“Sumo Jerky”: 24-Hour, $1,000 Challenge

Hey Steppers! Another brilliant one with less than 7 minutes reading time 🙂 We’re gonna analyze Noah Kagan’s startup Sumo Jerky and how he was able to start a business with a $1000 profit already in place… within ONE revolution of the planet. In today’s post:

  1. My insane jealousy rant  glowing review of Noah Kagan’s recent “Sumo Jerky” $1,000 Challenge
  2. The steps that Noah followed, being suspiciously similar to the Shoestring Steps 😉
  3. What I’M gonna do because of it!

In case you’re new around here, Shoestring101 is about taking very little capital and testing, tweaking, growing a business from nothing but an idea.

Once in a while something hits you right upside the head and says, “Look, dummy! THIS is what you’ve been talking about and someone else did a better job of it!”

Sumo Jerky Founder Noah Kagan made $1,000 in 24 hours

Appsumo, OkDork, Sumo Jerky founder Noah Kagan. Beat me to a thousand bucks by 29 days. Jerk.

<=== Most recent example: Noah Kagan of AppSumo did me one better. here’s how:

In a post about a year ago on this blog, I put it out there that I could take less money than a night out to dinner and make a business idea profitable to the tune of $1000 profit in 30 days. It worked; with part-time effort my 14 year old son and I recovered our $62.66 in three hours… and ended up making$1195.33 profit in the 30 days.



Noah had his blog readers vote on a niche biz that he would start and make $1,000 profit on in 24 hours.

To quote Neo in The Matrix after seeing Morpheus take a running jump to an adjacent building…

Even NEO is impressed with Sumo Jerky

Even Neo is impressed with Sumo Jerky.


The suggestions for Noah’s biz opp included a lemonade stand and a salsa of the month. Not sure if that was about spicy food or spicier dancing 😉 but beef jerky… aptly named “Sumo Jerky” was the chosen product for him to make a grand with in one revolution of the planet.

And he DID it. Son of a gun!

If you had asked me how to make a thousand bucks in 24 hours with beef jerky, I think I mighta hung my head in shame. Because that SEEMed like a pretty tall order when I first read about it in an email I got from AppSumo just a few days ago. Sumo Jerky earned over a thousand bucks within one day of its official inception.

But just like with the magician’s illusion… once you see the mechanics and the workings behind the trick, it’s not so special at all. It just takes common sense, some specialized knowledge, and a bit of work.

Kurt vs. Noah: Comparison of Business Startup Results

Now, my own 30 Day Challenge was a year ago. I recently updated Shoestring101 with the status of that business that my son and I started.

I’m happy to report that a few months ago we reached a $500 per day profit level.

But I’d dearly LOVE to see what Sumo Jerky is doing a year from now. I think it may be doing better as well.

Here’s the end result of Noah’s and my challenge:


Kurt profited $1195.53
Noah profited $1135.00

(HA! I WIN!)

Initial Risk… Startup Costs:

Kurt: $62.66
Noah: $7.99

(Okay, Noah, well I had to buy signs and plant ’em. You only needed a domain name. Phbbbt!)


Kurt did it in less than 24 hours… but those hours were NOT in a row… more like six hours every weekend.
NOAH… well, Noah did it in ONE 24-hour period.


Sigh. Reluctantly I admit the winner: Noah. The whiner! ~ME.

S’awright though.

Because even while giving a sound thrashing to yers truly, Noah managed to prove a point: that the principles I based Shoestring101 upon are timeless, universal… and can even be used by young punks.


Kidding, Noah.

Kind of.

The Shoestring Steps and Sumo Jerky

So let’s make a quick flyby analysis of how Sumo Jerky got to $1135 profit in just one day. You’ll want to go to Results of the 24 Hour Business Challenge on the AppSumo site to see all the details, but I’m going to summarize (and add my BRILLIANT analysis to) the highlights here.

Shoestring Step ONE: Get OFF Your ASS

FUN. One thing that impresses me with this challenge, and that we should all take a lesson from, is that Noah seems to have had a great time with this.  One key to motivation is to have fun with your work.

