- Text by Alex King
When Dorset lad Jimmy Cregan left dead-end jobs and gruelling English winters behind to travel around Australia, he had no idea the trip would turn him into an entrepreneur.
Iced coffee reenergised him after surf sessions and helped him struggle through his hangovers in Oz, but after returning to the UK and discovering he couldn’t find a decent cold brew anywhere, he knew he was the man to put that right.
He persuaded his older sister Suzie to let her cafe moonlight as an R&D lab in search of a recipe that would bring the UK’s iced coffee game up to scratch.
We caught up with Jimmy to find out more about making it as an indie business.
How and why did you start Jimmy’s Iced Coffee?
The discovery of massively addictive cartons of iced coffee in Australia got my brain ticking. I came back to the UK and saw that all the ready-to-drink iced coffees in the supermarkets weren’t up to scratch and I really wanted that ‘feeling’ I got when I had my favourite Ozzy Iced Coffee. I then worked on a plan to make my own. I got the business up and running because my soul was on fire for the idea and it wouldn’t leave my brain, like some sort of virus. I also started it because there was nothing else in the world I could do apart from dig holes and dress up as a mermaid and introduce bands on a stage.
Is it a good time to strike it alone?
Alone or with a business partner, the timing has to be right. The thing is, you’ll know if the time is right. The stars will align, luck will be on your side, your passion will be at its strongest and you will make the jump without even thinking about it. If you’re balancing on the edge for too long, the time is not right. In terms of external support for starting a business, now is the best time.
What were you doing beforehand?
Digging holes in the winter and dressing up in stupid costumes, hosting corporate arenas at festivals. I got my entrepreneurial spirit from my roots in Dubai buying fake surf backpacks and selling them to pals at school and setting up an illegal beer delivery service on the south coast. Fun times.
What challenges have you faced?
Tonnes. Every day is a challenge. Whether it’s faulty products, delayed production runs, staff, pricing issues, marketing blunders, congestion charges, running out of fuel in both vehicles and bodies, missing meetings, prioritising and learning to say NO!
Who or what do you take inspiration from?
Southbourne where we live is my main inspiration. The cliff-top, the sea, the incredible beach, it helps put daily life into perspective. A few folks have inspired me over time, too, from brand owners, bands and generally rad folk. Old skool cars, quality photography and road trips form part of our inspiration to mould Jimmy’s into what it is.
Are there any indie brands out there that you think are doing great things?
There are a heap of indie brands doing their thing but my stand out favourite is Sandows Cold Brew. Everything about them from their branding, packaging and ingredients is spot on and they are so so fresh. You can see that their souls bleed cold brew and they just rock.
What does independence mean to you?
It means everything! Getting your driving licence is one the first great feelings of independence. The day we paid off all of our business debt was kind of the same feeling. If Jimmy’s collapses tomorrow, we don’t owe anyone a penny so we’ll walk away knowing we tried our absolute hardest to make something awesome.
What’s the single greatest lesson you’ve learned from setting up your own business?
You’ve got to be in it to win it. If you are honestly not 100% committed, you’re gonna lie in bed for a few more minutes when you should already be up and at it. If your energy and passion aren’t there, you’re gonna struggle employing and empowering people and even worse you’re not going to convince someone to buy your swag.
What are your ambitions for the future of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee?
De-risk ourselves by partnering with a larger company to help us grow. Ideally, I want to do a world wide road trip in some filthy 4X4 van and pick up a Jimmy’s in every petrol station we stop at.
Find out more about Jimmy’s Iced Coffee.