For two Shark Tank entrepreneurs, necessity was the mother of invention. The former roommates behind Three Jerks Jerky were unhappy with other brands of the classic meat snack. So, they got up off the couch and made their own. As The Los Angeles Times reported in May of 2014, Jordan Barrocas used the dehydrator he’d once received from his mother to turn rib eye and beef tenderloin into homemade jerky.
They were soon doing brisk business out of the apartment. Eventually they signed on with a co-packer. According to co-owner Daniel Fogelson, ensuring they maintained the quality of the jerky was a long but necessary process.
“It took almost a year to duplicate the process of what we did at home. We wanted to make sure it tasted like the homemade jerky we made in small batches.”
The Times reported that the Three Jerks Jerky is softer and moister than a typical convenience store brand. The meat is seasoned, and the final product has what the Times described as “thin veins of fat.”
When Three Jerks Jerky appeared on Shark Tank Friday, they got the inevitable question: who was the third jerk? While they told the Times it was the jerky, the Miami Herald reported last week that there was a third partner, but that individual is no longer with the business.
“The rest is kind of obvious — we’re nice guys most of the time but also jerks sometimes.”
By the time the Shark Tank segment had concluded, viewers learned that the company had taken on a new partner, clothing and branding mogul Daymond John. Celebrating the news the day after the episode, Three Jerks Jerky posted a photo of John to its Instagram page, with the caption, “Couldn’t be happier to welcome @thesharkdaymond as our third jerk!”
As Empty Lighthouse recalled in its recap, John eventually gave the guys from Three Jerks Jerky $100,000 for 15 percent, which is what they had originally asked for. It wasn’t until after Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec also made offers. Mark Cuban was out, saying the jerky business was just too competitive.
The entrepreneurs defended the premium cost of their jerky — $11.99 for a 2 oz. packet, according to their website — by arguing that they sell a premium product and are reluctant to reduce the price point. In addition to touting their jerky as made from “filet mignon,” it’s also gluten-free, nitrate-free, and contains no artificial ingredients.
There is another option for jerky aficionados — a kind of “jerky of the month club,” where a three-pack of the product is delivered on a monthly basis at a steep discount over the single pack price. Customers have a choice between several flavors: original, Memphis BBQ, chipotle adobo, maple bourbon churro and hamburger. Barrocas gave the Herald a bit more detailed explanation on that last option.
“It’s called ‘I can’t believe it’s not hamburger.'”
In addition to website sales, Three Jerks Jerky is available in 120 shops and hotels. The business has grown by 150 percent over the past year, in part because of Barrocas and Fogelson’s willingness to put in some elbow grease. They ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and took their product door-to-door in order to get the ball rolling.
Shark Tank next airs Friday at 9 p.m. on ABC.
[Main photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images]