THE STORY

In 1819, a 14-year-old boy in Scotland had just lost his father. The proceeds from his farm were used to buy a small grocery store, and despite the huge responsibility, the teenager stepped up to the challenge.

His name was fixed to the door—John Walker.

Young Johnnie soon became known as the go-to supplier of tea, fine wines and spirits. At the time though, he found whiskeys to be quite inconsistent. So he decided to blend malts his own way, giving birth to a new and unique whiskey. Customers were all over it!

After John’s death in 1857, his son Alexander took over. He dreamed of expansion and bought Cardhu Distillery. But that wasn’t enough. With an ambition of conquering the world, he made a deal with ships’ captains and sent his whiskey across the globe! He then developed a square bottle to ensure less breakage and more bottles packed per ship.

The next generation of Walkers—George and Alexander II—led the brand into the 20th century with the iconic red label and black label. As for the striding man on the label, that was casually sketched on a napkin by a cartoonist. Just like that, John Walker the Victorian grocer became Johnnie Walker, the Edwardian dandy!

In 1999, the image inspired the £100m “Keep Walking” campaign whose core message was to “inspire men to progress”. Needless to say that today, 200 years later, Johnnie Walker is still walking.

Bottom right: the initial John Walker grocery store.

AMBITION, UNCAPPED

Shoot for the moon and you might land among the stars. Shoot for the first floor and you might land on the sidewalk… maybe out of breath. Either way, it really is all up to you.

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© Story by Tarek Issa.

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