By Aashita Grover, Sharanya Pogaku and Janice Seo
So Who Are We?
Hey, you aspiring entrepreneur! We’re Aashita, Sharanya, and Janice, the co-founders of Spill The Tea. Our company is on a mission to change the way you drink bubble tea and bring those delicious little tapioca pearls to the doors of all who love them! So far in our journey we’ve had the honor of being featured in the Wall Street Journal and becoming finalists in the I.Invest National Youth Business Competition. (Check us out here!) Don’t worry: after we tell you a little bit about ourselves, we’ll delve into succeeding as a Gen-Z entrepreneur!
A Unique Idea
Like all good companies (lol), Spill the Tea was started out of necessity. Our parents refused to drive us to the mall or local cafe every time we had a bubble tea craving. Understandably, they couldn’t take us whenever we wanted because of their busy schedules and the fact that their wallets were heavily in pain due to our bubble tea cravings. None of us had our driving licenses yet so we all had to settle for the less appealing apple juice (gross) or milk (ew). And that’s when it hit us! Why wasn’t there an easy way to make bubble tea at home whenever we wanted? Coffee machines are essential parts of the American household—but where was the bubble-tea-making machine? We pounced on this gap in the market and decided to create our own device, the Bubbler, which would automatically make bubble tea.
It was a perfect idea and we were stoked to get started. However, with time, we found that we didn’t have access to the funds and resources that we needed to build a working prototype. And because we didn’t want to continuously bother our parents for more money, we decided to start our catering business model, and now our kit model! With that, Spill the Tea was born, and we’ve never looked back!
A Little Bit of Advice
It’s definitely hard to have your ideas be taken seriously as a high schooler, but with the environment around us bubbling with youth entrepreneurship, there’s no better time to do it.
Some lessons we’d pass along to you:
Don’t be afraid to revamp your idea. One of the scariest things is accepting that maybe your original idea wasn’t the best, and that to succeed you need to change things up. It’s all good! Spill The Tea went through a rebranding THREE times before we settled on kits. We’re still considering adding a new product line/shifting our focus.
Treat everything like it’s a $10,000 check. Down the road, you’ll learn that even $250 can make a dent in your finances. Don’t undervalue any investment!
Market is EVERYTHING. Make sure you’re conducting a thorough analysis. There’s no such thing as a bad idea - but the market for your product/service WILL determine if it sinks/swims. Don’t leave anything up to chance.
Don’t take social media marketing for granted!! There is sooo much you can do on platforms like Instagram and Facebook for FREE. Build an audience for yourself, reach out to other pages, etc!
You’ll NEVER be prepared enough. And that’s not a bad thing! Before we created our first prototype, we had a 14 page research document that we thought would float us through the design process. On the day of our “big reveal,” our Arduino didn’t work, we forgot the sugar, and it rained on top of our machine. Murphy’s Law - anything that can go wrong will. But that’s ok, because we learned to think quickly on our feet and adapt to change. It felt like we were swimming in debt with no customers, but with a couple of changes in our business model and some expert advice, we were back on our path. You can’t control what’s going to happen, but you can control how you react to it.
Financials, financials, financials. We can’t explain how important this is!! Even investments that you’re making right now (like buying materials, providing a place to build your product) are all things you should include in your financial summary because EVENTUALLY they WILL factor into how much profit you’re making. And money is all investors want to see! If you start off weak, scrapping numbers together at the last minute is HARD (we would know).
You’re only as strong as your weakest link so you’ve got to make sure everybody in your crew is on point.
Surround yourself with people you are just as passionate as you about your project, if not more! Energy is everything. You need people who will encourage you to keep going even when it seems like you can’t avoid failure.
We wish anyone starting their own business plenty of good luck! Feel free to reach out to us with any and all questions. We know how hard it can be starting off, which is why we love this community ChangemakerZ is forming!!!!
Catch Us Making Money Moves
We have big dreams for Spill the Tea. In the upcoming year, we want to take our online shop to the next level by selling at major retailers (grocery stores and cafés), and launching a new line of tapioca products! We’re aiming to get an incredible amount of exposure through marketing and are currently seeking investors.
To learn more about Spill the Tea, visit our website here. You can also follow us on Instagram at @spilltheteanj and read about us in this Wall Street Journal article. Don’t completely understand what we do yet? See our OG pitch video. Sending good vibes your way!