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Former Buckeyes make it big in the jerky business

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Owners, Max and Zach Zitney with their CEO Jack, the dog,  pose for a picture. Courtesy of Zach and Max Zitney.

Owners, Max and Zach Zitney with their CEO Jack, the dog, pose for a picture. Courtesy of Zach and Max Zitney.

Most students spend their time in college trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. But for some, college is the time when they jump-start their dreams.

Former Ohio State students Zach and Max Zitney began their company, JerkyXP, during their time as Buckeyes, and are now working full-time to keep their jerky delivery company successful.

JerkyXP is a delivery service marketed to gamers that delivers jerky monthly to its subscribers.

With every order, members are also entered into a monthly XPansionPack giveaway to win $1,000. The brothers recently were awarded the Chase Mission Main Street Grant for $100,000.

JerkyXP is one of 20 companies out of 35,000 applicants to win the grant, which it plans to use to provide second-chance employment opportunities in its warehouse and distribution locations.

“We would give them a place to work where there would be no drugs and no alcohol. Our whole mission is to give people a second chance, basically,” Zach Zitney said.

Another way that JerkyXP is setting themselves apart is with its CEO, a Yorkshire terrier named Jack. He is well known among customers and travels to every event with the company, even during the Zitney brothers’ trip to The Lantern newsroom.

“(Jack) likes going to events, he likes meeting people and he loves taking pictures with everyone. He’ll sit at our booth and you can come over and pet him and pick up some jerky,” Max Zitney said.

While their operation consists of, as they said, “three humans and one dog,” the brothers are quick to credit some of their success to what they learned at OSU, both in classes and in the Business Builders Club.

“You’re at one of the biggest campuses in the United States and probably the world, so make sure you’re making connections with as many people as possible and don’t let any opportunities pass you up,” Zach said.

Former Business Builders Club President, Jake Larkin, said in an email the brothers embody everything the BBC tries to teach students at Ohio State.

“When I first met Max and Zach, I could tell they would never be satisfied with the traditional career. I could tell that even if it wasn’t jerky, they would find another avenue, but I’m so happy it is jerky … because that stuff is delicious,” he said.

Rosemary Garry, president of the Business Builders Club, said the brothers are perfect alumni.

“They’re doing something great for the community,” Garry said. “They’re doing something great for their business. We couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Looking to the future, the Zitneys are looking forward to putting their grant money to use and implementing their second-chance employment policy, as well as adding more products to their line.

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