Bruce Whitfield chats to Nigel Jacobs, co-founder of the Jacobs Jam Company.

- Nigel and Christynn Jacobs learned the jam business the hard way after leaving their corporate jobs to start the Jacobs Jam Company

- Nigel Jacobs tells the story of their successes and failures on The Money Show

Some of South Africa's big retailers are doing the work to procure local products, and to increase the variety of home-grown items they stock on their shelves.

One example is the deal Shoprite struck with the Western Cape's Jacobs Jam Company in October last year.

In under six months, the business has expanded from supplying 10 Checkers stores to 20 across the province, Shoprite says.

The company was founded by married couple Nigel and Christynn Jacobs just over three years ago.

The former marketer and food technologist left their corporate jobs to pursue the dream they'd had since they met 15 years ago.

"She's a food scientist and the brains behind Jacobs Jam... and I'm the marketer" says Nigel in conversation with Bruce Whitfield.

We both worked for big corporates and we got our education and our experience and we paid our school fees... In May 2018 we registered the business and started our finance and funding applications, but we resigned our jobs in December 2018...

Nigel Jacobs, Co-founder - Jacobs Jam Company

... so we had a 8-10 month head start on the business, earning salaries while we were working on our dreams part-time... weekends, public holidays... On the 1st of January 2019 we were basically out on our own.

Nigel Jacobs, Co-founder - Jacobs Jam Company

While the pair had a "war chest" to see them through till June 2019, they had not counted on how long it would take them to get a loan.

Whereas the forecast had been six months, it took them two years to get full funding.

They also learned the hard way that making jam is a very precise science.

Making jam is similar to baking a cake - if you don't get the right ratios of ingredients... like pectin, a key ingredient in jam, and you don't hit the right temperatures for the right contact time of temperature, then your jam will flop... We learned that the hard way when we started our company on the first few production runs.

Nigel Jacobs, Co-founder - Jacobs Jam Company

Jacobs says the company is almost unique in the sense that they started at scale, which is unusual for a start-up.

They run the business from an 800 square metre factory in Ceres, the heart of fruit country in the Cape.

When we wrote our business plan we went to the funders and put a plan on the table to start off in an industrial factory, so the only thing that happened in our kitchen was the product and recipe development... We didn't sell the jam from our kitchen as a small enterprise.

Nigel Jacobs, Co-founder - Jacobs Jam Company

We did it differently, with high risk, hoping that the retailers would come on board... and, after three years the retailers HAVE finally come on board... Ceres is basically the same town where the most popular juice in South Africa comes from, so hopefully now the most popular jam will also come from Ceres!

Nigel Jacobs, Co-founder - Jacobs Jam Company

Our value proposition is a premium product at a value price point, so we're not going to be cheaper than the most popular but we will be competitive... The kicker for us is it's convenient and safe to use. The plastic tub you can hand to a child, and the child can make his or her own sandwich. With tin or with glass it might not be as safe.

Nigel Jacobs, Co-founder - Jacobs Jam Company

Listen to the story of Jacobs Jam in the audio at the top of the article

2023-06-06T18:07:21Z dg43tfdfdgfd