The Miracle of Kickstarter:
In April 2013, Lawless Jerky was literally lawless. I had beef jerky recipes which offered “A Braver Flavor”; I had a strong work ethic and a desire to shed the shackles of my legal career. But I was an itinerant dehydrater without a USDA-certified kitchen in which to lawfully produce my jerky.
So, on the day I turned 30, I launched Lawless Jerky on Kickstarter with a lofty $12,000 goal. After all, the most ever raised by a jerky project was $6,900. In just one day, we raised that $12,000, and Lawless Jerky eventually raised over $30,000. 683 amazing backers made Lawless Jerky the most backed jerky project in Kickstarter history and made my dream of starting a jerky company come true.
Today, Lawless Jerky is making jerky lawfully; we offer it for sale online and in select retail shops. We are operating frugally…but we are growing!
Developing Our Newest "Braver Flavors": Why This Project is Truly a Sequel
In our original Kickstarter campaign, the fanatic-level reward offered backers the opportunity to have me create a jerky flavor just for them. With several ethnic flavors to translate into jerky, this was as challenging as it was fun!
“Mango Habanero” and “Ma's Masala” were only moderately challenging, owing to an assist from the “Ma” who is the Masala’s namesake. But the Vietnamese Pho and Indonesian Rendang required some due diligence! While I was able to sample several different versions of Beef Pho, I never even got my hands on rendang!
The fifth and final custom flavor was ordered by a self-professed CrossFit junkie, who fueled on a paleo, gluten-free diet. She wanted a flavor that would be lightly sweetened and that would offer Lawless Jerky’s slight twist on a traditional jerky flavor.
Of the five custom flavors, three really stood out:
- Vietnamese Pho, for its spot-on, truly unique flavor;
- Mango Habanero, which, after much tweaking, became the perfect blend of sweet mango and hot habanero flavors; and
- Paleo Pepper, because of its bouquet of peppers and its ability to reach a unique audience.
If we succeed with this project, our Vietnamese Pho will be the only consistently, commercially available pho jerky on Earth (just like our Japanese Curry!). And Paleo Pepper and Mango Habanero will be our first paleo and gluten-free options. Early homemade prototypes of all three flavors have garnered rave reviews.
The Vietnamese Pho includes everything you’d expect from Pho, the dish: basil, cilantro, mint, lemongrass, star anise, onion, garlic, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, jalapeno, sriracha sauce, plum sauce, and rice vinegar…all of these ingredients meld perfectly together, and all you can taste is…PHO! Hungry yet?
While Mango Habanero has a short ingredient list, it packs wide-ranging flavors. Natural mango flavoring and agave syrup give the jerky a sweet mango flavor while keeping it paleo friendly. Mango amchur (the ground up rinds of mango) and rice vinegar give it a bit of tang, and bright orange habanero powder gives the jerky its heat. And (shhh!) the secret ingredient here might be fresh California sun dried tomato powder. Fans of our popular Thai Chili flavor are really excited about this flavor...so are we!
Paleo Pepper contains a custom cracked pepper blend of four peppers (black, pink, green, and white) that I hand-mixed. It also benefits from hints of coriander, clove, garlic, onion, and cayenne pepper. Using organic agave nectar as its sole sweetener, it caters to the Paleo set and, like the most of our flavors, has absolutely no nitrates, nitrites, MSG, or preservatives. I find pink pepper to be really under-rated; it’s so floral and savory. You’ll appreciate that I was generous in my use of it!