ACCOUNTABILITY. Also, Noah lit a fire under himself by giving this thang a time limit… and GET THIS… telling everyone about what he was going to try and do. It wasn’t just his team at AppSumo that was involved; I was part of the skeptical but curious crowd he bragged to before setting sail.

HUSTLE. Noah didn’t just make a couple of phone calls and put up a Facebook post, then leisurely wait for an order to pop thru on  PayPal. He went ape-stain crazy about getting the word out and following interested parties up for solid commitments. He only had a day to do this, for cryin’ outside.

HOMEWORK. Before settling on price points and a lot of other important details, Noah reverse-engineered the numbers to see what it would take

TEAMWORK. All through the post you see Noah gettin’ help where he could, even to name the site. Everyone vetoed Noahsajerk.com which is funny… I’da gone for it (kidding AGAIN Noah) but he got things done quickly without drawn-out meetings.

Shoestring Step TWO: Find Out The W’s (Market Research)

Sumo Jerky first

“Sumo Jerky” placeholder; this was all Noah Kagan put up and he began to make sales and collect payments. NICE.

KISS. Keep it simple, shoestring. Noah put up a stupid-simple website, essentially a virtual placeholder. I LOVE this; rather than ‘playing bizness’ and getting b-cards made up, logos designed, all manner of bells and whistles… he simply got to the freakin’ point and started sending potential customers to it. Refinements come later, let’s get the customers to pay for and justify them along the way.

Customer Avatar. Noah decided Who he was targeting, which made finding Where they were easy.

Chunking: Birds of a Feather… Rather than thinking only of individuals as customers, Noah targeted whole businesses as well. Knowing that they have budgets for office snacks and that they would be larger customers, Noah went after bigger game. Also, he kept those offices to known health-minded companies.

Shotgun/Laser. Anyone that read my series of “pillar posts” Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget remembers the Shotgun/Laser principle. Noah puts out a Facebook post: “Any of y’all like jerky? Shotgun. Then anyone that responded he would hit with a instant messages talking up his site and what he was doing with it. Laser.

Viral-ation. Noah then put together an incentivized form letter, essentially giving his existing customers both a reason and the means to refer others easily. This took the form of both an email to forward and a Facebook post to share.

Shoestring Step THREE: Learn To CREATE Value

Solve Your Own Problem. Noah is himself quite a consumer of jerky (pause for snarky you-are-what-you-eat reference). So in his own experience, having both a variety to try and having enough of it on-hand is his problem. Off to the races we go… because there have to be other paleo-minded healthy munchmeisters out there.

Identify and Identify With Your Customer. Questions were employed to get to just what would motivate Noah’s target customer to buy.

Product-ize a Service or Service-ize a Product. Rather than simply offering “the best jerky in the world” for a one-time sell Noah turned his jerky company into a subscription. You’re signing up to buy again and again. Plus, people just effin’ LOVE to get things in the mail that aren’t bills. Genius.

Shoestring Step FOUR: Measure Everything You Can

Beginning with the homework sheet above from Step ONE: Get OFF Your ASS, Noah reverse-engineered his numbers. He knew what most expenses would be, going in. But along the way there were metrics to be measured.

(By the way, EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS that I’ve ever personally taken to five figures per month profitability…. or seen anyone else sustain… has taken this particular Shoestring Step. Without it you might still do okay but you are doomed to struggle. As strange as it may seem, this most boring of the Steps yields the most excitement when you start applying it.)

Examples of intelligence gathered for this particular bizness, by measuring things along the way:

Personal Contact. Real-time communication was the most effective way to convince fence-walkers to jump on in and buy a subscription. This larger investment of time up-front will pay off later… as subscriptions require less time and energy to maintain.

Refine and Expand Customer Avatar. Along the way, it was noticed that bigger buyers included offices with budgets for snacks. Go after decision makers in companies. Duh.

WHEN is one of the W’s in Step Two. Finding the right time of day to tweet, to email, to Facebook.

Shoestring Step Number FIVE: Now Write Everything Down

Sumo Jerky: $1,000 in 24 hours Noah Kagan

Zombie Noah. Sorry bro, get better soon.

What will become of Sumo Jerky should Noah get hit by a bus, or infected by a zombie? If Noah were to leave instructions regarding each step of promoting and running SJ, he could rest easy that his employees would get along fine until a cure is found.

