Tell us about what inspired you to launch Teasenz?
I've been drinking tea since a teenager. My dad is a pu erh tea collector, which is why I got in touch with tea at an early age. Pu erh wasn't my thing at that time, but I loved the green tea and black tea that my dad made for me.
I love loose tea for it's simplicity. However, when I moved to China in 2011, I discovered there's a whole story behind the leaf. During my visit to the West Lake tea region in Hangzhou as well as Wuyishan tea region in Fujian province, I learned more about the farmers behind the tea. They told me their stories about their passion for tea, how they produce it, and how they worry about the next generation who isn't to fond to live their lives as a farmer.
I find real tea and the stories behind it so fascinating that I felt the urge to let the world know. That's why I decided to start Teasenz in 2012.
How long have you been in that role?
I've been running Teasenz since 2012. My role includes hiring the right people who love tea like I do, no matter what role they perform within the company. Since I have colleagues who take care of the daily operations, my biggest task within the company is more about managing and improving operations, with the biggest focus on quality management and supply chain improvement. That's where I see the added value of Teasenz. Our customers aren't the type of tea drinkers who care about the health benefits of tea so much like others do. But what they do find important is that the tea is safe, tasty and the most important of all: 'authentic'.
How do you balance a startup with your personal life?
I'm a husband and father, but I don't think the startup life is affecting my family life that much. Yes, I'm definitely working more hours than when I had a regular job, but at the same time I enjoy the benefit of flexibly planning my time. It's easier to take a few hours off during the week days and compensate those in the weekends. I allow my employees to have those benefits as well and this works for them. Many of us love it, because they can avoid the rush hours in traffic, so they come in and leave with energy.
You play an integral role in your startup. Can you please tell us more about what the startup does? How does it work? Can anyone join?
Teasenz is a place for everyone who want to buy real authentic Chinese tea, direct from the source. We see ourselves mainly as a 'supply chain company' because that's where the value added is. We ask ourselves these questions everyday:
- How can we find reliable suppliers?
- How can improve the quality of our tea?
- How do we keep them fresh as possible?
- How can we ship them as fast as possible to our customers worldwide?
So as you can see we really focus on the product. In terms of marketing, branding and creating noise online, we can definitely do better. And we'll look for the right people to join in the future to carry these tasks.
Startup life isn't for everyone. When you join a startup, the founder probably sees that you've a certain skill or certain knowledge that can carry the startup forward. But in reality you will find out that your responsibilities go further. You've to be also an all-round problem solver and help others out. Such responsibilities aren't for everyone. Some people will be truly excited while others just can't be bothered and prefer a more specific scope.
What is the most challenging part about what you do? How do you overcome that challenge?
I still think that finding the right people is the most challenging task for me. Or perhaps for every startup. It's difficult, because I maintain the requirement that one should have a certain level of passion for tea. So whether I'm looking for a programmer or marketing professional, the amount of choice is significantly reduced by that first requirement.
To learn more about Sam's company, visit Teasenz.com.
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