Alex Krakoski – Worthy Jerky ’16

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What is the mission of Worthy Jerky?

The mission of Worthy Jerky is to provide the highest quality snacks to help fuel personal growth and achievement. Our team firmly believes that what you put into your body heavily influences your ability to perform to the best of your ability in any setting. This is why we marinate our Angus steaks in fruit and vegetable marinades that are free from nitrates, preservatives or other artificial additives to make the best snack available.

Talk about the Cornell connection to Worthy Jerky

The majority of the Worthy Jerky team is made of Cornell students and we are a proud company that’s part of Cornell’s eLab program. The fact that we are a Cornell based team allows us to leverage the resources and relationships that the University has to offer, which has made business operations a lot smoother and easier.

The team consists of:

Alex Krakoski – Major: Chemical Engineering / Minor: DBME

Benjamin Pham – Major: AEM

Camille Kapaun – Major: Food Science Operations / Minor: Nutrition

Justin Siegel – Major: AEM

Chandra Yueh – Major: Food Operations and Management

Brenda Margolies – Major: Food Science / Minor: Nutritional Science

Jim Li – Major: Psychology and Economics

AJ Schonenberg – Major: Chemical Engineering / Minor: DBME

Daniel Yoon – Major: Economics

David McDonald – attending University of Florida for Accounting

How did you come up with the idea?

I was lucky enough to finish high school at Leysin American School which is an international boarding school in the Swiss Alps. I completed the IB Diploma program there and made friends with kids from over 60 different countries! Leysin is near a prominent ski resort, so skiing and snowboarding were a huge part of our curriculum.

A lot of people complained about how they didn’t have a durable, filling snack they could take with them on the slopes, and I needed a way to get some pocket money so I asked my mom to make the same jerky she used to make for my lunch box when I was a little kid. Sales started out slowly but after a couple weeks I was struggling to keep up with demand. I began to work with my Mom to learn and master the recipe. I then started to experiment with other flavors based on feedback from my customers and expanded the product line. I made enough money to fund all my flights home and even a couple vacations! Turns out, it was a very lucrative business in Switzerland and I saw it could be easily translated to Cornell.

I decided to expand the business from a small kitchen operation to something more substantial. The root of my business was to provide financial security when I needed it – I keep that in mind today; to ensure other students at my school would not be held back by financial strains, I donate a large percentage of my sales revenue to a scholarship student fund at my school. To continue this initiative of giving back, we are in the early stages of a partnership with GiveAndSee.org which is a crowdfunding platform for student scholarships to help offset student loans. Hopefully, we can help amazing students through school without having to worry about financial burdens and they can focus on things that really matter most.

When was the firm started?

Technically, I started selling my jerky at the beginning of my junior year in high school (2010) but I didn’t start aggressively expanding the business until the second semester of my freshman year at Cornell (2013).

How many students are involved?

Currently, there are 10 students involved. The team is very diverse and this adds to our strength because we can get a lot of different perspectives from within the team and it allows us to make well informed decisions.

Are you currently recruiting?

We are not recruiting at this time.

Total number of employees?

We are a team of 10 students

Where are you based?

Ithaca, NY with the intention to expand nationally in the coming months

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