While I don’t have any insightful comments to make about the inner workings… the secret “operations manual” for Sumo Jerky that no doubt exists… I’ll say this: It’s valuable.

Step THREE: Learn to CREATE Value is where we create value for others. Step FIVE: Now WRITE Everything DOWN is where we create value for ourselves.

Because now, any single operation that can be done at SJC (Sumo Jerky Central) is documented, Noah can pass on that documentation in part (to employees or outsourced contractors), or in full (to his heirs or to a buyer or franchisee).

Bottom line: as sure as you sit there, reading this post… this “jerky” thang is a bonafide business. It lives and breathes because of the principles upon which it’s founded.

And ANYone with a will to take the Steps can do it.

$1,000 Challenge Conclusion(S)

Noah Kagan and AppSumo seem to be about many of the same things Shoestring101 is about; taking an idea and making it make you money. And doing it with a low investment. Low risk. Low failure rate. And have fun while doing it.

Steppers, there are so many ways to take a business idea and make it work. You just have to think a certain way and apply yourself.

Below, I’ve assembled a bunch of brain fodder to help you in your quest. Some of these posts live here on Shoestring101; others are located elsewhere in the webnitude. They ALL have the property of being able to motivate, educate and inspire YOU to a worthy effort: your own business, $1,000 on the side or more.

We MADE it! Results of the 30 Day, $1000 Challenge
My teenage son’s and my startup, begun with $62.66 seed capital.
Another Case Study: Five Steps to Five Figures  a Month
This followup report documents how that startup^ reached $500/day profit!
10 Principles of a Shoestring101 Business
How to Start, Grow, and Scale any “Bizness” From Zero
Results of the 24 Hour Business Challenge
Noah Kagan’s post that I analyzed above. Inspiring!
AppSumo How to Make Your First Dollar Course 
The principles Noah used to make $1000 in 24 hours
Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget Part ONE
The Shotgun/Laser Technique and how to use it
Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget Part TWO
Why Demographics is soooo 80’s… and what it’s about NOW
Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget Part THREE
3 most important words in marketing, PLUS! The U.S.P.
Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget Part FOUR
The World Domination from ZERO Strategy; how to scale.

Okay Steppers, sound off! Any suggestions for my next $1,000 challenge, to be done using AppSumo/Shoestring101 principles?

Put ’em in the comments. I’m-a gonna make a shot for the title 😎

Til then,

Keep Stepping!



  1. A. D. says:

    Highly inspiring post, which makes my inevitable crash of confidence that much more devastating. Perhaps you could compose an article about what to do when one is extremely timid, with extremely low confidence, and probably no ability to create a single crumb of value? Because that truly worthless feeling probably ruins whatever good your ideas might achieve.

  2. That is flat out how you go about getting things done Kurt!

    And Noah definitely deserves a lot of credit, for demonstrating
    how it’s not about what city you live in, or how much starting
    capital you have or don’t have etc.

    Nor is it about how cool your initial logo looks or what your
    original business cards say or look like etc.
    Because Noah had no such props to begin with it!

    And yet, look at what he and so many others have been able to accomplish!
    Thanks for both reminding and demonstrating to us all, what’s definitely possible,
    with the right, realistic game plan, which is persistently executed!
    Mark recently posted…Asset Management:How Savvy Entrepreneurs Cash In On Overlooked Opportunities!Part ThreeMy Profile

  3. Clive says:

    A very inspiring post. Definitely the “Get off your Ass” part is key, but for me it’s “paralysis by analysis” and wanting to find the Holy Grail of ideas and not acting until I do. Kurt, do you have any updates to this post and what has happened since?

  4. Ashley says:

    The Get-Off-Your-Ass part is possibly the most important part!! Kudos for going after it and writing up the comparison. I think another tough piece is controlling expenses (knowing what to and what not to spend on!)

    • kurtf

      I agree that controlling expenses is important. In fact, that’s why we talk about shoestrings and bootstraps around here 😉 The most important thing, after getting off one’s ass… is not to be put back on it by oppressive expenses. By structuring things from the beginning to STAY profitable, we have momentum on our side.

