How this 16-year-old student started a tea business and is all set to make Rs 70,000 in a year
At an age when most young girls are deciding their careers, or exploring what the world offers, or plain confused about adolescent changes, this 16-year-old student from American Embassy School in New Delhi has already become an entrepreneur.
Harshita Jain is the founder of Necessiteas, a startup, founded less than a year ago, that specialises in making bubble tea. However, her interest in entrepreneurship did not happen by accident, while her idea for a business certainly did.
Harshita grew up listening to the stories of her grandfather, an entrepreneur himself. Listening to his struggles to raise the empire he has today, inspired her to do something of her own. She says she was also motivated by the large number of people who were creating new commodities and introducing new ideas to the market. In essence, the struggles of the old generations and the innovations of her generation fuelled her passion to build something she could call her own.
Brewing a new business
It all started in Harshita’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy class, when she saw a story of someone drinking bubble tea. Being a bubble tea lover herself, Harshita realised the lack of quality bubble tea in India, and instantly decided to pursue this idea.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) is a groundbreaking class hosted by a number of schools in India that transforms students between the ages of 11 and 18 into real, confident entrepreneurs. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors, and launch and run their own companies and social movements.
Explaining the venture, Harshita says, “We produce high-quality bubble tea in a variety of flavours with tapioca pearls imported directly from Taiwan. Our mission is to introduce the bubble tea culture, which is well-known throughout the world, to India. It’s also my endeavor to encourage other student entrepreneurs to pursue their passion.”
Bubble Tea is a beverage primarily based on the infusion of tea with tapioca pearls. A modern approach has expanded this definition to the infusion of any flavour with tapioca pearls or different types of jellies. In essence, bubble tea could be any drink, but what makes it unique is the “bubbles” or tapioca pearls that one will find at the very bottom of the drink.
Necessiteas is presently produced at Harshita’s house with the support of her family. To begin with, she presented her products at YEA’s Trade Show in Mumbai recently and it was a sell-out, and since then orders have been pouring in.
“Without the support of my parents, the YEA team, and my friends, I would not have thought of expanding the business,” she says. She plans to open a pop-up store in the future where the bubble tea will be made and sold.
Harshita adds, “In times where people are so caught up in their health issues and always trying to look their best, bubble tea offers a way for people to enjoy something simply because it is fun and tasty. After all, we all need a break from our strict diets, and bubble tea is the way to enjoy a drink for its taste while experiencing something new simultaneously. That being said, Necessiteas still offers sugar-free options for all the health-conscious people out there.”
Necessiteas has so far sold over 200 bubble teas, and all initial costs have been covered already. It plans to sell at least another 250 drinks by the end of this year, bringing its revenue to over Rs 70,000. Commendable for a 16-year-old juggling school and entrepreneurship.
Mentorship from the best
The brand has seen positive response from the cosmopolitan markets of Delhi and Mumbai. “Being such a niche business, it was uncertain how consumers would respond to a new drink initially; not only has Necessiteas had successful orders, but they have also been sold out at multiple instances,” she says.
The young entrepreneur has also received mentorship and training from YEA. She has also received feedback from her teachers as well as from eminent businessmen like the founders of PaperBoat, Myntra, and VegNonveg.
One of the biggest challenges faced by Necessiteas was understanding the consumer behaviour in the Indian market. “As bubble tea is a completely new drink for most Indian people, it is hard to convince them to try something new instead of going for the traditional cold coffee or chai. In order to deal with the latter, Necessiteas is currently invested in market research and surveying to better understand the levels of risk aversion its consumers have and how to better accommodate their needs,” she says.
So, how does she juggle entrepreneurship and studies. Harshita believes, “There is always time for things we are passionate about. We know it is hard to manage expectations, studies, and socialising, but eventually it comes down to establishing our priorities. I never saw the business as a chore.”
As for the future, Necessiteas is in the process of looking at multiple ways of scaling its business, which include partnering with home delivery companies and finding a location to set up a pop-up store. While this is a long-term scaling plan, in the short term, it is working towards accepting more pre-orders on a weekly basis.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)