Sammy Mhaule is toasting to the good life after skilfully using his beverages company as a springboard to venture into entrepreneurship.
The Tembisa businessman is founder and director of Skyrule Drinks, which produces 100% sparkling fruit juice in glass bottles and cans. The range includes apple flavour with a twist of peach and red grape with a twist of blueberry.
The sparkling fruit juice is available nationwide at Pick n Pay, Checkers Hyper, Spar, OK Foods outlets, and Tsogo Sun Hotels.
Mhaule, 39, said the company also supplied the Standard Bank Rosebank branch. Business had grown so well that they were selling about a million cans a month domestically.
He explained, however, that his foray into entrepreneurship had not been easy. It started at the age of 14 when he used to sell ice-cream in Ivory Park and Ebony Park on the East Rand.
The business, said Mhaule, sustained him until he was able to study motor engineering at a college in Kempton Park in 1997. The following year he was granted an apprenticeship by German car manufacturer BMW and was subsequently offered a full-time job at the Rosslyn plant outside Pretoria.
“However, that did not last long as I wasn’t passionate about the work,” he said. “I resigned, but I didn’t tell my parents about it.”
Mhaule said he then enrolled for a short course in business and marketing at a college in Midrand. As he attended lectures each day, his parents actually thought he was going to work.
The entrepreneur recalled that when his parents found out, it did not sit well with them. “I persuaded my father to buy chickens for me to sell and I told him I would return his money after I made a profit.”
In 2003, Mhaule then saw an advertisement in a newspaper for a marketing officer in the UK and three months later he was on a plane to Cambridge, where he worked for Quantum Marketing as a junior marketing officer.
“I learned the hard way that it’s essential to do market research before setting up a business in a foreign country, double the research.”
He returned to South Africa in 2012 and established Skyrule Drinks two years later, to provide an alternative to mainstream beverages. “I nurtured Skyrule Drinks for at least 18 months before introducing it to the market,” said Mhaule.