Fraser Doherty is the founder of SuperJam, a company that uses traditional recipes to create a range of 100% pure fruit jams, which are sweetened with grape juice and made using superfruits such as blueberries and cranberries. 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.'
Q: Can you sum up the experience of setting up a business at such a young age?
A: Starting SuperJam has been an incredible adventure - I definitely wouldn't have imagined that what started as a hobby in my parents' tiny kitchen could grow into a company supplying the biggest supermarket chains in the world! Being just a teenager when I got my ideas off the ground meant that I had no money or experience to help me. Thankfully, I was able to find people who had experience to help me and was able to get people to believe in my idea enough that they helped to fund its launch.
Q: What were three challenges you faced when setting up SuperJam and how did you overcome them?
A: Having no money was definitely a big challenge! I was able to convince a design agency to work with me to create the brand quite cheaply - they did that because they believed that SuperJam would one day be a big success and hopefully they'd benefit in the future from repeat business.
At 17, I wasn't in a position to build my own jam factory! I had to travel around the country trying to convince huge companies to believe in my idea to make jam 100% from fruit. Thankfully, I found a factory who were willing to give it a shot.
I had no idea how supermarkets worked! Although I had no experience, I have been amazed by the amount of support available to young people trying to get their business off the ground. In my case, I was able to find a mentor, a guy called Kevin. He had a lot of experience of supermarkets and was willing to spend a bit of time explaining to me how he had made his business a success.
Q: Now that you've experienced being an entrepreneur, is it something you can see yourself doing forever?
A: I definitely can't imagine working for someone else! For me, running my own business is a real adventure. I can't think of anything I could be doing with my life that would be more fun or more fulfilling!
Q: What's the single most important thing you need to do to be successful in business?
A: I think so long as you have a good idea and believe in yourself enough to give it a shot, you stand a chance of learning a huge amount. Maybe your idea won't work out first time but if you're always willing to change it or come up with something else, you're bound to create something successful.
Q: When does a great idea become a viable business?
A: I meet a lot of people who have good ideas - but not a lot of them stand a chance of being a great business. Your idea has to be something that people want to buy, something that retailers want to put on their shelves and something that people will get excited about enough to want to tell their friends.
My advice to anyone starting out in business would be to search out a mentor. Q: What advice would you give to teenage entrepreneurs looking for success?
A: My advice to anyone starting out in business would be to search out a mentor. Someone who has been there and done it before, who is willing to share the lessons they have learned with you.
Q: Why do you think SuperJam has become so successful?
A: SuperJam is a really simple idea - jam made 100% from fruit. It is definitely a product that people wanted to buy and, helped by good design and promotion, they've put millions of jars of it into their shopping baskets!
Q: What's next for SuperJam?
A: We're launching in the US, Canada and Australia, as well as launching new products. I'm also really excited to grow our charity, The SuperJam Tea Parties, which runs hundreds of free tea parties for elderly people who live alone or in care homes.