Today we’re excited to chat with Justen Teguh, the founder of Amico Tea! His journey bootstrapping and starting a company from scratch is really inspiring and we hope you’ll learn something from it too!
Our business (amicotea.com) is very new – in fact, we didn’t start working on it until December of 2019! Since then, we’ve been able to get initial pre-orders, our first inventory order, our website launched, and a Facebook group put together consisting of around 90 members.
Getting Early Customers
Our first customers came from family and friends who have been familiar with the product (we’ve been sharing with them for the past few years). Because they know that the tea we source is high quality and not typically accessible in American grocery stores or online, many of them were excited to have the opportunity to get additional tea for themselves in addition to supporting us.
Growing The Company In The Early Days
We’ve grown our customer base through the use of giveaways. Because this is a bootstrapped business, we don’t have a ton of funding for advertising yet, but since we already have inventory in, we’re able to giveaway several units to grow our Facebook community and email list in return for the chance to win free tea. For the most part, people have been learning of this opportunity through friends as well as organic methods like directly reaching out to potential tea customers on Instagram.
Standing Out In The Tea Market
I think that there is currently two big problems within this niche to be solved. First, high-quality tea is rare and hard to find in most grocery stores. That in and of itself turns the high-quality tea we sell into a solution for customers looking for something better than what they can find. In the U.S., there are big industries for craft “x”. For example, the rise of craft beer has led to what many consider to be a much higher standard for what good beer is. But there are none in the tea category. That’s where we come in. Second, Asian tea in the U.S. has a branding problem. Most people experience Asian tea in traditional Asian restaurants but don’t consider drinking it outside of that setting. We believe that Asian tea is good for more than being just a compliment to the food you eat but should be a part of your greater lifestyle just as other consumables are such as beer. Tea can be consumed with food, yes, but also act as a coffee alternative for when you’re working, or be used to relax after exercising.
Do Less Rather Than More – FOCUS!
Sometimes, you want to do less rather than more. I think this is a big one. When I first started working on businesses, I always tried to do everything all at once. Unfortunately, that leads to burn out and lower overall quality. Instead, it’s better to act fast to figure out where you should be investing your time to achieve the greatest return, and do more of that. Using this business as an example, we could try to do an endless number of things such as building out our Youtube channel, running a podcast, building content for TikTok, expanding to sell tea-ware in addition to tea, and many more things, but that wouldn’t help us much. That’s why we ultimately decided to stick with Facebook groups (which Facebook is currently emphasizing) and Instagram. The reasoning behind that is due to our situation where we’re bootstrapping the business – we need to focus on higher return organic efforts, and Facebook groups are great for that. Instagram, on the other hand, is key for branding consumable products. And as we build up cashflow, we’ll be able to advertise to pre-existing customers already living on these two platforms with Facebook ads allowing for smooth scaling.
Productivity Hacks In A Startup
At the end of the day, writing a list of priorities for the next day. That’s it. That allows my mind to rest when it needs to rest, and when I come back the next day, I can easily knock out what’s important. And if anything is left unfinished for the day, I can just move that to the next day. I typically use a Google sheet for this with two columns: date and action items.
Connect With Justen!
If anyone is interested in learning more about my motivation in starting this type of business, I’ve written up a short story about how things came to be here: https://amicotea.com/blogs/blog/going-jitter-free-how-premium-tea-has-improved-my-life. And if you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of premium single origin tea, join our community of tea friends: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418663652420792/. Also, always open to connecting with others, simply send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
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