Feature in the FT!

Posted on July 03, 2014 by Fraser Doherty

Please read the full article at the FT website here (free to register).


At 16, Fraser Doherty asked his dad for two favours. The first, to borrow a suit, which was two sizes too big; the second, to be driven to his first business meeting at Waitrose, the British supermarket, so he could pitch his 100% fruit jams.

The Waitrose buyer he met was startled to be pitched to by someone so young, telling Mr Doherty that he had never had “a kid in here before”.

Two years later, the jams he had started making with his grandmother in her kitchen in Glasgow hit the shelves under the brand name SuperJam. Today, he supplies all the big British supermarkets as well as ones as far afield as Australia and Russia. Last month he took his grandmother to Buckingham Palace to witness him collect an MBE.

With the wisdom of age – he is now all of 25 – the business whizzkid believes starting so young was a good thing. “Child labour’s bad but if you enjoy doing what you love, you should do it.” His teenage years, he is keen to point out, were “fun”: they were not spent chained to a boiling vat of fruit 24/7. While others might have had gap years backpacking, he has been able to see the world through work, adding holiday to his overseas business trips. It means that Mr Doherty, who claims he does not suffer “terrible stress”, is not storing up a delayed teen rebellion.

Edinburgh-born Mr Doherty receives between four and five emails a day from schoolchildren who want to sell products they have created but are too scared to tell their parents. To encourage such early entrepreneurialism, Peter Thiel, the tech investor, two years ago created a fellowship that gives promising under-20s $100,000 to skip college and focus on their own projects. Unsurprisingly, this has not won him many plaudits from higher education establishments.

What originally drove Mr Doherty was a mix of passion and fear. “Money wasn’t the aim, I just loved making jam. I saw adults going into jobs they didn’t love and thought there must be a better way of doing it. I wanted to get up every day and do something I loved.”


Please read the full article at the FT website here (free to register).


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