“We barely slept”: Two-year-old Bae Juice inks 900-store deal with Woolworths

Bae Juice co-founders

Bae Juice co-founders Liam Gostencnik, Tim O'Sullivan and Sumin Do (left to right). Source: supplied.

Bae Juice, the Aussie business popularising Korean pear juice Down Under, has inked a big deal with Woolworths supermarkets to stock its products in 900 stores nationwide from October.

Founded just a few years ago, the deal is the latest win for the company, which has successfully marketed its product as a Korean hangover cure and is already stocked in independent supermarkets across the country.

Co-founder Tim O’Sullivan says they’ve already begun scaling up production to meet new orders in a significant expansion of their operations.

“Confirming the deal was one of the greatest days of our lives,” O’Sullivan says of finding out the deal had been finalised earlier this week.

O’Sullivan says he was refreshing his email “minute-by-minute” before Woolies signed the dotted line, having waited a week after the decision was delayed.

“We barely slept over the last week, it was so stressful,” O’Sullivan says.

Being stocked in Woolies will significantly increase Bae Juice’s national profile and will allow the company to invest in charting its next steps, including an ambition to become stockists in every major bottle shop across the country.

“We’re lucky, but sometimes you make your own luck,” O’Sullivan says about Bae Juice’s success.

“Two years ago I thought this product was liquid gold … it was only a matter of time, no matter what happened in the world,” he says, referencing COVID-19.

Bae Juice

The Woolworths deal was negotiated by FMCG consultants at Thrive-Collective, a decision O’Sullivan says was the right one, given how daunting the complexities of negotiating a 900-store deal were.

“We’ve always said, if it’s not your field, you might need to outsource it, and it’s paid off,” he says.

“[Woolworths] was really into it straight away.”

Scaling the company during the COVID-19 pandemic has been no easy task, O’Sullivan says, requiring the co-founders to take on extra jobs and lean on their close relationships with international suppliers and farmers.

The business ran into some cashflow stress earlier this year, which was solved by taking a step back and reassessing their priorities.

“We’ve taken on a lot more roles ourselves to cut our overheads, and that took the pressure off everything,” he says.

“We were spending thousands on public relations, social media and all that stuff. It was just adding up.

“We’ve been really hands-on, and that’s really helped. It’s just been a process of figuring stuff out over time.”

NOW READ: Juicy deals and pear-shaped starts: How Tim O’Sullivan convinced IGA and FoodWorks to stock his hangover remedy Bae Juice

NOW READ: “David vs. Goliath”: Sugar-free drink brand Nexba wins Telstra Business Award amid plans to disrupt the soft drink market

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Jen
Jen
2 months ago

Some well-to-do’s leverage on the ground connections on both sides, adopt a pseudo-science stance to sell sugar in plastic to an actively engaged demographic who don’t yet care about their environment and food systems. The founder “finding it effective” sounds as reliable a study as “hair of the dog” and the CSIRO blog piece on it is neither A: a peer-reviewed scientific article or B: anything more than a science body reluctantly leaning into the “false news market” (anecdotes) where they can have their papers on one hand (that serves the actual mission of science and people with an attention span more than 5 seconds long) and on the other hand, captivate an audience that doesn’t need much more than the anecdotal. And hangovers come the next day (after, you know, the alcohol has been processed). 

This isn’t “David vs Goliath”, this is literally, big business doing what it’s always done, and somehow I’ve got an article peppering my LinkedIn as if the founders have done anything more than commit several hard years of hustle (the bit that can be commended) to servicing the absolute lowest hanging capitalism fruit selling junk to an audience with disposable income via retailers that know it. 

TL;DR: while the world is celebrating less traffic clogging and all that stuff mid-covid, lets stop putting a crown on imported junk being sold at scale in plastic at retailers at scale that are objectively harmful as if it’s the challenging fruit (it isn’t).