ENID, Okla. — Jaren’s Jerky is now a reality following the efforts of Jaren and Lester Browne with the help of the Strate Center at Autry Technology Center.
Jaren Browne is a 2020 graduate of Chisholm High School and Autry, who alongside his dad created the company as a way to help pay for college. The business still is at Autry, but there is a goal to eventually be able to sell to companies in the form of wholesale.
Jaren’s uncle, Tommy, had a jerky recipe that he would whip up and bring to Thanksgiving. He would hand out pounds of the beef jerky each year, and with Tommy’s own son not being a cooking aficionado, the recipe was passed on to Jaren. He said he tried it, thought it was “super good,” but felt he could improve on it.
“My dad has instilled kind of a competitiveness in me,” Jaren Browne said. “And I was like, ‘You know, I can probably make a better jerky.’ And me and him over the course of two or three weeks developed our own recipe. And we just started giving it out to friends and family, and here we are today.”
The Brownes began working on their own beef jerky recipe about a year ago, and said about a month or two after developing the recipe, they knew they wanted to commercialize it due to the feedback they received from friends and family.
“We were just giving it to friends and family, and they would usually say something along the lines of, ‘I would totally buy this if I saw it in a convenience store,’” Jaren Browne said. “And we just started researching … a long, long time researching and messing up to try and get ourselves into a commercial place to be able to sell.”
Lester said they just got tons of orders from friends, with people wanting a pound or half pound.
“It really just started becoming overwhelming,” Lester Browne said. “Because we were just doing it for our friends on a small dehydrator and kind of cutting it. So when Jaren decided he thought we could take it to the next step, then I helped with getting more industrial products and equipment. I work for Sysco Foods, so I had a little bit more resources to help.”
Jaren learned about the Strate Center while in the information technology program at Autry. When Jaren’s Jerky was launched, there was not a space available at the Strate Center. Meredith Westfahl, small business management specialist at Autry, called them and told them about the Cherokee Strip Business Model Competition, which provides an opportunity to win funding for businesses just starting out.
“She set us up with a business plan,” said Lester Browne in a press release. “We had already developed one, but they gave us the opportunity to use Live Plan and other applications that they use at Strate Center so we could build a more standardized business plan that matches the other plans that come out.”
Lester Browne said Autry has been integral in getting his son’s business started. He said they made many mistakes in the beginning with not knowing the information or where to find it. The next process for Jaren’s Jerky is to look for a commercial space, which can be aided by Enid Regional Development Alliance, which is located at Autry. ERDA can aid businesses with finding and securing the proper grants.
Jaren Browne described the beef jerky as “simple, delicious and homestyle.” He said after paying for college, his goal is to ultimately set up distribution all over the state.
Lester Browne said the opportunity to support something his son was passionate about was a big reason he got involved.
“Once he gets out of college, he’ll have something that’s his and something that he’s passionate about,” Lester Browne said. “That’s kind of the reason I got behind it. Obviously when you’re son comes and says, ‘I want to pay for college,’ I’m all in. But to have something you’re really passionate and excited about right out of college, that you own and can lead where you want it to go is like everybody’s dream.”
Jaren’s Jerky is only sold at Autry Tech for now, but comes in original, spicy and teriyaki flavors in bags ranging from a quarter pound for $9.99 and a pound bag for $29.99.
Article by: Tanner Holubar, Enid News & Eagle