How a Humanities Student Turned a Guitar Into Utah’s Beloved Hot Dog Empire

How a Humanities Student Turned a Guitar Into Utah’s Beloved Hot Dog Empire

For the month of February, we’re talking all about college student entrepreneurs. Our 4-part series looks at four very different businesses started by studentpreneurs and the key takeaways that can help you in your business. Questions? Suggestions? Want to us to feature your business? Drop us a line!

Who: Jayson Edwards

What: J Dawgs, a hot dog restaurant from Provo, UT

Where: Brigham Young University

The Problem: The city didn’t have a great hot dog place.

The Solution: Sold his guitar and invested the money in a tiny restaurant space near campus.

Jayson Edwards was a student at Brigham Young University. One day he was walking along a street and realized that he could start his own hot dog stand. He had spent two years living in Canada where he had eaten really good hot dogs and realized he missed those dogs–and other people would probably enjoy them, too.

In 2004, he pawned his electric guitar and invested the money in a tiny (12’x12’!) shack not far from campus. The business has been thriving ever since.

Edwards keeps a very simple menu: two kinds of dogs (polish or beef), soda, chips,and condiments. But, he does have one trick up his sleeve: he uses a “secret sauce” that was taught to him by his grandmother.

Initially popular among other college students, his restaurant J Dawgs is now in six locations around Utah. He’s also diversified his revenue streams. Each location sells T-shirts and J Dawgs offers catering services. And to think it all started from a guitar.

Top 3 Lessons and Takeaways:

  1. Specialize. Sometimes the more niche you are, the more profit you can earn. J Dawgs’ menu is extremely simple and extremely good. They’ve focused on what they’re good at (hot dogs, buns, sauce, atmosphere) and replicated it. No need for frills or menu changes.
  1. Secret Sauce! Every company needs a secret sauce. Offer something that no one else does, that no one else possibly can. That way even if another delicious hot dog place popped up, J Dawgs still has the sauce everyone loves. A little touch of exclusivity goes a long way for your brand, and your customers.
  1. Use Your Resources. Edwards had taken a class in entrepreneurship before starting his business, but after starting he continued utilize his school’s center for entrepreneurship. Take a class. Get a mentor. And just start! Edwards didn’t have any capital, so he created it by pawning his guitar. Universities are full of resources.
How Search Can Help You

How Search Can Help You

Consumers use search engines to ask questions, find solutions and gain knowledge on a certain subject. As a marketer, you want consumers to identify with your company, products, and services. First, you need to identify what types of thoughts and search terms define certain areas. Marketers must develop a hybrid solution that satisfies both what the consumer wants and what the company is selling.

For example, people might associate any fuel-efficient vehicles with the term “hybrid”—although this term doesn’t refer to all types of fuel-efficient vehicles. A company that sells an “all-electric car,” wants to be a thought leader for fuel-efficient vehicles. But, because this company does not sell hybrid cars, they must explain that to customers somehow. For instance, they could say something like “All-Electric Car offer better MPG than any Hybrid”. By doing this, the electric car company is maintaining its position as a leader for people looking for fuel-efficient vehicles. They are not only using a solution that aligns customer needs but product sales. This helps them become top of mind for customers.

If you want to engrave yourself on the minds of your consumers you need to be there whenever they look. Choose terms that describe a customer need and go with a paid and organic search engines. The higher you rank on the search results page, the better your chances are of becoming a thought leader.

Chatting Entrepreneurship at Capital Factory Tour

Chatting Entrepreneurship at Capital Factory Tour

It was great speaking with aspiring entrepreneurs, from the UT Coding Bootcamp at Capital Factory, telling my story and paying forward advice that’s helped me dodge many obstacles leading to my success.

Here’s the video of my chat and Q&A with them:

Wow Your Audience and Improve SEO

Wow Your Audience and Improve SEO

In today’s society, to truly establish yourself as a leader and wow your audience you need to create longer and more in depth content. This will truly help show your audience what you know that benefits them. There are 6 reasons why you want to write longer content that is deeper, offers more facts, and engages your audience in a better way. You can truly delve into a topic with more words than reading longer content or watching longer videos. The first step, start with longer features and higher quality. Secondly, dig deeper include more visuals. There are different types of content that lend themselves to digging deeper.

Feature Articles — A featured article requires more research and has a different format that’s shorter than blog posts have. Often a long article consists of quoting other authorities, books, individuals to further the points being made in the article. To demonstrate your authority, knowledge, and expertise you need to write long articles that will help be useful to you and your audience.

Case Studies — Typically a case study covers so much and the content is usually longer. You must define the problem, offer the solution and share the results via the case studies that you publish. This will certainly keep people reading. People like reading how a solution worked for other people, so case studies are a great choice for longer content.

White Papers —The intent of a white paper is to give authoritative information to guide the readers to answers about an issue that matters to them. A white paper is traditionally used in government and education circles. It will describe benefits, present a set of questions, tips or points about the topic, as well as recommendations and solutions.

Instructional Videos —Videos are known to grab the attention of the audience, and what better way to demonstrate your knowledge and build authority than a long, in depth video tutorial on an important topic for your niche.

If you choose to include longer more in depth content to wow your audience, it needs to be more appealing visually. Make sure to add in images, plenty of bullet points, subheadings, and headers. Also, it’s okay to send people to new pages for the rest of the content it’s essential good for SEO in today’s search engine climate.

Marketing the Millennial

Marketing the Millennial

Did you know Millennial’s spend 6 hours a day checking email? Yes, it’s true! According to research done on Those results are spread across a wide range of demographics, but the numbers don’t lie. The results show that 70% of Millennials check their emails while watching tv, 50% check their emails while in bed, 40% check their emails while on vacation and 42% check their emails while in the bathroom. Their involvement in email far outstrips the usage of any other group.

I mean seriously, Millennials were pretty much born with the digital spoon in their mouth. Which would explain why millennial’s tend to create their own rules of engagement via email. Did you know a millennials believe it’s appropriate to use emojis when communicating with a direct manager? Seriously, emoji’s have meaning to the millennial. Do the older generations even find that to be an appropriate means of communication? I think not! However, as a marketer, it’s important to know that the millennial does consider it appropriate.

Let’s put some numbers into perspective so 70% of the millennials check their emails “While Watching TV” this means they are watching tv on their smartphones, tablets, and watches. Email alerts typically pop up all the time and they read them. Email is not only relevant for millennials, it also remains to have the highest ROI for direct marketers. Marketers need to keep the following in mind to ensure they grab millennial mindshare and don’t just add to the noise in Millennials’ inboxes:

  • Make sure your emails are mobile friendly
  • Contextual email is everything
  • Pictures are worth a thousand words—optimize emails for images and allow for quick feedback through emojis
  • Less is more—Quality over quantity will win the day.

If you use the tips listed above, focus on the target audience and your email marketing strategy, you can really get skin in the game. After all, millennials truly are your biggest customer.

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