Welcome to The Voice of Africa, today we have a special guest with us, Uduimoh Umolu, Umolu set out to become one of the youngest creators of premium liquor. He launched Jon Basil Tequila in December 2018 – named after Umolu’s father – following an inspirational visit to Jalisco, Mexico. His tequila has amassed a loyal customer base of 15,000 in Illinois and will soon start distributing in other states after securing deals with Walmart, Binny’s and Mariano’s.
TVOA: Can you tell us about your childhood growing up?
UDUIMOH: I was born and raised in Chicago IL, my father was of Nigerian descent, and my mother of Ghanian descent. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Ghana frequently and live there for three years during my childhood. I feel as if experiencing the differences in cultures is what sparked my initial curiosity in solving the problems of the world.
TVOA: Are there any other role models/ mentors you had that you could confide in his/her process?
UDUIMOH: My father was my biggest role model in terms of being a genuine, and real human being. However, I was very fascinated by the achievements of people who took untraditional routes and influenced the world around them
TVOA: Why did you want to get in the Alcohol Beverage business and what made you decide to start with tequila?
UDUIMOH: Long story short I failed at my first big venture which was a mobile application for experiences happening around you. I aimed to provide a live feed prior to IG and snapchat. After achieving a lot of organic buzz around the app and brand I realized that my ability to build strong and resonating brands could be instrumental in entrepreneurship. I was looking to start a new business that I would be able to build a lifestyle brand around as well as recession proof. I slowly began to zero in on Alcohol. Tequila has always been my drink of choice because of the health benefits.
TVOA: What project have you worked on that you’ve been most passionate about- felt the most enriched by?
UDUIMOH: Partnering with a blood work organization for awareness and fundraising showed how we can align the brand with purpose driven events definitely left me feeling enriched.
TVOA: What was your inspiration for the name “Jon Basil”, what is its meaning or story?
UDUIMOH: My Grandfather on my father’s name was John. He was a great man in Nigerian history. If you know the story of their independence you may have come across his name. Basil is the name of the man who was instrumental in getting my Father situated in the U.S. Traditionally you name your first son after your Dad in our culture but Basil was also so prominent to my dad that he combined the name for his first son my oldest brother to Jon Basil.
TVOA: What type of market are you trying to go after?
UDUIMOH: It is for the ambitous ones. The ones who value moments with friends and family. The ones who continuously realize normal is not good enough. The ones who want to build a world that they are happy to live in u
TVOA: There’s a lot of Tequila brands out there, what makes Jon Basil different?
UDUIMOH: Jon Basil is the first minority, millennial owned and operated Premium Tequila Brand in the world. It was built from the ground up. Brick by Brick. The product’s branding matches it’s quality.
TVOA: Are you looking to go head-to-head with the Don Julio’s of the world?
UDUIMOH: There is currently enough room in the world for the major brands to move over. This is the first time in history when brands can communicate with their core community directly, and we plan to do so authentically and real. Everyone won’t identify with it but for the ones who do it will be real and lasting
TVOA: I’m sure you faced many challenges and had to do a lot of research and learning about the industry prior to launching your business. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
UDUIMOH: It gets deep here because before I started we failed. Working with the wrong people, rushing the process, lack of patience all these things landed me in a mountain of debt and failure. We had to start from scratch and rebuild.
TVOA: What are your biggest challenges today?
UDUIMOH: Balancing my day job with the business has been difficult. Finding the right channels to create awareness. Deciding what to prioritize when there are so many legs of the business
TVOA: What is your favorite part about running Jon Basil?
UDUIMOH: It was made to be fun. It was made so that I could create a brand that would allow me to explore all of my creative ideas, as well as business acumen to create a world that I would want to live in. Things feel the way I intended it too. The people and connections is in itself fun. We use spirits during celebratory moments or when building relationships, or to enhance experiences. All of these aspects make it enjoyable.
TVOA: Can you describe some of the flavor profiles of the various cocktails you also offer ?
UDUIMOH: With the Blanco it works very well with citrus based cocktails. It is in its purest form when it’s a Blanco. Reposado can be paired with another variety of cocktails. It has vanilla and caramel notes so keep this in mind when you pair it.
TVOA: How do you drink Jon Basil, Can you drink it by itself or do you recommend mixing it with other things?
UDUIMOH: The goal was to create a Tequila that kept the body of the Tequila but was smooth enough for sipping. So yes you can definitely mix it. However the Anejo which is unreleased is best Neat in my opinion
TVOA: Have you gotten sick of drinking tequila?
UDUIMOH: It has always been my drink of choice. It can be drank so many ways. Those who say they only drink Dark, there are dark options so the short answer is no. It is the only spirit that is an upper as well as one of the few distilled from fruits. So for me it’s honestly the best. It’s the only way to go.
TVOA: Where is Jon Basil currently distributed? Where will you be distributing next?
UDUIMOH: Currently in Illinois, Will be going to NY, Texas, Cali, and Florida soon. I have plans to expand to Africa in the future, but top secret.
TVOA: Is Jon Basil available online as well?
UDUIMOH :It is Via 3rd party online retailers
TVOA: How do you wish to see the future in the liquor industry in Africa ?
UDUIMOH: I want to see African Entrepreneurs dominating the market. It is an emerging market and I believe we should emerge from it with our own products
TVOA: What’s your top 3 success tips for young entrepreneurs?
UDUIMOH: Patience, Persistence and consistency. Don’t get too high on the highs or too low on lows, and take whatever step forward you can.
TVOA: How can The Voice of Africa support and contribute to your causes
UDUIMOH: Spreading the word of what’s going on with African Entrepreneurs globally. Spreading our message that we can build the continent for ourselves
TVOA: What is the best way for people to reach you?
UDUIMOH: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at Finding_Duimoh