zach martin entrepreneur

Zach Martin Entrepreneur: How he Turned His Idea into Reality

Elena Hudgens
By Elena Hudgens 10 Min Read

Zach Martin is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of Boston-based startup, Krave Jerky. He believes that if you have an idea, you should act on it or be left wondering “what if” your whole life. Zach’s true passion is building companies and giving them the best chance to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. He has seen exponential growth since his company’s launch in 2009 with over $3 million in revenue in 2015 alone. Zach also enjoys investing in startups and provides mentorship for fellow entrepreneurs. Here, is the story of how Zach turned his idea into reality.


What are you passionate about?

It’s tough to pinpoint one thing that I’m passionate about. My passion comes from learning something new and taking the challenge to better myself. If I feel like I can be better, I love to do it. I also love things that make the world a better place. Being a part of something that has a great impact on people’s lives is amazing. I truly feel like there is always a better way to do things and that is what I love the most about business and innovation. What were you doing before you started Krave Jerky? I was in a sales and marketing role for a tech company where I was selling their products to some of the largest and best-known companies around the world. But after a year or so I was still unsatisfied with the direction my career was going, so I decided to quit and start my own company.

The Beginning of Krave Jerky

Zach Martin Entrepreneur grew up in Connecticut with the intention of attending medical school and becoming a doctor, but something unexpected happened along the way. “While attending Dartmouth College, I met an international soccer star on the other side of the world who happened to be a restaurant owner in Connecticut. My partner ended up working with him in his restaurant, and he offered to take us out to dinner and educate us on the business,” explains Zach. One night during dinner, a friend of theirs brought over a bar of jerky, and Zach and his roommate had an immediate passion for the snack. While Zach had never eaten beef jerky, his roommate had grown up eating beef jerky, and it had a taste that inspired the pair to continue experimenting.

Asking for help (Mentorship)

“I think it’s very easy to walk away from a problem and not talk to anybody about it because you’re afraid you’ll have no idea how to solve the problem. I started Krave about ten years ago with my best friend. We were seniors in college and were both in advertising and digital media. We always wanted to start a company but didn’t have the knowledge or connections to do so. I found a hole in the market for a healthier jerky alternative and thought this would be the perfect time to strike. We raised about $300,000 in seed capital and had a lot of great investors on board. When it came time to seek out further capital for growth, I was not interested in the traditional venture capitalist route and went the crowd-funding route with KickStarter.

Sticking with it (Building your company)

What do you do when you have an idea? You can think about it a hundred times, share it with your friends, and daydream about it for days. Or you can take the first step and get it off the ground. That’s what I did. As a business school student at Babson College, I was working with the Boston Consulting Group and also a friend. We had an idea of building a snack that was good for you and would deliver a rush of energy. That sounds like a typical student assignment, but we were at the time building a snack company. This was in 2006 and it had been two years of working on our idea. Then we got our first big investor, and I think he was 100% on board and wanted to see the product built.

Accelerate Product Development

While at an entrepreneurial event in his twenties, Zach noticed a trend that he could take advantage of as an entrepreneur. Many startups did not have the funds to expand their staff, which restricted the companies’ growth and ability to scale product. Zach decided to offer his services as an on-demand manufacturing professional through his website, The Growth Formula. He built a community of entrepreneurs and helped them implement the product to fulfill their needs. The following year he was able to quit his job to focus on his startup full-time. Figure Out Funding Zach Martin Entrepreneur’s biggest challenge as an entrepreneur was finding a good balance between working hard and building his business and staying focused on work at the office and product development.

Follow your gut Instinct

On a cold, winter morning in 2007, Zach sat in his Harvard College dorm room, staring out at the T. His mind was going a million miles an hour. “The night before, I had come up with the idea for Krave Jerky. I had been eating jerky for a long time, and wanted to create my own.” To get the idea off of the ground, Zach took a deep breath and scribbled the initial idea in his notebook, leaving his dorm room with a plan to call Krave Jerky’s new company, Sniffin’ Good, Inc. Zach quickly did his research on how the snack industry worked, built a brand personality for his company, and got started. Partner up With a plan in place, Zach felt that he was ready to get the ball rolling on his new startup.

Networking and Connections

Zach Martin Entrepreneur had always been intrigued with the idea of jerky. A keen on enjoying juicy, non-vegetarian meat without eating a lot of calories, Zach craved a high quality meat snack that wouldn’t break the calorie bank. He dreamed up a small, single serve package of jerky that could be easily enjoyed with family, friends or co-workers. Zach knew that there were high end jerky sticks out there, but there was no jerky to compare them to in terms of quality and price. He spent over six months perfecting the idea, finally testing his first batches in early 2009 with his brother and his cousins in Boston, who were incredibly enthusiastic about his new creation. The idea came to life, and soon Zach and his co-founders were looking for a way to launch their product to the consumer market.

Think Bigger, But Start Small

He started with an idea that had the concept for back in college. Zach had to take a summer class in order to graduate. He was going to college with a very tight budget. He took on an internship with a summer job as he could not afford to work full-time. It was a tough financial situation for him and he had a lot on his plate. He was also participating in the Boston Marathon to raise money for charity. So he needed to bring in some money. And discovered that a lot of his friends were into jerky. Thus, he thought it would be a fun thing to start a jerky company. The first few years of the business were tough, as the company wasn’t making a lot of sales. He had a few employees, but many more college students who were taking classes part-time were involved with the company.

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Posted by Elena Hudgens
Elena Hudgens is an entrepreneur with 10+ years of experience. She started her journey by building her own e-commerce website on Shopify and turned her $1000 savings to millions in just 2 years. Soon she started different ventures in which she failed and succeeded. And now, she's on a mission to help other entrepreneurs with her life and business lessons.

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