Entrepreneur Sammy Mhaule is founder and director of beverages company Skyrule Drinks. Image: Supplied.
JOHANNESBURG - Sammy  Mhaule is toasting to the good life after skillfully using his beverages company as a springboard to venture into entrepreneurship.

The Tembisa-born businessman native is founder and director of Skyrule Drinks, which produces 100 percent 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, and OK Foods outlets, and Tsogo Sun Hotels.

Mhaule, 39, says the company also supplies the Standard Bank Rosebank branch.

Last month, Syrule Drinks delivered its first shipment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 

Entrepreneur Sammy Mhaule is founder and director of beverages company Skyrule Drinks. Image: Supplied.

“We have already started supplying the African market,” Mhaule says. “We are doing our second delivery to the DRC this month. Our product has been well received there.” 

Mhaule says the business has grown so well that they are now selling about 1 million cans per month locally.

He explains, however, that his foray into entrepreneurship has not been a bed of roses. It all started at the age of 14, when he used to sell ice-cream in vory Park and Ebony Park on the East Rand. 

The business, says Mhaule, sustained him until he was able to go 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 says. “I resigned, but I didn’t tell my parents about it.” 

Mhaule says 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 recalls 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 profit.” 

However, he says when the chicken market became too small, with competition on every street corner, it was time to look for a job again. 

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 worked for Quantum Marketing as a junior marketing officer.

Mhaule says that while in the UK, which ousted dictator Robert Mugabe once characterised as a very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses, he launched several entrepreneurial ventures including selling perfume and eco friendly shopping bags, which all failed.

“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,” says Mhaule.