Alex Krakoski was finishing high school in Switzerland on a scholarship when he ran short of money, and that is when he got in touch with his mother and asked her to send him the jerky recipe.
This was not just any beef jerky. This was the jerky his mother made for him as a kid using the best natural ingredients.
Describing what makes his mom’s jerky so special Alex said, “My mother was a dedicated cook and didn’t want me to eat junk food, so she would make this really good jerky with steak, fruits and vegetables and spices.”
Alex started making his mother’s jerky in Switzerland for about $3 a pound and began selling it to his fellow students for about six times as much. That generated the cash he needed for the trip back to the United States and it planted a seed that has grown into Worthy Jerky, a business that Alex and his fellow Cornell University classmate Benjamin Pham founded and continue to operate with a management team comprised of several other Cornell students.
Worthy Jerky is one of the newest members of The Business Council of New York State.
As with most startups, there is an idea guy and a business guy. Alex is the CEO and idea guy. Ben is the COO and business guy. Other students handle product development, creative strategy, public relations, finance, manufacturing, distribution and marketing.
Alex describes the nutritional value of Worthy Jerky as comparable to Chobani Yogurt in that both are made from natural ingredients.
The jerky caught on and Alex and Ben faced the happy decision of how to grow their business. “We had a choice to make,” Alex told a member of The Business Council staff during a recent visit to Albany. “We could drop out of college, open our own facility and produce jerky, or we could find a contract producer to make and package our jerky.”
They decided to stay in college and found a company in Sherill, N.Y. to handle the manufacturing and packaging of Worthy Jerky. Worthy Jerky is now sold in the Cornell Campus Store and P&C Fresh supermarkets in Ithaca and Cortland.
When this team of Cornell students graduates next year, they will not only have college degrees, they will have a business that is poised to grow and a fantastic experience with capitalism.
Visit Worthy Jerky’s website for more information.