Two 2013 Venture for America fellows are currently developing a new meat-based snack.
Chris Hikel, who works for the Business Backer
, and Oliver Li, a Roadtrippers
employee, began making Cowsciutto
as a side project after Hikel returned from South Africa in 2011.
"We thought, 'What if we could reinvent the meat snack?'" Hikel says. "So what if, instead of having a chewy, cooked kind of thing, we could kind of bring cured meat back?"
While living in South Africa for five months, Hikel became inspired by the various cured meats—especially biltong, a common snack in the region.
"Just as I was getting ready to leave South Africa in November 2011, I thought to myself how sad I would be that I would not be able to get easy access to good cured meat," Hikel says. "I was going to have to go back to jerky."
While Hikel and Li helm the project, a number of other VFA fellows have contributed to different facets—including Jack Farrell, Chelsea Amsley, Anh-Ton Tran and Matt Fulton.
"We've found that the OTR startup community has been extremely supportive," Hikel says.
Cowsciutto is cured during a three-week period, and is currently produced in three flavors: bourbon barrel smoked pepper, chili medio and roasted coriander. All spices come from Colonel De's Gourmet Herbs and Spices
at Findlay Market
"It would be awesome for people on paleo diets, because it's pretty much pure protein," Hikel says.
Cowsciutto will soon be sold online, and the duo plans to build an audience via eCommerce and food blogs, but Hikel and Li hope to eventually see their product on retail shelves.