Exeter graduate entrepreneurs secure distribution with supermarket giant

Exeter graduate entrepreneurs secure distribution with supermarket giant

Exeter graduates and Co-Founders, Jesse Wilson and Tom Jordan are no strangers to the world of business, having quit regular jobs to pursue the dream of running their own craft beer company, Jubel. Just one year since they launched, they have secured distribution in more than 600 Sainsbury’s stores in four countries.

Jesse explained: “Sainsbury’s approached us after seeing our brand video and they were looking to work with disruptive brands and our mission to cut through the beer and cider market really aligned with their strategy. We’re still just a two-man band and it has been surreal to walk into a supermarket and see our beers on the shelf!”
The duo discovered a dangerously refreshing beer tradition on the University ski trip which was the beer style they wanted to drink but couldn’t find anyone brewing. They sunk their savings into a big brew that flew at a festival and escaped their corporate jobs to jump in full-time. They launched Jubel in Cornwall in summer 2017 taking on three interns from the University of Exeter and proceeded to build distribution in more than 300 pubs in just three months.
After directly sampling more than 20,000 consumers in their first summer, the team had the opportunity to review feedback and realised that branding was a key area to focus on. Jesse explained: “We wanted to be in the craft beer category, but we looked like the type of beer that sat next to world lagers. There was a definite gap from where we wanted to be and where we looked like we belonged. This was overlaid with a lack of clarity about what our brand stood for and a feeling that we needed to nail down our strategic brand positioning.”
The Jubel team turned to Pearlfisher, one of the most-awarded international design agencies, to help them with their rebranding and as Jesse explained it took a great deal of strength and collateral: “We went back to the drawing board with Pearlfisher which was a big investment but an important one to stand out from the sea of brands on-shelf. Pearlfisher brought our brand vision to cut through the beer and cider market to life through our rebrand which works verbally and visually on-pack in a distinctive way”
Jubel’s breakthrough with Sainsbury’s was partly the result of a business competition that they entered, Virgin VOOM required participants to put together a brand video, which they shared across social media and led to Sainsbury’s asking the team in for a chat about the brand and product.
As Jesse revealed: “It started with a comical brand video and has ended up with us being listed in more than 600 Sainsbury’s stores in the UK from Northern Ireland to Penzance, it’s all escalated pretty quickly! It felt like we had the right foundations to work with a big retailer with scalable supply, a perfected product and bolder branding so there wasn’t a huge scramble when we secured the listing, we were ready to go.”
The future for Jubel is exciting, the team intend to build their distribution and team, with their aim of moving their business plan and strategy from a more local and regional focus to a national one.  
For entrepreneurs in a similar position, preparing to break through the market, Jesse believes that the art of feedback is crucial. He clarified:“We really benefited from having our eyes and ears open all the time to consumer feedback. Rather than patting ourselves on the back with the positive feedback we tried to use the critical feedback to make positive changes. It was a painfully slow few months whilst we rebranded but we stayed focused on the vision and knew the work we were doing was important to get there.”

Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared Exeter said:
“It is great to see the success that Jesse and Tom are having with Jubel. From the earliest conversations we had when they were students they were very clear about what they wanted to achieve, and throughout have demonstrated a really well developed understanding of the market, ensuring that the combination of product, positioning and branding worked. They have been smart enough to adapt and develop their thinking along the way and thoroughly deserve for the business to continue to grow.”

To discover more about Jubel, visit their website and follow them on Instagram @jubelbeer.


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