Delivering the goods
By Harry Walter, Claudia Byatt & Cassandra Nguyen.
Sipping on a glass of red or cracking open a cold one at work is a ritual most workplaces reserve for special occasions. However, for David Berger and Nathan Besser, the co-founders of alcohol delivery service Jimmy Brings, having a ‘staffie’ in the office is a daily fringe benefit.
Jimmy Brings, a burgeoning Sydney based business, owes its humble beginnings and subsequent success, to an unannounced visit from a mysterious “whiskey guy.”
After being told by the authorities delivering alcohol was not possible, business partners David Berger and Nathan Besser had a chance meeting with a whiskey retailer who drove a “black Audi A3 with the number plates ‘WHISKEY,’” Berger recalls.
“He said we just needed a particular licence…he was the one who gave us the awareness but I have no idea who he is,” Berger chuckles.
Jimmy Brings is about to expand into Melbourne with the backing of their new partners, Woolworths.
“Now that we have the resources behind us, it makes sense to make a big push into Melbourne…we want to be on the ground by the middle of April and full steam ahead by the start of May,” Berger explains.
The duo grew up in Sydney, meeting in high-school before reconnecting later through Besser’s wife, Ariela. Their partnership was born when they began working together at the food delivery company, SupperTime. “We started working together about 8 or 9 years ago. Nathan was the owner and I started working there as a part-time manager,” Berger says.
“And after a few months we decided to go into business together,” Besser elaborates.
The pair faced some challenges in the early stages of working together. “It was Nathan’s business and I bought in as a 30% partner and then I became a 50% partner… it was challenging to get to a point where we felt like equal partners. Nathan had a lot of authority in the business, he knew everyone, he knew all the drivers and all the restaurants,” Berger admits.
“It’s still kind of like that,” Besser laughs.
As well as his dry sense of humour, Besser is also a budding author who lives with his wife and three children. He wrote poetry and short fiction from an early age with three of his short stories featuring in the Best Australian Stories collection. In 2016, Besser’s first novel, ‘Man in the Corner,’ was published with Simon Baker and Rebecca Rigg later obtaining the rights to the screenplay. In terms of the future of his writing and Jimmy Brings, Besser plans on juggling both careers with another book due at the end of the year.
Berger, like Besser, was born and bred in Sydney, living with his wife and two children. He credits the growth of the brand as the most satisfying aspect. “I got an Uber here this morning and my driver asked me what I did. I said I run a business called Jimmy Brings and his eyes lit up saying he sees our vans all the time. It’s very satisfying to have built something from literally nothing to a brand where it is hard to meet someone in Sydney who doesn’t know it.”
However, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Berger and his family. “For my immediate family, at times it has been a very difficult schedule to keep. Up until a year ago I was finishing work at 11pm and that had been the case for many years…that was very difficult,” Berger concedes.
In their roles as joint directors, both Berger and Besser ‘bring’ different business styles to the table. Berger describes Besser as “aggressive and very executional. He likes to get in and do things…Nathan has been more involved in the marketing, finance and legal areas of the business.”
While Berger, according to himself and with the nod of approval from Besser, says “I’m more contemplative, thinking about how we should do things and what’s the perfect state. I have tended to take a more active role in our technology and to a large extent our operations.”
In 2012, shortly after a meeting with the mysterious “whiskey guy,” Berger and Besser started their small alcohol delivery business, Jimmy Brings, whilst still running Suppertime. Besser says Jimmy Brings began “with one fridge in the office…a phone number, a menu and then we had a website a year after that. It had its own brand and following…it continued growing and about a year and a half ago we released an app. After selling SupperTime in 2015, we became full time with Jimmy Brings in 2016.”
Jimmy Brings delivers beer, wine, and spirits in 30 minutes to Sydney’s eastern, inner-western and lower north shore suburbs as well as the northern beaches.
Almost four years ago the Sydney lockout laws were introduced, affecting not only pubs and clubs but also bottle shops including Jimmy Brings. The laws cut Jimmy Brings’ trade from midnight to 10pm, their peak hours of sale. “It reduced the business by about 40% so it cut the legs out from the profitability of the business but fortunately we still had SupperTime back then,” Besser recounts.
Fortuitously, Jimmy Brings’ sharp growth overcame the lockout setback as consumers chose to use the delivery service as a convenience rather than just a late-night partying supplier.
The recent partnership with Woolworths, is a further endorsement of the duo’s rapid rise in business. “We had a contact there and were assessing different strategic opportunities…we ultimately decided to partner with a big retailer,” Besser reveals.
Critics would suggest their success is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time, others would credit their working partnership as the key to their success. Both only in their thirties, the young entrepreneurs have lofty ambitions for Jimmy Brings, “by 2020, we will be in every capital city in Australia,” Berger predicts.