Fraser Doherty, founder of Super Jam and The Super Jam Tea Parties. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
With his whole life still ahead of him, the 24-year-old founder and CEO of the international fruit jam company “SuperJam” Fraser Doherty shared the stories behind the success of his childhood business during a keynote speech presented during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of Herald Corp. held at the Blue Square in Hannam-dong on Monday night.
Scottish-raised Doherty’s first venture into business was an attempt at starting a chicken farm with his friend at the age of 10. Although his dreams were cut short after his chicks fell victim to a fox, a mere two years later, the young boy stumbled upon a simple homemade product while in his grandmother’s kitchen, a product that would change the rest of his life.
After tasting his grandmother’s jam one afternoon, Doherty asked his grandmother if she would teach him her recipe for jam. This gave birth to the young entrepreneur’s new dream of sharing his grandmother’s recipe to the masses.
“I started making around 1,000 jars of jam a week in my parents’ small kitchen and selling them door to door,” he said. “Later I decided to leave school to try and make my jam-making hobby into a career.”
The teen went to a string of local markets and realized that the jams stacked on the shelves of those stores were unhealthy and made of about 70 to 80 percent sugar. Doherty then decided that he would differentiate himself from other products by making preservative-free jams made from 100 percent fruit. At the age of 14, Doherty started SuperJam.
“After a while I got my big break I guess with the chance of being able to pitch my ideas to Waitrose,” he explained. “Waitrose is basically the X Factor or Superstar K of selling groceries to supermarkets.”
The young teen wearing his dad’s suit that was two sizes too large, pitched his business proposal to some of the most influential businessmen in the U.K. Although his proposal was ultimately rejected, Waitrose figures said that they did in fact love his idea and asked that he continue to develop his business, encouraging him that in a couple of years, he’d be ready to make it to the big leagues.
Doherty spent the following years travelling around trying to find buyers who were willing to take his product into mass production. All his hard work finally paid off and after steadily developing his business, Waitrose finally said yes to SuperJam.
The jam that was once handmade in a small home kitchen and sold door to door has grown to supply more than 2,000 supermarkets across the globe including Australia, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Korea.
“Perhaps what my story shows is that a bit of love, imagination and hard work can grow into something amazing,” he concluded.