City: Nashville, TN
Entrepreneur: George Livingston, Sweet Meat Jerky
Nashville, also known as “Music City”, is a special place where creativity and energy are woven into the DNA and social fabric of the community. The entrepreneurship ecosystem is burgeoning, with individuals itching to turn ideas into businesses. This city possesses a culture that values individuality, and the people seem to maintain their sense of purpose and character in everything that they do. Sweet Meat Jerky is a shining example – a man equipped with more guts than capital and who is determined to turn his family recipe into a national brand.
George Livingston, 24, is a music lover, an Arizona native and the founder of Sweet Meat Jerky. Like many, he came to Nashville and fell in love with the city’s charm and energy. George turned his recipe into a business that has amazing potential to compete alongside much larger players in an emerging subcategory of jerky. George and others are changing the way we think about the snack and showing us that it can be a healthy and delicious (not to mention addictive) option for just about anyone. Although jerky is popular in Nashville, many of us still thought of the Slim Jim sticks that we used to barter in grade school. After spending a couple of days with George, we were enlightened…and hooked.
As millennials, we are increasingly discerning about our food and how it makes its way onto our plates. How was it sourced and from where? Was it raised and produced in an ethical and sustainable way? Sweet Meat comes from free-range beef and uses only the highest quality organic ingredients sans additives. The company stands out in that it adheres to the highest standards of organic food production.
Sweet Meat is comprised of a lean team: George and his girlfriend Lexi. We were deeply inspired that such a young entrepreneur was so quickly able to achieve what George has. Sweet Meat Jerky can already be found in various stores in Tennessee, including Whole Foods across the Southern US region. The dynamic duo will be embarking on an 11-week RV road trip throughout the region to promote Sweet Meat in Whole Foods stores and at key happenings in each city.
This Southern US tour was our opportunity to have an immediate impact on the business. We comprised a near term strategy to optimize the return on time and resources invested in the trip. We urged him to focus on the cost to acquire each customer as well as their lifetime value. In addition to a high-level roadmap, we worked with George to brainstorm the right “on the ground tactics” to use in each city. The team also focused on how to stir excitement before arrival and how to keep people engaged with the brand long after George and Lexi leave.
In addition, we developed a forward-looking business plan along with a guide that outlined various funding options that may be suitable for George in the future as Sweet Meat grows.
George was deeply engaged along the way as we worked together to equip him with more tools than answers. From him, we saw just how challenging it is to run a business as the underdog, but also how rewarding it is to live your dream every day. Many of Sweet Meat’s competitors are flush with resources, but George is proving that he is a serious contender. In the words of MBAx teammate Neil Wusu, “In the world of business, Goliath often wins. So now, it feels really good to help David.”