This week we chat to millennial entrepreneur Tim O’Sullivan. Alongside his girlfriend, Tim started the hangover remedy business Bae Juice less than a year ago and the natural Korean pear juice product is already on the shelves in outlets such as Foodworks and IGAs and available online from Dan Murphy’s, Deliveroo and Amazon.
TO’S: When I was in Korea, I experienced the hangover remedy first-hand when I noticed the locals drinking pear juice before a big night out. I decided to give it a go myself and when I woke up the morning after a big night feeling fresh, I knew I had to bring it to Australia as we had nothing like it. Given how much Aussies love to have a few drinks, but also care about their wellness, I knew it would be the perfect market for Bae Juice.
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise off the ground?
TO’S: I think dealing with everything all at once has been the challenge. As new business owners, we have to understand logistics, marketing, legalities, finances, stockists, social media, etc.
It’s a lot to manage both mentally and physically and I think that’s the difference between some people and companies getting through the difficult early stages or not. We don’t have any core experience and are basically learning along the way, which makes it more stressful, intense and challenging. However, it also makes it more rewarding and the skills we are learning will be valuable to us throughout our careers.
ISB: I understand you’ve achieved significant growth without spending a single cent on “traditional” advertising – please tell us briefly how you have got the message about the product out?
TO’S: We started by stocking the product in my café, which allowed us to get it into people’s hands and get their feedback. From there we started delivering it to local cafés for free so they could do the same.
Then we created an Instagram page and told people that if they wanted to try the product, all they had to do was message
ISB: How do you ensure a smooth logistics process bearing in mind your chief ingredients come from overseas?
TO’S: The biggest thing for us is to be aligned with the cultural values of our supplier. Korean business is all about interpersonal relationships rather than emails and paperwork, so we call and text them all the time to maintain that ongoing communication and friendly relationship.
I have also been trying to learn the language and will try to drop Korean words and phrases when speaking with them, and I can tell they appreciate the effort.
ISB: What is your vision for the venture in the next couple of years?
TO’S: We are currently stocked across VIC, NSW and QLD and have plans to roll out across SA and WA very soon. We want to continue to grow our physical presence in stores across the country, and would love to be in a convenience store so Bae Juice is easy to access for everyone.
We also have plans to take Bae Juice global and enter the UK and US markets in the next couple of years.
ISB: And, finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on this journey you’d share with others looking to start their own business?
TO’S: The main thing I’ve learnt is not to get swept up in outsourcing too much from the start. When you start your own business, every penny counts, so keep as much as you can internal or lean on talented family and friends.
We had close friends do our graphic design for the Bae Juice packaging and did all of the social media ourselves. We rolled up our sleeves and did all the send outs, and continue to do so now. This allows us to spend the money where we really need to, and where we know we don’t have the skills in-house.