“If you’re not putting in the work,
there’s just no way you’re going to achieve the results you want.“
Austin and Julia Meek aren’t your typical “business-type” business owners. Neither of them grew up with entrepreneurial aspirations, but everything they did prepared them for a journey of a lifetime.
Both Austin and Julia are from the Dallas area, but their paths never actually crossed in the metroplex. In high school Julia worked part time at Pokey O’s, an up-and-coming Dallas ice cream parlor that had the brilliant idea to combine soft, home-made cookies with ice cream.
After high school, Julia went on to study at Baylor, but she would return to Pokey O’s to work during breaks from classes. Austin moved to Bryan to study at Texas A&M.
The two ultimately met in Waco through Austin’s sister Rachel, who was in the same sorority as Julia. A friendship ensued, but they each went in separate directions to pursue individual career goals after graduation in 2010. Julia moved to Los Angeles to work as a comic, and Austin moved to Austin with friends and worked on a film called ‘Believe Me.’
In 2013 the two reconnected in Austin through mutual friends working on the ‘Believe Me’ film. Julia returned to Los Angeles, but one phone call led to another, which led to another… After a couple of years, Julia was ready to return back to Texas.
Austin had been accepted to Baylor law school and Julia felt that Waco would be the perfect place to reconnect with her ice cream roots and open a Pokey O’s. In January 2015, Austin and Julia got married and moved to Waco.
The newlyweds had a thumbs-up from the Pokey O’s owners in Dallas and were given all of the recipes and branding needed to proceed with a plan of opening a Pokey O’s in Waco. The Waco location would be different because Julia had plans for a food truck rather than a storefront.
They soon purchased a cargo van for $15,000 via Craigslist and took it to an RV shop to put in a sink creating the original Pokey O’s truck.
Austin believes that the path for Pokey O’s was paved because Julia put in so many hours building a trust while working at the Pokey O’s in Dallas. Julia’s hard work for all of those years provided the foundation to building the success of the Waco Pokey O’s. Austin says, “If you’re not putting in the work there’s just no way you’re going to achieve the results you want.”
Pokey O’s Waco officially opened April 11, 2015.
Austin and Julia did things a little differently with Pokey O’s than most food trucks. They never established a home base for the Pokey O’s truck. Through social media, customers were incentivized to find them each day. A sort of scavenger hunt, if you will.
The thinking is that it’s less about location and more about Instagramable moments. It was free marketing when customers took decadent, mouth-watering pics of the ice cream desserts. They found that customers were looking for novelty rather than location and convenience.
Austin says, “Creating a product that’s really unique is something every small business should think about.”
He continues to explain that Pokey O’s could have come to Waco as an ice cream specialty store and would have ultimately been competing with Baskin Robbins or existing frozen yogurt stores. Or it could have come to Waco with a cookie specialty competing with local bakeries. Instead, Pokey O’s presented Waco with a brand new product in an ice cream sandwich. Customers recognize Pokey O’s as different and they love the whimsy of the brand and they are willing to pay for that.
Austin and Julia jumped into the world of entrepreneurship feet first, without hesitation. There have been a few hiccups along the way with establishing a home-base commissary kitchen and testing the waters with a brick and mortar storefront. The goal is still to eventually open a store front, but location and vibe are key.
Austin stresses that there’s absolutely no substitute for hard work and that you get what you put into it. He says, “You have to create opportunities for yourself and capitalize on them.”
Austin and Julia are definitely on a sweet path to success with Pokey O’s. Sic ‘Em!
For more information on Austin and Julia’s entrepreneurial journey with Pokey O’s, please watch their Confessions of an Entrepreneur YouTube video.
For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.