We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Kwong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I like to think of myself as someone that is constantly taking calculated risks. Being an entrepreneur is a huge risk in and of itself, and every day is unpredictable—which, for the most part, I love. However, I am very analytical by nature, so my decisions (including the risky ones) tend to be more methodical rather than spontaneous.
During my senior year as a food science student at Cornell University, I actually declined a full-time offer from a multi-billion dollar snack company to found Jack & Friends instead. Turning down stable income to jump into entrepreneurship is definitely my biggest risk to date, but I determined that even if Jack & Friends was a complete failure, the knowledge and skills I would have gained from the experience would be invaluable. The food industry would also always be there for me to return to if I wanted to transition back into a more traditional, full-time R&D role. My passion for my business and everything it stands for, as well as the risk assessment I conducted, ultimately led to my decision to become a founder after graduation—and I haven’t regretted it a single day since.
What should our readers know about your business?
Jack & Friends believes in inclusivity—especially when it comes to food. We are committed to crafting products you can feel good about eating, regardless of your lifestyle or diet, so you can enjoy food without compromising on quality. Our first product line is a plant-based jerky made from jackfruit (the “Jack” in our name) and pea protein that is not only vegan and top 8 allergen-free, but also a good source of protein and fiber with no added sugar to be inclusive of different lifestyles, diets, and allergy restrictions without sacrificing nutrition or quality.
Despite being a completely bootstrapped company with a solo founder, Jack & Friends’ accolades include: features in media outlets like The New York Times, Women’s Health, and TODAY; Plant Based Jerky Product of the Year at the 2021 Mindful Awards; finalist in competitions like Startup CPG Pitch; and more. As Jack & Friends undergoes its first major growth phase, look forward to even more exciting progress and innovation!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m currently based in NY, but frequently visit LA and have a list of favorite spots from my time in the city! Chinchikurin, Hae Jang Chon, Bestia, Momed, Pasta Sisters are great for dinner, while Salt & Straw is a must for ice cream lovers. Highland Park Bowl and Golden Road Brewing are great places to chill. For a friend visiting the area, Venice Beach, Griffith Observatory, The Hollywood Sign, Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood Boulevard, LACMA, and The Getty Center are go-to tourist spots.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the family, friends, mentors, and fellow founders that have extended their love and support throughout my crazy journey with Jack & Friends. Each of them has helped me in different ways and come into my life at different times, but are equally invaluable. I won’t list names (mostly because the list is lengthy, but partly in fear of an accidental omission), but I hope they know who they are and how much I appreciate them!
Jack & Friends