Brewery triumphs after £10,000 social media win from Liberis
Two years after opening, and a year after winning £10,000 in a business finance competition, Barnes-based brewery Jeffersons has demonstrated how a thorough understanding of a niche market, intelligent business planning, and access to funding are the key ingredients to help a small business to flourish.
The £10,000 win came from a social media competition organised by Liberis Finance, an award-winning funding provider that is on a mission to support small businesses in their growth strategies. Freddie Jefferies, business partner and brother to George Jefferies, entered the competition without telling anyone:
“You were asked to tell Liberis how you would use the funding in your business. After applying online I had a follow up call with Liberis and then completely forgot about it,” says Freddie.
A few months later George received word from Liberis that they had won! He couldn’t believe it and finally told his brother that they were receiving a £10,000 cash injection!
The brothers launched Jeffersons Brewery in leafy, South-West London’s Barnes after they identified a gap in the market with the majority of London’s trendy micro-breweries being based in East London. They were also receiving considerable interest in what was initially George’s hobby:
“It started out with a home brew kit, and it took a year and a half of testing ingredient combinations before creating a palatable beer,” says George. “We brewed our ‘Hoppily Ever After’ beer for our brother’s wedding and got great feedback, as well as commercial requests, helping us to realise we could make a business out of this.”
After two years of business planning and obtaining a commercial brewing licence as well as £40,000 funding from a Government-backed, non-profit, start-up finance organisation, StartUpLoans, the brothers launched Jeffersons at the July 2017 Barnes Fair:
“It was a really supportive community event, where we had exclusivity and managed to sell over 1,000 pints of beer” says Freddie. “The journey since then has been a steep learning curve, as we are doing everything in house, from bottle and packaging design to delivery logistics.”
The £10,000 win from Liberis Finance in October 2018 meant that the brothers were able to expand production capacity by increasing tank space, and sell their beers on wholesale sites such as Eebria:
“This has been a great way to get our business out there, producing a ripple effect where people actually approach us,” says George. “We have since won an exclusive contract with the Riverside studios, marking an exciting time for us. We couldn’t have done it so quickly without our Liberis win.”
Freddie says their experience of the alternative finance community has been excellent:
“It is fantastic that there are alternative options to funding outside of traditional banks, especially those that specialise in small, start-up businesses,” he explains. “We are extremely grateful to Liberis and have been impressed with its responsible and convenient funding solutions, as well as the support it provides to SMEs. Liberis has marketing workshops planned, designed to help people exactly like my brother and I, so we’ll be looking out for more information on that.”
Looking forward, George and Freddie have big plans for their business and while there is always more to learn they believe they have a good proposition:
“The biggest factors in a brewery’s success are consistency and quality, as well as adaptability. It’s a fickle market and vital to keep producing new beers that meet the sector’s fast-moving trends and styles,” says George.
“Our own tap room is on the road map for us, as is further increasing production capacity, investing in equipment, marketing and branding and getting ourselves better known at craft beer exhibitions,” continues George. “Three years from now, we hope to be in supermarkets and exporting internationally.”
“The overall plan is to build a chain of tap rooms,” Freddie adds. “It’s a crowded market and there is limited tap space in pubs, so we see this as a key area for growth.”
Rob Staathof, CEO of Liberis Finance, says the competition was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate tangible support to its key audience and collect essential business insight:
“It enabled us to talk to great swathes of interesting SMEs, eager to grow and able to tell us what support they need from the alternative finance sector. We’re delighted to see the achievements of the Jeffersons Brewery and proud to have been able to help in the business’ formative years.”