Source: The Malta Independent
Fraser Doherty has an awesome story to tell. At the age of 14, after his grandmother showed him her special jam recipe in her kitchen, Fraser started selling jam in farmers markets and just a few years later he has grown his jam company ‘Superjam’ into a million dollar business. SuperJam uses traditional recipes to create a range of 100% pure fruit jams. The company has won a number of awards, supplies major UK supermarkets and is now included in a museum exhibit as an example of an ‘Iconic Scottish Food Brand’. Fraser became the youngest ever supplier to a major UK supermarket in 2007, when Waitrose launched SuperJam in its chain of 190+ stores.
What led to you to becoming an entrepreneur and setting up SuperJam?
As a kid, I was always interested in starting my own small business – I was one of those kids who was making things and selling them in the neighbourhood. It was an afternoon of making jam with my grandmother that inspired me to start SuperJam. I got so excited after she shared her recipes with me that I ran around to the supermarket and bought some fruit and made a few jars of my own. I was soon making deliveries all over the local area.
You started this business venture in your parent’s kitchen, but you had to upscale since your business grew drastically. Tell us about how you expanded the manufacturing process, to what you now today? How did you fund your business, particularly its expansion?
I was able to convince a larger manufacturer to partner with me to produce my recipes on a big scale. I am a big believer in collaborating with other companies rather than trying to do everything on your own. Because of this approach, I was able to get started without needing to raise funding to set up a factory.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs looking for success?
My advice would be to start small, you don’t need to jump in at the deep end. I’d also say it’s a great idea to try and find a mentor, someone who has been there and done it before and who can give you some advice. Most of all, just try – rather than researching and planning yourself into paralysis, just take the first steps and get your product to market. The feedback that you get from customers is more valuable than any business planning – so long as you listen to what they say!
Why do you think SuperJam has become so successful?
I think the key to the success of any business is creating a product that people love. I was able to do that by listening to the feedback that I got from supermarket buyers when I initially presented them with my idea. I think also having a story behind my brand helped me to stand out compared to the established players. Whatever business you are starting, you will also have a story to tell – the key is figuring out what that story is and how to tell it.
Do you use social media to promote your businesses? Any advice on how businesses can use social media to promote themselves?
Social media is a great way of building a connection with your customers. You can also use LinkedIn to find potential buyers if you are selling to businesses – don’t be afraid of contacting people out of the blue and introducing them to your concept – you have nothing to lose!
What’s your proudest moments?
I think the most exciting day was when my products first launched in Waitrose and I was able to go into the local supermarket and see them sitting on the shelves. Since then, we have seen SuperJam entered into the National Museum of Scotland, have been invited to No. 10 Downing Street and my grandmother and I were even given a medal by Prince Charles. It has all been quite an adventure!
What’s next for SuperJam?
The brand has become quite a success in South Korea, we sell through department stores and on TV home shopping channels there. We’ve recently launched a range of peanut butters and are working on creating new products specifically to tarket the Korean market. I look forward to sharing the story of our exporting successes with Malta’s businesses and very much hope that some of the lessons that I have learned will be helpful to them in launching their products and services in overseas markets.
TradeMalta is holding an event on 15 November to launch its EU-funded information portal for SMEs as well as to update Malta-based companies on the services offered by TradeMalta. The event will happen at Giardini Lambrosa in Rabat and starts with interventions by the Chairman and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, Carmelo Abela, at 9am. For this occasion TradeMalta invited Fraser Doherty, to share his experience with those present. TradeMalta is a public private partnership focused on assisting Malta-based companies to reach international markets.