From his days as a minor league baseball player to a project manager in the oil and gas business, Arkansas-born Clay Roup has managed to explore many different professional fields throughout his career, including his most recent venture here in Shanghai as “beef jerky boy.” Roup sells his new product at the store, Tinys Best.
Beef jerky, huh?! What gave you the idea to bring beef jerky to Shanghai?
The only way to get any here is to beg your friends to bring some back from the USA. Last year, I brought back a dehydrator from the States. About six months later, I had a few good beef jerky recipes, and some chicken ones as well.
You don’t have your own store from what I’ve gathered, so can you tell me about the partnership with the stores?
We are selling at The Pantry, Avocado Lady, Chapin House (JinQiao), The Rooster Bar, and Bubbas BBQ at the moment. We are looking at working with local factories so we can increase production to keep up with the demands of what convenient stores and major retail outlets would require.
Are there any other plans in the works? Can we expect any unusual jerky coming to Shanghai soon – moose jerky perhaps?!
Unfortunately, moose is a bit hard to come by in Shanghai. But we have a South African Biltong coming out in November. We are also going to start having a new flavor to be rolled out every month. Those that get the most favorable response will stay on as a full time option.
Is this your first business venture in the food industry here in Shanghai? How has it been going so far? What’s the most entertaining/crazy/random thing that has happened so far while selling beef jerky in Shanghai?
I worked in F&B before in Shanghai, but as a consultant. Tiny did some F&B in Sanya. I have ten plus years in hotels and restaurants, but this is my – our – first time doing food retail. Things are good. It is always a constant balance of income and growth. We put back almost all the profits right back into the company, so we are constantly working with smaller amounts of money that we are accustomed to. But that’s what having a startup is all about, bootstrapping and working like mad. We are happy with the progress so far, setbacks and all. That how you learn of course. And when recipes don’t turn out like they should, I never have to worry about going hungry!
Oh, and one question I get often is…
Q: Do you get tired of eating beef jerky.
Any other information that the Shanghaiist community should know about your beef jerky venture?
We would love to hear what people would like to see as a flavor or concept. And we welcome all feedback. Customer satisfaction is paramount. If someone is not happy with the product, we will make sure to remedy that.
Stay tuned for a review of Tinys Best’s beef jerky soon from Shanghaiist.
By Charlotte Evans
Charlotte Evans is a food contributor for Shanghaiist’s Food Desk. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].