Chances are, if you’re a sentient human being living almost anywhere in the United States, you have seen a display of Krave Jerky, with the stylized running man on the package and a label advertising one of eight different exotic flavors, any of which was previously unheard of in the heretofore stagnant world of dried meat.
You’ve seen the package because Krave is now on sale in Safeway and Whole Foods and Costco and Target and Lucky’s and Raley’s (to name a few venues) and even in a souvenir shop on the side of the only highway in Key Largo, Fla.
It’s tempting to say that Krave is an overnight success story, one of the most spectacularly impressive start-ups ever born in the Sonoma Valley. But that’s only partly true.
First of all, Krave began life as an assignment for a graduate class that founder and CEO Jon Sebastiani was taking in the combined UC Berkeley-Columbia University MBA program, following an epiphany during training for the New York Marathon. He liked eating jerky as a low-fat, high-protein snack, but he didn’t like the jerky he was eating. So he researched the industry, all the while learning about market disrupters in the classroom, and soon decided there was ample opportunity for a disruptive dried-meat product, with creative flavor profiles, that could shake up a billion-dollar industry.
It didn’t happen overnight, but at the end of his MBA program, two of his Berkeley professors took Sebastiani aside and told him that, not only did he get an ‘A’ on his final exam, they wanted to make a six-figure investment in the company. It was a safe bet.