After only five years with Teeling Whiskey, Jack Teeling, the founder and chief executive has already ‘got one over’ on his famous serial entrepreneur father, John Teeling, of Cooley Distillery fame. Son Jack won the top prize in the emerging category at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for 2017, an award John was nominated for but never won.
Now, as Jack drives Teeling Whiskey on to international success, he is stepping out of the shadow of his dad, he tells Brian Purcell on this week’s Ready Business podcast.
“I always wanted to do my own thing,” he says. “I remember one of his friends telling me, ‘you’ll never get away from your father, he casts a long shadow’ and it’s true, but I also got exposed to a very unique upbringing. At 13, he had set me up with a virtual portfolio tracking shares every week.”
After studying commerce in UCD, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do but when an opportunity arose to work for his father in Cooley Distillery he decided to take the chance.
“I was drawn into Cooley because there was a company trying to buy it at the time but when that fell through a lot of the staff in the sales and marketing side had left and there was a gap there to be filled. But I did ask myself, did I deserve this chance, was it right for me?”
By 2007, he was Sales and Marketing Director; in 2010 he was Managing Director, the business grew by 100% and was sold to American company, Beam, for €70m.
He still saw the global opportunity in Irish whiskey however, and wanted to continue the journey he had started. Whiskey in Ireland and in Dublin in particular is going through a golden age and he wanted to put his new company, Teeling Whiskey, front and centre of that.
“And unnervingly, the back-of-the-envelope, five-year-plan has all gone according to plan,” he says. “Now it’s about taking it to the next level, building a global brand and organisation.”
As for his top three tips for succeeding in business?
1. “Be open and be a sponge to opportunities that will arise whenever and wherever you are.”
2. “Get out there and do it. Don’t over-engineer things. The business plan is there to guide you, but get out there and do it. You’ll pivot and change as things go along.”
3. “The final one is learned from my father: make decisions. Be decisive. You’ll never have perfect information so just make decisions and move forward.”
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