright, I would be able to continue doing just that but with a stronger platform and a lot more support. It was hard saying goodbye, but it feels so much better knowing that I can give you more than I used to be able to. After working at Spright for 2 months now, I can say that all of this is true. I’m surrounded by really smart and talented people and I know that this was the best decision I could have ever made.

A big thank you to my amazing sister who has always been my role model and inspiring me to take Fiterazzi above and beyond.
In addition, my boyfriend Alex, who supported me 150% since day one. He told me I was incredible when I felt like I was useless. He was my biggest cheerleader through it all.
Lastly, a big thank you to everyone who has ever supported Fiterazzi — writers, sponsors, partners, and friends. You have all helped me in so many ways. I am thankful. Come check out all the goods on Spright.