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Marinating passion into business

Student develops beef jerky craft

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For junior Joshua Welborn, nighttime isn’t solely for sleeping – it is also for cultivating his beef jerky business.

“Me and my dad have always liked beef jerky and we just thought it would be kind of fun, something to start together,” Welborn said. “And now I just have a hobby.”

Welborn started in mid-January with a dehydrator and a passion for beef jerky. After he found that other people enjoyed his product, he began selling it.

photo provided by Natalie Horn

Welborn uses eye of round beef. To prepare the meat, he cuts off the fat.

“I brought some for my boss, Addison, to try at work and he was like, ‘This is really good, I’ll buy some from you,’” Welborn said. “He was the first person I sold to. I thought that it would be a good idea for other people to try it and see what they think, and it just took off from there.”

Welborn’s most loyal customer, senior Chris Braman, started buying the beef jerky when they shared second period Outdoor Education.

“I found out that he was selling beef jerky, and me being a football player I eat a lot, and he sells it at a pretty good price,” Braman said. “Usually the days that he doesn’t have any, I give him five or 10 bucks, just so I have a little pre-order coming in. I buy about one or two every time he comes in.”

Welborn has four different kinds of beef jerky, and made his own marinade for each.HALDEN

“It’s really just guess and check,” Welborn said. “I looked up a recipe online first and made that. It wasn’t quite how we wanted it, so I would add more of certain ingredients, and subtract others that I thought were too strong. It took about a month to get the final recipe.”

Now that he has the final recipe, Welborn is focusing on expanding his business clientele through his Remind 101 account and word of mouth.

“When I talk to people and I let them try, like I have sample bags, I give them a business card and tell them the Remind information, where I let people know when I have it,” Welborn said. “I’m just trying to spread the word about what I’m doing and make people aware of when I have beef jerky so they have the opportunity to buy it.”

PROCESS OF MAKING BEEFWelborn’s girlfriend, junior Natalie Horn, has seen the process develop from a hobby to a business.

“First it started out with just having the dehydrator and doing it kind of just as a family thing,” Horn said. “I would help slice the meat by hand and then over time, he got more money and he was able to buy a meat slicer and get more equipment to be able to expand his business.”

With about 30 customers total, Welborn has begun to have a business mindset by learning the real life effects of supply and demand.

“I’ve learned about trying to get the price right versus the quantity,” Welborn said. “I started out selling 5 oz. bags for $10, but recently I switched to 2.5 oz. bags for $5 because I realized that not a lot of people carry cash on them. It seems more affordable and more people are likely to have $5 rather than $10. So just trying to figure out what people are going to take to the most, and what they think is the most acceptable.”JOIN REMIND

Along with altering his prices and recipes, Welborn look toward a future of improving his equipment.

“I think that I could always get better tools and packaging,” Welborn said. “I’ve been thinking of getting a vacuum sealer. That will increase the life expectancy of it, it will last longer and it is more professional looking.”

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Marinating passion into business