Banbury entrepreneur who risked home to build business is looking overseas
An ambitious Banbury entrepreneur is poised to break into overseas markets just years after risking his home to create his business.
Mobile phone accessories specialist Jolyon Bennett (44) is already outpacing tech giant Apple for sales of USB-C cables after setting up his company Juice seven years ago.
The founder and chief executive of Juice, based in Haslemere Way where it employs 35 people, is determined that his products should become luxury must-haves for consumers rather than functional items bought only when needed.
He has already grown the business with a recently revealed new partnership with Milton Keynes-based Ingram Micro, a leading distributor of computer and technology products.
He said: “I am supplying mobile phone accessories that people feel they deserve rather than just need.
“I’m looking at our accessories as being part of the luxury goods market.”
Last year Juice sold more than five million units - which includes chargers, cables, plugs and powerbanks.
Ninety-five per cent of its sales are through stores with the rest online but Mr Bennett says that share is growing.
He said: “I am looking to grow the business by 40 per cent next year and break into the American market.
“I will be narrowing our offer in the UK, which will help grow sales here, and I hope to sell in central Europe as well as America.”
It seems Mr Bennett has always had an appetite for a challenge.
Juice was founded after a Eureka moment over breakfast seven years ago but it was uphill from there. After researching how to start a business, he flew to China to find factories to supply his products and on his return home eventually managed to secure a £100,000 business overdraft with Lloyds bank taking charge of his home.
Despite recruiting three members of staff it still took months of phone calls to find a retailer willing to stock his accessories.
At one point he realised he had just weeks before his money ran out but success finally arrived after an awkward performance at a Dragons’ Den-style event for retailing giant John Lewis.
He said: “John Lewis loved the brand, wanted to launch it for me and were going to place an order for 5,000 units.
“My staff and myself ordered the product from China, found a UK company to make the cartons and we stayed up through the night folding them until our fingers bled and then delivered the order to John Lewis.
He said: “John Lewis sold 2,000 units in the first week and Juice became the fastest selling brand they had ever launched.
“Other retailers started to take the brand seriously and Juice fast.
For the immediate future, the uncertainty caused by the seemingly endless squabbling over Brexit is a headache.
He said: “I think the outcome will be positive overall but it is a car crash for business at the moment.”