Five business lessons from Jim Cregan of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee

I wouldn’t normally recommend learning about business from someone who used to dress up as a mermaid, but there are exceptions to every rule. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out exactly why someone would do that, and if you do, you’ll also realise that this same person – Jim, has done pretty damn well for himself.

What can you learn in this blog post?

  • How Jim discovered iced coffee
  • Why you should start a business with your sibling
  • Why you’re worried about advertising your product

Getting his iced coffee into almost all major UK supermarkets, despite having no prior background or experience in the drinks industry, was no mean feat. So how did he do it and what can we learn from his story?

1. Take the plunge

"I just kind of lost the plot and was like, I need to get out of here."

Jim was 27 and not enjoying his work, or his life. So he did what a lot of people do: travel. He took his girlfriend to Australia and just bummed around for a few months. That is, until he discovered iced coffee. "I immediately fell in love with this iced coffee," he says. He thought about how there was no such beverage back in the UK at the time - at least not how he was envisioning it. When he came back home he was getting calls about working more labouring jobs, and he couldn’t help but think, "I just don’t want to be doing this any more". That was the beginning of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee.

2. Don’t be first, be best

"There was all this kerfuffley stuff."

There actually were already other brands and types of iced coffee in the UK, but Jim thought they were too complicated. "I just wanted a solid carton you can crack open and drink and chuck in the bin," he says. Which is exactly what Jimmy’s Iced Coffee is.

3) Siblings can make the best business partners

"You never know what kind of skeletons other people are hiding in the closet."

Jim is in business with his sister, something a lot of experts would advise against. But Jim is somewhat unconventional. "You have trust right away, and you know you’re both in it to win it," he says. It might take a while to find the right buttons to push when you need to, but as long as you have a common goal - to do great business - you’ll be ok.

Listen to more VOOM Podcasts 

4) Keep it simple

"We wanted to make something that was timeless."

Another reason why simplicity is important. If a product is great and it’s simple to use - which are obviously not unrelated - then it’s more likely to be timeless. "We want people to feel excited about drinking Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, rather than just seeing it as some drink in a carton," says Jim. Another way to make something timeless: facilitate an emotional connection.

5) Believe you can do it

"If you have total belief then nothing is going to stop you."

If you want to hear Jim’s story about how he got Whole Foods to stock Jimmy’s Iced Coffee then you need to listen to the podcast, it's quite something.

But this quote from him gives you a clue as to why he did what he did: "if you’re worried about doing something, it means you’re doubting your product." Harsh, but true.

What else you can hear on the podcast:

  • Why Jim starting and building Jimmy’s Iced Coffee was the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life
  • How Darren Rook opened the first whisky distillery in London in a century
  • How Olly Bolton built ‘What A Melon’ and his advice for anyone entering the VOOM competition

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