Melbourne beverage startup creates juicy hangover cures

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Business is looking great for Bae Juice, the Australian-Korean beverage startup that provides antidotes to hang-overs after our boozy night-outs. Although with its aesthetically pleasing package and huge social media following, Bae Juice is more than just another pretty Millennial drink.
Tim O’Sullivan, founder of Bae Juice

Business is looking great for Bae Juice, the Australian-Korean beverage startup that provides antidotes to hangovers after our boozy night-outs.

Although with its aesthetically pleasing package and huge social media following, Bae Juice is more than just another pretty Millennial drink.

Launched in Melbourne less than 12 months ago, Bae Juice has sold over 20,000 units through its website and landed on partnerships with some of Australian largest online distributors, including Dan Murphy’s, Deliveroo and Amazon.

The business journey of Bae Juice is an interesting one: without a cent spent on traditional advertising, the company’s sales have surged by 282 percent in just five months from August to December last year.

We spoke to the founder of Bae Juice, Tim O’Sullivan, about the company’s unusual marketing strategy and making sales out of it.

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How did you come across the idea of starting an Australian-Korean business?

I was actually visiting my girlfriend’s family in Korea!

We spent heaps of time meeting cousins and aunties as well as friends etc. We spent most nights out and excited to all meet, we often drank too much… Most bar hops lead us to 7/11 where I grabbed a beer (love Asia…) and the locals grabbed some Korean pear juice? It really baffled me, so I asked why and they said ‘duh’ helps your hangover. It’s a trick that has been passed down through generations, and without knowing the specifics, the Koreans knew pears helped hangovers. After doing a bit of research of my own, I found CSIRO has reports confirming this and Bae Juice was born.

You had quite an unusual launching strategy, can you elaborate on this? (and how did it turn out?)

Amazing to think our pure excitement grew a spiralling marketing/launch idea!! We delivered over 2500 units within our first week. We put it out there: if anyone wants to try Bae Juice, message our page or us personally and bang, people went for it. We had people messaging us and we were dropping our boxes off to doors hours later.

This grew into “apparently if I message your page my friend said we can try some” which then lead into “is it true I can get some samples by just messaging”. So it was pretty cool to have heaps of interaction and people drinking our product we had spent an insane amount of time and money on. Very rewarding.

What do you think is the biggest milestone for the company so far?

I think hitting 50 stores this week specifically has been a really big moment for us and shown our growth. We also did a $20k month in our first December ever so that was like WOW we have heaps of demand and we were able to manage getting product/packing boxes, etc. ourselves.

You mentioned that, instead of paying for influencer ads like other companies that target at millennials, Bae Juice is exclusively marketed through unpaid social media posts and word of mouth. Can you explain the reasons behind this strategy?

This is honestly us not having a full understanding of the influencer market, and hearing about people not getting an ROI or much reach through it.

Having said that, it’s something we want to explore this year. We think word of mouth has been our biggest push factor, everyone loves being on the new product or gadget and I think this is one of those. It works, it’s new and there isn’t anything else like it so it’s definitely a talking point.

Were there hard times when running a business?

Funding the business through our weekly pay checks is difficult. We save, then spend money on a marketing idea or sponsor an event. We save then pay for some legal advice, we save then can afford to do some advertising, all learning along the way what is bringing in money and what isn’t. We seem to have a good understanding now, having worked with such thin budgets, to be sustainable and not drain our funds but also use them wisely.

What is the next step for Bae Juice?

We want to be in 300 stores by the end of this year, the product needs to be accessible and that’s our goal! We’re also seeking some investment to enable us to scale up and take our brand and especially our distribution and expansion to the next level, now that we have a better understanding of our position and see the potential of taking things to the next level this year and moving forward.

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