When Fraser Doherty first saw his SuperJam sitting on the shelves of the local Waitrose shop he was amazed. The product getting there was preceded by many recipe attempts — and obvious failures — as well as a myriad of packaging designs before a shop would become willing to buy Mr Doherty’s products. He was 14 at the time, he tells Business Malta. Mr Doherty is one of the speakers of the Breakthrough – From Good to Great conference by Business Leaders Malta on 14 June at Teatru Manoel, Valletta.
Mr Doherty started selling jams around his neighbourhood when he was only 14 years old, after falling in love with the process of jam making when cooking together with his grandmother. Selling his product was a demonstration of how much he always wanted to start his own business and become a businessman in the future.
“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to start my own business. I was always interested in the idea of creating a product and making a career out of doing something I loved,”MR DOHERTY SAYS.
After many years of effort, his dream became a reality. Newspaper articles and TV interviews followed suit as next milestones, confirming the success of his work. “I took advantage of media coverage by embarking on a ‘rock and roll’ tour of all the Waitrose supermarkets; handing out samples and telling people all about my gran’ and our 100% fruit jam recipe,” says Mr Doherty about how he was trying to boost the sales of his products already available in Waitrose.
His debut before a bigger audience happened when Waitrose decided to hold a “meet the buyer day”. Mr Doherty believed it was the perfect chance for him to introduce his SuperJam to the big market. “I convinced my dad to drive me there. My dad waited in the car outside, I borrowed his suit and got ten minutes to ‘pitch’ my idea to the senior jam buyer of Waitrose,” Mr Doherty recounts his story.
“He said it was a great idea and explained what I would need to do if I was serious about supplying their stores — I would need to set up production in a factory, offer him a good price and get labels designed that would catch people’s attention. It was at this point that I became sure that running my own jam business would become my career,” he adds.
Open-mindedness fuels foreign expansion
The ability to always stay open-minded allowed Mr Doherty to expand his project and his ideas abroad. As a matter of fact, South Korea has become the largest market for SuperJam. “We supply thousands of stores there and have also launched snacks, peanut butter and honey,” Mr Doherty says, adding that currently, his products are available in five countries.
Moreover, one of the most interesting projects launched by Mr Doherty is the “SuperJam Tea Parties” series, which also represents a fundamental pride for the company and its founder. This activity is based on the organisation of hundreds of parties over the world. The main target is the elderly. As Mr Doherty says he always remembers when his grandmother used to take him to tea parties and this project represents a kind of tribute to his grandmother; the main inspiration for his product.
In addition, the longing for business brought him to open his business interest to startups. As the cofounder of Beer52, indeed, he supported the development and the growth of new beer types, different to the usual ones and more interesting, causing the capture and the attention of more and more markets. “Beer52 has been at the forefront of this in the United Kingdom and we have now become the largest craft beer club anywhere in the world, with more than 60,000 monthly subscribers,” adds Mr Doherty.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Business Leaders Malta is organising the Breakthrough – From Good to Great conference by Business Leaders Malta on 14 June at Teatru Manoel, Valletta. If you want to hear what Mr Doherty has to share, come and see him in action at the event.
Business Leaders Malta started life as an alliance between three diverse companies in 2009 — Mdina International, Jugs Malta and Konnekt, fusing capabilities, experience, professionalism and creativity to pursue their original goal of creating a forum where thought leaders and professionals could come together to share knowledge and ideas.