114
8 min 49 sec

Entrepreneur Reads Tea Leaves to Launch Subscription Hustle

A New York-based consultant brews his need for energy into a tea delivery service that offers customers a chance to discover new tea varieties each month.
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What It's About

A love of tea springs into a subscription service that helps people try new blends without having to commit to a large order.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Research & Business Savvy
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Nick enlisted his sister and some friends to help launch Varieteas, and officially piloted it in October 2016. To get there, he had to map the market, learn the logistics of a subscription box service, and—of course—taste lots and lots of teas.

Start-up costs were low: Nick paid for a hosting website and a web developer, and he pre-sold the first round of boxes to friends and family based on a prototype box he created for $85, in order to get an appetite for his customer base ahead of investing further.

Fun Fact

Nick says one common misconception about tea is that loose-leaf tea is the same as tea bags, whereas, in reality, most tea bags are filled with the dust and leftovers of broken tea leaves. Varieteas tries to stand out by providing high-quality tea. They source tea from a distributor that works directly with farmers overseas, and most flavors are added by their own local master blenders.

Nick’s current go-to teas are Moroccan Mint and Blood Orange.

Notes from Chris

Episode 114
Have you ever wanted to try something new but been discouraged when you realized that you needed to commit to a large amount of product without actually knowing what it's like? If so, you aren't alone because this is the problem that many subscription services are looking to correct.

As a cyber security consultant, 26-year-old Nick Ehret had to consistently work intense, 14-hour-long days. To stay alert, he tried almost everything. He hated the taste of coffee, so he resorted to energy drinks and soda for caffeine, but these caused crashes and headaches. He started looking for a healthy replacement; one that would be low in sugar and easy on the stomach. This is when he discovered the wonderful world of tea. To his surprise, after just a month of drinking tea, he found he was more focused and productive. And with that, he was hooked.

He decided to start a subscription service to curate a personal tea experience for others. The idea was to take the hassle out of sourcing tea and to add diversity, by sending subscribers monthly boxes of three handpicked teas that differ in type, taste and caffeine level. He called his company Varieteas—aptly combining the words variety and tea.

After some research and trial and error, Varieteas was officially launched in September of 2016, and they're already on track to become a major player in the subscription business. Last month, they sent out 237 boxes to subscribers and have been consistently growing at a rate of 48% month over month with margins of about 45%.

While this model can be challenging, Nick says that getting feedback from people he didn’t know was most helpful in propelling his business along. He says it’s impossible to know what people will want while brainstorming at a white board, so pushing the product out was a priority.

After all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single steep, and if at first you don't succeed, try and chai again. There are plenty of side hustle opportunities out there, but be sure to leaf your options open.

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

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Quote of the Day
"It's really hard to ponder on a white board what people will think about your product, so get a sample made and ask people for their feedback."
—Nick Ehret #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau