Most people drink tea then follow it with something stronger. But what if the tea WAS the something stronger? Meet NOVELTEA – Vincent Efferoth tells us more.
What did you do before you started this business?
Right after high school, Lukas and I, started an ‘integrated degree program’, which combined an apprenticeship in industrial management and a part-time B.A. in ‘International Management’. Since then Lukas has gained over four years of work experience in different positions and departments within the retail and textile industry. On the other hand, I have worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 3.5 years before I moved into management consultancy for 1.5 years.
Then Lukas and I moved from Cologne, Germany to Newcastle upon Tyne, England in September 2015. We first met at St. James’s Park, well-known Newcastle United football stadium. Ever since, we see Newcastle as our second home, calling ourselves ‘Geordies by choice’.
What inspired you to start up?
Living in the UK, in particular in Newcastle, allowed us to experience the British fascination for craft beers and spirits as well as the deeply rooted tea traditions. Especially ‘British Afternoon Tea’ was a completely new experience for us, which seems to be a significant part of English culture and society. Nowadays, alcohol in form of Champagne and Prosecco found its way in this tradition. We were surprised that no one has combined the two Brits’ favourite drinks: alcohol and tea.
Tell us about your business in 100 words
Lukas and I, both co-founders and directors of Tea-Venture Limited, have introduced NOVELTEA in April 2017 at Fenwick in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (UK).
NOVELTEA (abv. 11%) brings home the exciting flavours of the world, bringing people together by drawing cultural bridges around the concept of tea and spirits. Inspired by tea stories from around the world and named after eccentric tea tales, NOVELTEA launches with two distinct flavours: ‘The Tale of Earl Grey’ and ‘The Tale of Tangier’.
The Tale of Tangier is an infusion of Moroccan green mint tea with white rum to deliver hints of exotic fruit and floral citrus notes, whilst The Tale of Earl Grey infuses Earl Grey tea with British gin and hand-selected botanicals to deliver a distinctively smooth and rich taste. The alcoholic tea experience is a result of the strong legacy of tea cultures.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
We are creating alcoholic tea blends. Each blend is special in its flavours and composition, which aim to represent countries´ specific tea tradition and heritage.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
The Newcastle University’s ‘Foundership’ programme enabled us to pursue our product idea. Their ‘Rise Up’ business advisors and entrepreneurial guidance was invaluable. We experienced that there are a number of organisations offering various support and advice. However, you need to reach out to them: ‘Shy bairns get nowt’ ;-). So, we work together with different organisations, e.g. The North East Chamber of Commerce, RTC North, NBSL, the InCredAbles, etc.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
Indeed finance is a crucial factor! The ‘Rise Up Foundership Program’ awarded us with a grant, which allowed us to conduct comprehensive market research and product development (focus groups, sampling, etc.). In order to produce, launch and to initially promote it, we successfully applied to the Virign Start-up loan. This enabled us to prove the concept and to build already a great customer base, including Harrods, Fenwick stores and Whiskey Exchange.
Now, we are at a stage that requires growth capital in order to scale up our business. Therefore, we are currently getting ready for further fundraising. This will either happen trough crowd funding or through private investors. We will keep you posted ;)
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
It is very difficult to state our biggest achievement or milestone as NOVELTEA is developing quickly. However, the product launch in Fenwick Newcastle was definitely one great achievement. We are also very proud that NOVELTEA is listed in Harrods!
How do you differentiate your business from others?
NOVELTEA is a premium alcoholic beverage, which differentiates from traditional spirits by a sophisticated and distinctive tea taste achieved by unique cold-brewing, infusion and blending processes. It is essential for us that all our ‘Tales’ flavour profiles focus on the tea complemented by the matching spirit.
It aims to disrupt the alcoholic beverage industry by introducing a distinctive product-portfolio around the concept of tea – the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Being our own boss definitely gives us more freedom, however, this also requires highest dedication and willingness to always go the ‘extra mile’ for the venture. Especially in the beginning, you cannot leave things by chance otherwise nothing is going to happen.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
In five years, NOVELTEA should be a well-established premium alcoholic tea blend within the UK, but also already established in some international key markets. Furthermore, we should have launched a second alcoholic tea brand. Beyond that we see further great business opportunities around NOVELTEA. However, we want to implement all plans properly and thus, we are doing it ‘step-by-step’.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Test every assumption you have when it comes to your business. What I mean is, if you believe that your product is really great, go out there and prove it as quickly as you can. Knock on every door, in every industry but be careful how much information you share. Going out and talking to people is inspiring and gives you the impulse to think differently and achieve more. It is your business at the end of the day, so dedicate the time to make it work!