Work.It Podcast Ep. 3: How to Build a Drinks Brand

Startup tips Business advice
Estimated read time: 2 mins
Published: 23/01/2019

It’s time for episode 3 of Work.It! Work.It is a conversational podcast where we hear from business founders and directors about how their business babies came to be and what they learned along the way.

This week, Angelica grabbed an iced coffee with the co-founder of Jimmy’s, Suzie Cregan.


Jimmy’s started 9 years ago when Jim Cregan developed a taste for iced coffee on the forecourts of Australia’s petrol stations. After an excited phone call home to his sister, Suzie, the pair were in business.

Suzie tells Angelica that, despite running her own café, as soon as she heard her brother’s enthusiasm over the phone she didn’t hesitate to put her own business on the market: “I asked him why he wanted me involved and he said ‘Because you’ll get s*** done’”.

The duo’s business strategy was to create an unbeatable product and aim high: “Jimmy always said…we start at the top and work our way down… because we’re a premium product and that’s what we do”. After making their way in the back door of Wholefoods- literally, like, through the tradesman’s entrance (the podcast is worth a listen for that story alone)- and securing a buyers meeting with Selfridges- “we just rang the hotline number and got through”– Jimmy’s had found it’s premium stockists.

The brand grew from its ‘Original’ iced coffee line to include cartons of Skinny, Mocha and Oat Milk deliciousness. Suzie reveals one of the team’s simple and fail-safe NPD techniques: “We’d sit in Starbucks and listen to what people were ordering. That’s how we decided on Mocha and now it’s one of our best sellers”.

Finding your people is something Angelica and Suzie touch on a lot, as Suzie admits some of Jimmy’s biggest mistakes have been hiring the wrong people: “We hired not knowing what we were hiring for, with no job description”. Since then, they’ve hired for culture fit rather than skill, searching for kindness, integrity and people who are motivated to work despite their relaxed working environment.

For entrepreneurs in the early business stages, Suzie advises not to overthink your consumer and try to avoid following trends resolutely: “What people are preaching isn’t necessarily what they’re drinking”. She also believes a complete focus on your work is a must, as it’s not an easy road: “Is the idea jumping around your brain and keeping you awake at night? Because if it isn’t, you won’t have the drive to do it”. Jimmy’s was founded at a time when there were fewer new FMCG brands around but in the current, heavily saturated market, Suzie maintains it’s vital to make sure there’s a genuine demand for what you’re offering: “You’ve got to respect and listen to other opinions and ideas because if, once you’ve launched, people aren’t picking it up off the shelf then you’ve got a real problem. You’ve got to be really honest with yourself and what you’re doing.”

Suzie talks how to build an unstoppable team, where to (and not to) spend your money and offers lots of valuable insights on the dos and don’ts of building a successful drinks brand. You can hear the whole conversation here, whilst we go find ourselves an iced coffee…

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