      Thanks for posting! What else would you like reading more about?
      Keep Stepping,
      kurtf recently posted…Inside the $2 Startup: Making a Real Business on a Shoestring In Two HoursMy Profile

  5. Regina says:

    Wow! I love this whole idea so much! Why take months of drawn-out efforts to launch your business when apparently you can do it in 24 hours? I am beyond impressed at both you and Noah. And the fact that Noah marketed specifically to companies as opposed to individuals only? Genius. In fact, Noah and Kurt, now that I think about it, stop it. You’re making the rest of us who are breaking our backs trying to get our businesses off the ground feel kinda stupid. Not cool, guys.

  6. Iain

    You could always do the 100 push up membership site.

    I love the comparison of your start up and Noah’s.

    If you like how Noah does things you might also like Dane Maxwell from the foundation.

    I just heard a great interview with him by James Schramko. It was a goodie.

    Note to self:

    1 get off ass
    2 find out the Ws of the market.
    3 learn to create value
    4 measure everything you can
    5 write everything down
    Iain recently posted…Testing the limits: escape your comfort zoneMy Profile

    • kurtf

      Heh… actually, I DID start up the 100 pushups site.

      I’ll write a product review of Noah Kagan’s How to Make Your First Dollar program because I am using some ideas that are uniquely his in order to promote it. I’ve picked up seven Members so far at a price point of just ten bucks… after ‘validating’ the idea in my own way on eBay and Fiverr.

      You’ll see the post when I’ve gotten to a thousand dollars profit, which can’t be long the way I’m going. 😉

      I’ll look into Dane Maxwell’s stuff. I think I saw something about James Schramko on Leadbrite, will read up on him as well. Good to see others have this same message as well: YOU can build a viable business from nothing more than an idea, and self-fund it along the way!

      Thanks as always for the input Iain.

      Keep Stepping,

      kurtf recently posted…Reaching Out: Blog Commenting, ON PURPOSEMy Profile

      • Iain

        I’m actually curious about How to Make Your First Dollar. I heard about it a while ago, but I haven’t got into it.

        I don’t like spending money on something I am not sure about. ROI sorta thing I guess.

        I was listening to a Gary V video the other day and he talked about how one should just go for something and try it and if you fail just try something else.

        It always seems easier said then done.

        Keep on rocking
        Iain recently posted…Testing the limits: escape your comfort zoneMy Profile

  7. Love your idea! I wonder if I could do the same for my business.
    Shaun Hoobler recently posted…recipesecrets.net couponMy Profile

  8. This was absolutely excellent! I can not believe how efficient you (and Noah) are at turning an idea into a profitable business. You can definitely see the passion within this article and it reminds me why I love small businesses/start-ups so much!
    Amanda Rivera recently posted…Your #GettingLegal Dictionary to Starting a Small BusinessMy Profile

    • kurtf

      Yayy! Well, the efficiency thingie comes from proving the concept of a biz before throwing your weight into it.

      I did this in 2002 with an info-product; I was posting and emailing a list about my stock market trading method. After seeing me make a pile of mon-ay on eBay, Amazon, Yahoo and others, while cutting my losses to single digit percent in losing plays… a subscriber asked me if I had written a book.

      So I put up a table of contents and a PayPal button.

      After I collected more than $2,000 in pre-publication reservations I figgered it was time to write me a book! It has since sold millions of dollars worth of copies plus related subscriptions.

      There is nothing wrong with this: big corporations do it all the time. If only one guy sent me money for the book, I would have refunded him with apologies… sorry, not enough interest at this time but thanks for yours. But once I knew I had a winner, I sunk my whole weight into it for about a year. Now it provides a residual stream of income. Yayy!

      What about you, Amanda? I don’t have a course or book or offering like Noah’s…yet. Shoestring101 was founded to help folks start small bizzes by seeing how easy it can be and encouraging those that wanna try. It looks like Noah’s already got a program pretty well sewn up in the How to Make Your First Dollar Course. Are you thinkin of trying it out?

      Keep Stepping,

      kurtf recently posted…28 Days Later… (Not Zombies, Dude. TRAFFIC.)My Profile

  9. Matt Henn

    Yo Frank! Awesome post. You did a great job of tying those shoestrings up. Really enjoy your humor and your ideas. Keep on it bruh!

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge