Featured Startup Pitch: Tealet is bringing the specialty tea market online by directly connecting tea drinkers and growers
Founder: Elyse Peterson
Headquarters: Honolulu, Hawaii (temporarily located in Silicon Valley for the 500 Startups program)
Year Founded: 2012
Brief Company Description: Subscription and marketplace that connects tea drinkers with tea growers.
Tealet is a direct from grower ecommerce marketplace and subscription model that allows U.S. tea drinkers to connect with teas from around the world. Growers post their stories and teas while drinkers browse, review and purchase teas. This social ecommerce platform is innovating the way in which growers and drinkers share the tea experience.
We are a diverse team with one common goal: to create a bridge between tea growers and tea drinkers.
I am Elyse Petersen, founder, and my co-founder is Jane Gonsowski. Together we learned about the infinite opportunity for a Hawaii Grown Tea Industry while co-authoring a collaborative research study at the University of Hawaii. After completing this report we looked at a variety of business models that would help develop a healthy industry in Hawaii. Tealet was born when I pitched the idea at Startup Weekend Honolulu on April 28, 2012, and took home second place. This event was a great launching point to put our passion of empowering tea farmers towards a viable business model. Since this event we built a marketplace, launched a subscription service, and have been invited to the 500 Startups accelerator program. The team now includes a developer and new media director.
Tealet will begin to develop a network through social media and word of mouth. This is a social platform that will rely heavily on a strong community of tea enthusiasts. Tealet is able to offer teas at a better price than other ecommerce websites and optimize value for the grower. Customer acquisition will be the focus for the bimonthly curated tea subscription service called Global Tea Taster.
The U.S. tea market is quickly expanding as major retailers such as Starbucks, purchasing Teavana for $620 million, increase their specialty tea offerings. The U.S. retail tea market was recently measured at $27 billion and the specialty tea segment is the second fastest growing at $1.4 billion. This number is expected to grow significantly in the coming years as retailers attempt to optimize the opportunity.
How Tealet Differentiates Itself from the Competition
We have a competitive edge because we are the only online tea retailer selling teas from more than one country direct from the grower. Tealet is also the only retailer with social tools that allows tea drinkers and growers share their tea experiences.
Tealet is a hybrid business model that curates samples of tea for drinkers with the Global Tea Taster subscription service and then allows drinkers to learn more about and purchase their favorite teas in larger quantities in the marketplace. Average margin for both models is 40 percent.
We are currently fundraising an advisory round in preparation to closing a seed round after the completion of the 500 Startups accelerator program. To learn more about the company’s activities and fundraising you can see https://angel.co/tealet.
Tealet – www.tealet.com