Two College Friends with a Shared Entrepreneurial Dream
Friends from college, we all have them, we all love them, we do not all start businesses with them. When Jesse Konig and Ben Johnson, founders of Swizzler, a food brand committed to providing real american eats, met as undergrads in North Carolina, they had no idea what was in store for them. They could not have predicted their rise to fame on campus, eventually being dubbed the hot dog guys nor could they have predicted their joint decision to move to DC and launch the Swizzler food truck.
Just a few years post grad the friends and business partners who have gained a cult following in the DC area for their two food trucks are continuing to thrive. With their first brick and mortar store planned to open in Navy Yard, near the Washington Nationals stadium, these friends form college are just getting started.
Imagine your classic lemonade stand in a typical New Jersey neighborhood. That’s where Jesse Konig, co-founder of Swizzler, got his entrepreneurial start. When it came time to leave the suburbs, he began his college search by researching the top 25 business schools in the country and sending out applications. Coincidentally, he ended up at the only non-4 year business school he applied to, which required him to focus two years on liberal studies. This enabled him to take classes in history, English, and writing. What he began to notice in his classes was that he wasn’t like the majority of the business students, who were on the path to wall street. By junior year his exposure to liberal studies began to shift his definition of success and he wanted to do post-college.
It was around the same time in an Entrepreneurship class project, Jesse and his friend Ben, began selling hot dogs on campus. “It was a sort of do now, ask for permission later scenario that grew,” Jesse said of the early days. The guys were hoping to raise some extra funds to travel but ended up setting the class record. Eventually, their hot dog business grew so large, that people started calling them the Hot Dog Guys, a nickname they wore with pride.
While Jesse had abandoned his path to Wall Street, he didn’t lose his passion for business. He knew that their food venture was something unique, that he wanted to continue to build and grow with Ben.
Jesse and his partner Ben, a local to the DC area, did a lot of research on how and where to launch their food business post-grad. The two friends turned business partners graduated in May, moved to the District in August and bought a food truck in October.
Since then, Swizzler has grown to two food trucks and are in the process of opening their first retail location this spring. They serve grass-fed beef, plant-based burgers, and, of course, hot dogs. They are on a mission to change the way people eat by serving affordable, real food that makes people feel good.