Founder Spotlight: Jason Burke

Growing up, Jason Burke was no stranger to delectable food and the sense of community that comes with a good meal. Unbeknownst to him at the time, Jason’s reverence for family-style foods would ultimately be the catalyst for The New Primal, which aims to get more hands in the kitchen and hearts around the table. The leading health-forward and thoughtfully crafted food brand recently shared record-breaking sales numbers and growth figures, including 50% growth on Amazon in the last 52 weeks alone.

While The New Primal began with meat snacks, the business has successfully expanded into over 30 products, spanning categories like sauces, seasoning, and dressings. The market has spoken, and there are no signs of slowing down for the clean eating platform. Founder and CEO Jason shares how following his instincts proved there was a market for his extensive mix of health-conscious snacks and condiments.

1. Tell us about your journey to product/market fit. What advice do you have for founders actively pursuing this?

For me, it started with snacks. I wanted clean, high-protein snacks without a lot of sugar (to keep me away from the candy bars), and they were a rarity. Beef jerky had always been known as a satisfying and high-protein snack, but “grass-fed beef jerky” didn’t exist. When we entered BBQ and Wing Sauce, we couldn’t find any BBQ sauce without loads of sugar or Wing Sauce with a clean label. So we decided to make our own. Realizing the market was underserved in a category consumers consistently shop, it seemed like a no-brainer to offer an alternative.

When I realized grass-fed beef jerky filled a need for a lot of my inner circle, I put the products for sale online. When I realized we were filling a need beyond my inner circle, I knew we had a product fit and a market that was ready for what we were making.

My best advice is to first start with gut-instinct and the areas where you are being underserved. Do not force creativity; simplicity and authenticity always win. Make something uniquely delicious and simple that fills a need in your own life. You might realize quickly that it fills a need for others as well.

2. This one’s tongue-in-cheek: What came first, the product or the market? Do products create markets, or do markets create products?

Both? I suppose it’s possible for products to create markets. We didn’t know we needed supercomputers in our pockets, but now we can’t live without them. Consumers have to eat, so there’s always a market for food products, but if I create a lab-grown meat product and try to force people to accept it, will that create a market? I don’t think it will. Shifting consumer behavior like that is almost impossible.

In my case, there was already a market for each category we serve. People were already consuming those products – I just decided the offerings available were either a) not good enough or b) alienating to certain consumers. At the time we entered, no one had crossed the threshold of something better-for-you and tasting good in those categories. I was in the market, but the product didn’t exist. So, I think the market comes first. Maybe.

3. What are some telltale signs that you’ve achieved product/market fit?

In the early stages of our business, product/market fit was simply a measure of how many inbound messages I was receiving to place orders. I knew we were on to something when people were referring me to their friends and family. When the local newspaper wanted to interview me about what we were doing, it further validated our assumptions.

If you’re selling online, repeat buying rates or subscriptions are easy to track and can validate product/market fit. If you’re selling in physical stores and have access to data, you can see if velocities are steadily increasing.

Outside of those examples, some other anecdotal ways to validate early on could be user-generated content where consumers are talking about and sharing your product with their network. Others include inbound PR interest, and potentially how long the line is at your booth at an industry trade show.

Once you realize you have product/market fit, it’s time to run fast because the copycats will undoubtedly emerge.

4. How do you recommend founders make the most of initial momentum?

Focus. It’s so simple and yet, elusive. The trap is that we want to go wide and do everything at once. We want to launch a ton of products, enter new categories, and expand into new channels all at the same time (we did all of this). We hear everyone’s opinion about which channels or retailers we “should” be in and we chase all of them — which can be problematic.

We were just scratching the surface of Natural Channel retail sales when we started selling into Conventional retailers and pitching convenience stores. Not to mention, trying to limp along eCommerce, all while launching more products. You simply cannot do all of those things at once in the early stages, or maybe ever.

Pick a channel. Pick a core set of products. Commit to it, stay focused, and go deep. Obviously, pivot when things simply aren’t working and listen closely to consumer feedback, but focus and going deep trumps going too wide every time.

5. Any additional thoughts you’d like to share?

Another motto we live by is to not let perfect get in the way of good. We’ve always tried to make something really good and iterate quickly. The bigger you get, the harder it is, but I think you can test products, get feedback, make improvements quickly and keep moving rather than wait on an 8-month consumer study to give you the feedback you need to get started.


About The New Primal

Since its origins in grass-fed, pasture-raised meat snacks, The New Primal has innovated with intention, but never compromised on our core mission. With a belief that healthy eating is more than nutrient-packing, we source carefully, package consciously, and flavor thoughtfully. Portable proteins that offer tasty fuel on the go, while sauces, seasonings, and dressings made from the smartest, simplest ingredients lure you back into the kitchen. At The New Primal, our inspiration is always renewed with the notion that healthy gets humored, but delicious gets devoured. You are what you eat. Choose Wisely®. Learn more at www.TheNewPrimal.com

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