Jim and Suze from Jimmy’s Iced Coffee share how they brought cold coffee to the UK and how they achieved success….
Tell us about your business and what you do?
Jim: We make awesome ready-to-drink Iced Coffee. Simple ingredients, not sickly sweet and it’s perfect for on-the-go.
We started out with our Original Caffe Latte then grew to include our Fat-Free Skinny Latte, Belgian Chocolate Mocha and most recently launched our Dairy free Oat Latte – the plant-based alternative that’s vegan friendly!
With a crew based in Christchurch, Dorset we’re proud to be selling one carton every five seconds UK wide, with the fridges of the world to follow. You can pick one up in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Waitrose, BP, Morrisons as well as independent cafes, sport and activity venues.
What influenced your decision to start your own business?
Jim: Back in 2008 I was travelling around Australia with my wife Sophie. We pulled up at a service station and feeling tired and a bit hungover I picked up some Farmers Union Iced Coffee. It was ace. It fuelled the rest of our road-trip. But, landing back in the UK I found there was nothing quite like it and not wanting to live without it, I decided to make my own. My sister Suze owned a café at the time and we used the kitchen there to create our Iced Coffee and to run taste tests on our family and friends.
What were your initial challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Jim: The first was financial, getting the funding to help us get started was huge. Our parents took a massive leap of faith in lending us their savings and Suze sold her café and invested the money from that.
The second was figuring out how it all worked. Our first listing was in Selfridges. We were super excited and drove all the stock to London ourselves in an (un-refrigerated) van. At the time, our Iced Coffee wasn’t ambient stable and when we arrived, we were told that if our cartons were over 8°C in temperature they couldn’t go on the shelf. This was our first listing and we couldn’t afford to lose it, so we got a thermometer in a carton before you could blink, found we were just below the limit and it was then a manic session of all hands-on-deck to get our stock out of the van and into the warehouse. We never made that mistake again!
Suze: As with any start-up the first few years were the hardest with neither of us seeing friends for a good four years. We just ate (usually a packed lunch from Mum), hand delivered stock, travelled to exhibitions, talks, meetings and slept when and where we could. There was zero time for socialising, but we knew it was worth it. To be a success you have to commit, be bold and be cheeky.
What advice do you have for anyone wishing to start their own venture?
Jim: Two things, to quote Kevin Lane (The Shoestring Millionaire), “Do what makes your heart sing” and secondly, be absolutely, undoubtedly, 100% committed to your business ideas. Don’t rush things, research them, analyse them and discuss them with people who know more than you do – then make your move.
Suze: Be persistent. Don’t wait for a response from a buyer on email – you’ll likely to be waiting a while. Find other original ways to get their attention – even if it means waiting in Tesco’s car park, to find out which parking spot belongs to the buyer you want to speak to and leaving a carton and a business card on their windscreen…Yes we did that. And yes, we did get a listing with Tesco, so you never know!
What are your future goals?
Jim: To have Jimmy’s Iced Coffee in fridges across the world. We’re stoked to have international listings on the cards at the moment (you can grab a Jimmy’s iced cold from Spinneys in Dubai) and we’re working on more.
We’re super proud to have created a product that has all the credentials our customers care about, ethically sourced Arabica coffee (Rainforest Alliance Certified), we’ve got almost 50% less sugar than comparable brands and now, at a time when we’re all taking our health a lot more seriously, our Iced Coffee offers a simple energy boosting alternative to the sickly-sweet energy drinks on the shelves, which is ace.
What are you most proud of?
Suze: Without a doubt, I do have a very definite proudest moment, it was when Jim and I realised we could pay our Mum and Dad back earlier than expected (their parents lent them their life savings to set up Jimmy’s Iced Coffee). We surprised them by taking them to their favourite restaurant for dinner, where we had created a fake copy of the restaurant’s menu and one of the dishes on the ‘menu’ was the news that we had transferred £140,000 into their account. Mum’s face was priceless and there were tears all round. It has very much been a family effort with Mum and Dad behind us all the way like a giant pair of wings.
Jim: For me, the real pinch me moment was when we made our rap video. We had a whole crew of people running around filming, lighting, directing all so we could create something epic and entertaining to tell people about our Iced Coffee. It was a big moment, we were still only a team of 6, but the video went on to gain 2M views and an airing on an E4 ad break, which was huge for us in terms of awareness.
Delve a little deeper by visiting www.jimmysicedcoffee.com
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Jim and Suze, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee
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