March 27, 2014

Student Startup Provides All-Natural Jerky

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Cornellians behind startup Worthy Jerky are looking to find success by selling all-natural steak snacks — which have more protein and fewer calories than a serving of yogurt — to big name grocery stores such as Wegmans and Whole Foods.

According to Alex Krakoski ’16, founder and CEO of Worthy Jerky, he came up with the idea while attending the Leysin American School in Switzerland. While in the ski resort town, he said he noticed that there was a demand for snacks that could be taken on the ski slopes.“We don’t use nitrates or preservatives or any artificial ingredients at all. What you taste is what you get.” — Alex Krakoski ’16

“I asked my mother to make her homemade beef jerky and send it to me so I could sell it from my dorm room,” Krakoski explained. “It was incredibly successful because I was able to tweak and expand the product line to fit the community’s demands all while using only all-natural ingredients.”

Krakoski said he expanded the business when he came to Cornell and now has a team of Cornell students working for the startup.

Camille Kapaun ’16, head of research and development for the organization, said that the product they sell is steak jerky, rather than beef jerky.

“It’s a top, sirloin cut, as opposed to most beef jerky products that are mystery meats mashed-up like a beef chicken nugget,” Kapaun said. “It’s a real piece of meat.”

Krakoski said he stresses the importance of natural ingredients in Worthy Jerky’s products.

“Mom always told me never to eat foods with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce, which seems to be a good general rule of thumb for avoiding artificial additives,” he said. “We don’t use nitrates or preservatives or any artificial ingredients at all. What you taste is what you get.”

There are currently four flavors — Citrus Barbecue, Spicy Citrus Barbecue, Teriyaki and Raspberry Chipotle — while a new flavor, Coconut Curry, is in the pipeline, Krakoski said.

All of the snacks are between 90 and 100 calories per serving, with fewer calories and carbs and more protein per serving than “widely accepted” health snacks like Clif Bars and Chobani Yogurt, according to Krakoski.

As the startup does not yet have approved packing from the United States Department of Agriculture, they plan to attend a competition at Ithaca College, as well as Cornell’s entrepreneurial event Demo Day, to spread the word about their product before they launch it in stores, according to Benjamin Pham ’16, chief operating officer for Worthy Jerky.

Krakoski said he hopes that Worthy Jerky will continue to expand in the future.

“Our hope is to introduce the product line to hotels, golf courses, fitness centers and other more premium venues where patrons greatly benefit from having a healthy snack option that is more durable than anything else,” he said.