When people asked nine year old Ricky Hirsch what he wanted to do when he grew up, he said own a business. Didn’t matter what it was, it just mattered that it was his.
In the early-90s, I’d be willing to bet that few pre-adolescents had the inclination to go into the start-up life when they got older. Sure, there were a handful of us who set up friendship bracelet operations at recess, or bugged the neighbors until they let us cut their lawns, but I’m fairly certain none of us said ‘entrepreneur’ when asked about their future career path.
Ricky Hirsch is the anomaly. He wanted to be an entrepreneur from day one – vacuum cleaners, food stuff – it didn’t matter. And now, here he is. Building Think Jerky from the ground up and hustling crazy hard. When I asked him how he skyrocketed Think to one of the top five foods ever backed on Kickstarter, he told me: “I just emailed everyone I could find.” That included a video game blog in Denmark because, as Ricky told me, he’d already run through all the video game blogs in the US.
His hard work is paying off. At 11 months old, Think Jerky is the fastest company ever to find shelf space in Starbucks and GNC, with Vitamin World hot on their heels. The company did $1 million in sales in their first year. And with their aesthetically pretty packaging and slant toward healthy living, they’re positioning themselves to appeal to everyone from the Los Angeles celebrity to the gluten-free hipster:
“In Chicago, where we’re located, we’re in dive bars and we’re in the Four Seasons mini-bar. And we fit in in both places.” – Ricky Hirsch, Think Jerky founder
So, what’d we talk about?
We talk about the future of CPG and why Ricky thinks chef-driven is the next big thing before hopping into how he’s bootstrapped Think, how he thought about packaging and his charity component with The David Lynch Foundation. Ricky says he lives his life by feel, so we also chat about honing your intuition, trusting your gut and, if you think you can do something, just going out and doing it.
Show notes [times are approximate]:
Ricky’s background [1:52]
Why jerky? [5:46]
The importance of being chef-driven [9:09]
Bootstrapping start-up [12:22]
Re-thinking packaging [14:18]
Ricky’s food philosophy [16:09]
Charity component [19:17]
Hustling for Kickstarter campaign [23:29]
What hasn’t worked [25:44]
Prioritizing what to go after [28:06]
What’s the vision beyond jerky? [29:50]
Trusting your gut and honing your intuition [31:43]
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