I guess it’s not every 14 years old that wakes up, stumble across their bed, go to the kitchen and makes jam, let’s just say fraser is special, Fraser Doherty now runs his company super jam, Doherty was taught to make jam by his Grandmother, aged fourteen.
He later began making jam at home, selling it to neighbors, at farmers’ markets and to local shops.
Doherty became the youngest ever supplier to a major UK supermarket in 2007, when Waitrose launched SuperJam in its chain of 190+ stores.
A company estimated to be worth over £1 million, I guess he’s not done too bad for himself.
First of all, how are you doing today?
Today I am great, there are a lot of exciting things going on in Jam Land; we're planning some big SuperJam tea parties and have been visiting lots of supermarkets this month, handing out samples of SuperJam and telling people about our range of 100% pure fruit jams.
I mean it’s not every 14 years old that wake up and want to start up their business? What inspired you to do that at such a young age?
I was inspired to start making jam by my Grandmother. She was cooking jam in the kitchen one afternoon and I got really excited about it and started cooking jam as a hobby in my spare time. The neighbours soon started buying my homemade jam, then I began selling it at farmers' markets and to small shops.
If you were starting a new business in a new industry what would it be?
I find food a lot of fun and I enjoy cooking and coming up with ideas for new products. There's a lot I still want to do in the world of jam and i'm having a lot of fun doing what i'm doing so definitely won't be hanging up my apron anytime soon.
Were you exposed to entrepreneurship as a child? (Did you have any family members who influenced you in that way).
As a kid, my parents and family weren't entrepreneurs but they always let me try out new things and do whatever I wanted to do in my spare time. I was always interested in making a bit of extra pocket money and tried out all kinds of ideas. My favourite story of all is when I hatched out some chickens from eggs that I got from a local farm; I kept the eggs warm on top of the telly and amazingly they hatched - I sold the eggs to the neighbours and that was my first ever little business.
On those impossible days starting up, what motivates you to keep going?
I was motivated by a feeling that I was doing something worthwhile with my life and by the fact that I was enjoying what I was doing every step of the way.
How do you manage the growth of your company?
The business is growing very fast and we're launching in new stores all of the time. The most important thing is that we have stayed focused on the idea of making 100% pure fruit jams, have focused on keeping the retailers happy and have improved every aspect of the business as we've moved forward.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I admire entrepreneurs like the late anita roddick, ben & jerry and other entrepreneurs that have run businesses with not only an aim of making money, but with an aim of making the world a better place. Inspired by companies like theirs, I set up a charitable project over a year ago, running tea parties for lonely elderly people. We have now run over 120 tea parties, with live music, dancing and scones and tea; the larger events have attracted over 500 guests. It feels great to be able to put something positive like that into the world.
What sacrifices did you have to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Getting the business off the ground took a huge amount of hard work; in the early days I was spending twelve of more hours a day in the kitchen. I have to spend a lot of time on the road, visiting customers and sharing my story at events around the world. It has all been worth all of the work and i've enjoyed it all along.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I enjoy cooking, traveling and music. I don't work at the weekends and have plenty of time to spend with my friends.
What qualities have you developed as a result of running your business?
I am invited to speak at events every week; at schools, colleges, universities and conferences, sharing the story of how I built my Gran's jam recipe into a successful company supplying major supermarkets. I've given well over 100 talks now, to audiences of up to 1,000 people. Having that experience has helped me to become good at talking to audiences and i'm getting invited to bigger and bigger events; sometimes in the US and around Europe.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When I could go into the supermarket and buy a jar of my own jam; which I did, and put the receipt up on my wall.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
We hand out samples in the supermarkets, telling people about the products and letting them taste how much better it is than normal jam. This is the most effective way of promoting the business. We also gave away a free jar of jam to every reader of The Sun and have printed 50 million adverts in newspapers and magazines so far this year. Of course, the media attention surrounding my story has helped; i've been on GMTV, This Morning, BBC Breakfast and Channel 4 made a documentary about me.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
My family have enjoyed the adventure of the past few years and without their amazing support it wouldn't have been possible.
How did you finance your business?
I got a small loan from the Princes Trust and have invested all of the profits of the business back into it, which has helped it to grow at amazing speed.
SuperJam has sold almost 1m jars of jam, sells 500,000 jars a year and has a retail value of over £750,000; this is around 1% of all of the jam eaten in the UK.
What are your advices to upcoming entrepreneurs?
Be willing to give things a shot and don't be afraid that they might not work out. I'd also say its a great idea to find a mentor - someone who has already 'been there and done it'. The best advice I have had was from my mentor, who taught me about how supermarkets worked and gave me a lot of confidence in my product.
Thanks Fraser for your advices, That reminds me, I need some jam for my toast today.
More info can be found on: www.superjam.co.uk
Fraser Doherty Blog: www.superjam.co.uk/blog.html