1.1 Activity 1
SuperJam – an entrepreneurial story
Read Section 1.2 ‘Scoping and defining entrepreneurship’ in(Blundel and Lockett, 2011, pp. 4–9) and make your own notes on the working definitions of ‘entrepreneurs’, ‘entrepreneurial activity’, ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘enterprise’ that are offered in the text. Also spend a few minutes considering the different kinds of activity that might be described as entrepreneurial, based on the ways it is organised, the context in which it takes place and the goals that are pursued in its name.
Now watch ‘A successful jam-making business’ (duration: 05:53 minutes). It features 20-year-old Fraser Doherty from Edinburgh, who started making jam at home with his grandmother. As demand grew, he looked into the jam market and spotted a gap for a healthier brand which he successfully marketed to supermarket chains. His success with SuperJam has brought global media attention. Now he uses some of the profits to fund afternoon social events for local pensioners. Make your own notes in response to the following questions:
- What do you see as distinctively entrepreneurial about Fraser as an individual?
- What other factors do you see as significant in the success of his business?
- Read Case 1.1 Helen Child: an entrepreneur looks back in Exploring Entrepreneurship: Practices and Perspectives (pp. 2–3). How does Fraser’s entrepreneurial experience compare to that of Helen? List the main similarities and differences (you may also wish to include a comparison with your own direct or indirect experiences).
You might also like to carry out a quick search to get updates on Fraser’s venture at the SuperJam website.
Transcript: A successful jam-making business
A Successful jam-making business
Music – Anything Goes, dur: 00:45
Angela Darcy, narrator:
Jam. One of Scotland’s traditional foods, we love it. On toast, on scones, this sweet tasting fruity preserve is as Scottish as neeps and tatties.
Now meet Fraser Doherty. This young man from Edinburgh knows a thing or two about jam. He is the brains behind SuperJam, a super fruit, super-friendly jam, sweetened naturally with grape juice.
SuperJam has an annual turnover of half a million jars. Fraser is only 20 years old, and he still lives at home with his mum and dad.
When I was 14 or 15 to have suggested that I was going to be supplying Tesco and Asda, two of the biggest supermarkets in the world, I would have been crazy to have imagined as a 14-year-old that that would ever be possible. And, you know, when I kind of look back at cooking jam in the kitchen when I was that age, you know, it’s, it has been an amazing journey and it’s come a very long way from, from that time.
Music – Boogie Woogie Party, dur: 00:31
It all started about six years ago when my grandmother taught me how to make jam one afternoon. I was 14 years old, and I got really excited about her jam recipes, and I soon started making jam in the kitchen at home and selling it to the neighbours, at Church fares and farmer’s markets. And it sort of grew and grew in the course of a few months. And after a while I got to the point I was making about 1000 jars of jam a week in my parents’ tiny little kitchen. And, you know, they could never get in to cook the dinner. And I soon had to come up with a big idea to move production into a factory.
When I was trying to convince huge companies, factories and supermarkets and other places to work with me definitely there were a number of people who were sceptical of this 16-year-old coming along with absolutely no money, no experience and really little more than just a set of recipes and this vague ambition to transform the world of jam.
Music – Anything Goes, dur: 00:14
Angela Darcy, narrator:
Fraser had to find a way to make his jams stand out from the crowd.
I did a lot of research and I found out that sales of jam have been in decline for the past couple of decades. And that’s mostly because jam’s got a very old-fashioned and er unhealthy sort of imagine. Um it’s usually 70 or even 80% sugar. It contains all lots of additives. And when people think of jam they think of old women, Church fares and the Women’s Institute. And I just set myself the ambition of trying to change all of that by coming up with a healthier, more modern brand of jam.
Less than three years after he first made jam with his gran Fraser’s SuperJam hit the High Street.
Tonight the jammy teenager who’s landed a supermarket deal thanks to his granny’s recipe.
When SuperJam was launched there was an incredible amount of media attention. You know, there was BBC Breakfast and GMTV and This Morning and TV shows from China and, and all over the world were interested in the story. And definitely it, you know, it’s helped the business to grow at a, a very fast pace.
Success at such a young age has catapulted Fraser into the limelight. He’s won a string of awards and found himself the subject of much media attention. But what is it that drives him?
I’m not motivated by money, financial success or any other material things that you could buy with that.
For me the exciting thing about starting a company is that I can start something er from nothing and grow it into, you know, hopefully a large business. I can challenge the status quo in an industry that’s been around for hundreds of years and hopefully use the profits from doing all of that to do good.
When I was a kid my grandmother used to make jam and scones. And she would visit all the elderly people in her area who were living alone and they often didn’t get very many visitors and may be didn’t have any family. And she would take my little brother and I with her at the weekends. And we would have to tell them stories. And my little brother would play his guitar. And it was kind of something that we were always brought up with and that my gran felt very strongly about.
And so about a year ago I started a project running tea parties for elderly people.
The whole idea is just er to have a great afternoon. It is completely free for the guests. We have live music, dancing, scones and clotted cream and jam. And you know hopefully it would put some smiles on, on a few people’s faces.
This is wonderful because I can’t get out very much. But this has been great today. And to see all these elderly people enjoying themselves is something wonderful.
The jam is delicious. Probably shouldn’t have had the cream but never mind, I danced if off.
It’s great to, to see a room full of people having a, a good time and, you know, a lot of the people here have come from care homes. And some of them are living alone and it’s a good opportunity to get out and have fun and make some new friends. So it feels great to be able to give that kind of opportunity to people.
Amazingly I’m talking about jam, making jam and er doing everything to do with jam everyday for the past six years. Er I do still love jam and, and have jam on my toast or porridge most mornings.
- Based on the evidence of the video and blog, you may have noticed that Fraser Doherty has a number of personal attributes that appear to have been useful in developing his jam-making venture. For example, he is able to communicate his ideas in a very natural, clear and persuasive way, both in written form and on camera. Above all, he seems to have a great enthusiasm for his business, and for what it can do for other people. What do you see if you look beneath the informal and relaxed exterior? Did you detect signs that Fraser possesses personal characteristics such as single-mindedness, stamina and the capacity to cope with a degree of uncertainty? You may find it useful to compare your findings with those of other students, and with the textbook example identified in question 3.
- Looking beyond Fraser as an individual, it is possible to identify a number of what might be termed ‘social and ‘economic’ factors that have had a positive influence on the SuperJam venture. For example, Fraser’s family has provided a supportive environment in which he has been able to experiment with the business. Did you find any influential role models in Fraser’s own account of his entrepreneurial career? Turning to economic factors, we can see the SuperJam concept as part of a broader retail trend in the United Kingdom and other countries towards more differentiated premium food products.
- How did the stories of these entrepreneurs compare? Did you notice any similarities, either at the individual level, or in terms of external factors (for example social or economic trends) that have helped shape their entrepreneurial careers? When you examine the lives of entrepreneurs, it is useful to look for such patterns and also to consider the ways in which they differ. It is also important to think about the person who is telling the ‘story’ and what impact this might have on your own understanding. Narratives are among the most powerful forms of persuasive communication. For this reason, they can become a very valuable resource for entrepreneurs. For example, they can be used to help legitimise a new business idea and to obtain support from potential financiers, business partners and other influential people. This is clearly evident in Fraser’s case, where the story of the ‘Jam Boy’ is a central theme in the organisation’s communications.
Fraser Doherty’s story might be seen as reinforcing another stereotype of the entrepreneur as an exceptional individual. However the case also contains evidence of external factors that helped him create a successful business venture at such an early age. In the next activity, we examine the influence exerted by other people, including family and friends.