Testimonials from Prior Kickstarter Backers
I am a huge fan of all 683 Backers of our first project. Fortunately, their feeling toward Lawless Jerky is mutual! Here is some unsolicited feedback from folks who backed our prior Kickstarter project (none of whom I know personally):
- The jerky came yesterday and honestly, it was so good, it almost started a fight as to who got the last piece!! – Jaimie
- This is the best jerky hands down I've ever tasted. Not even in the same ballpark as the national brands or even local vendors. – Merrel
- You make a great product and I hope you continue to create new flavors and keep the passion…You have a gift, sir. – Benjamin
- This is far and away the best jerky I've ever had and I'm from Texas so I've had plenty. – Justin
- Your stuff is incredible! Choice cuts, the perfect firmness, and finger-lickin' flavors. Fantastic! – Kris
In our first Kickstarter project, we let the Kickstarter community decide whether Lawless Jerky would launch as a company. With a resounding "YES!", the community spoke, and we launched. Now, we're asking the Kickstarter community to scream just as loudly in favor of this new flavor launch.
We are seeking to raise funds through Kickstarter to run test batches of these new flavors at scale, to order all component ingredients for a production run, conduct nutrition testing, to pay for the design of our new labels, and to market/advertise the new flavors. This all proved much more costly than we anticipated the first time around!
Any funds left over will go toward the critical mission of growing the company. If we can achieve national distribution, the added volume will help us decrease the costs Lawless Jerky fans pay per bag and increase the chance that you’ll be able to find it at a retail store near you!
As in our last project, we know what you want more than anything...JERKY! So our rewards will consist of delicious 3-ounce bags (other gourmet jerky companies on Kickstarter have done 1- or 2-ounce bags) of Lawless Jerky's newest flavors, which will initially be available exclusively on Kickstarter.
And if these three, new “Braver Flavors” aren’t all for you, but if you still support my mission to push the boundaries of craft jerky making, feel free to pledge at the YOU CHOOSE TASTING FLIGHT level and create your own assortment including some of our established flavors!
Just as we offered limited edition polos during the last campaign, now we're offering super soft, limited edition t-shirts (see below), created and printed for us exclusively by Bark Tees!
And if we hit our goal of $20,000, every backer at the $35+ levels will receive a free Lawless Jerky spice blend (either our proprietary “4-Pepper” blend or our “Vietnamese Pho” blend); if we break our last raise of $31,777, every backer of $35+ will receive BOTH blends!
The Kickstarter community helped me launch Lawless Jerky. Now, I humbly ask you to help me grow Lawless Jerky!
***SUPER BONUS REWARD!!!*** [added 12/04/2013]
Backers, I've got some great news. As a big thank you for helping us to reach our goal, I'm going to let you all in on making gastronomic history.
A friend in the bovine business, Rachel Leemis of Monty’s Beef Co., has just launched a Kickstarter project surrounding her Piedmontese cattle. This purebred cow species, native to Italy, has genes that keep their meat incredibly tender but also incredibly low in fat and cholesterol. Better than eating Tilapia and without the mercury!
Rachel has agreed to provide me with a limited amount of her special steaks (every bit as prized as Kobe beef) for use in an extremely limited edition jerky made just for backers of her and my Kickstarter projects. Her backers (at $20+ levels) will receive one jerky flavor and our backers (at $35+ levels) will receive a different flavor.
Piedmontese cows are also naturally genetically gifted with extra muscle which increases the protein in every bite of their meat. To my knowledge, no one has EVER made a jerky with Piedemontese cattle before. Another Lawless Jerky first!
Rachel, her cows, and her project are totally worth supporting.
Thank you all so much for your support. I'm just trying to give back as much to you as you've given to me. Love always....Matt
- Filming: Dan and Tom of Up the Mountain Productions
- Film Editing: UCLA's own Jackie Li
- All Fans who submitted questions and testimonials, whether or not they were featured!
- All 683 OG Kickstarter Backers...love you forever!
Risks and challenges
I already have much of the infrastructure of Lawless Jerky (the company as a legal entity, manufacturing operations, and shipping capabilities) up and running, so many of the delays from the initial Kickstarter project should be inapplicable to this one. I will be further fine-tuning test batches of all three new flavors during our time on Kickstarter to ensure the best flavor possible as we produce the jerky at scale. We are in a great place!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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