Start-up Teamwork Tea: Participation in Fair Trade Tea

With a background in food and websites and a desire to contribute to a better world, founder Clarty Schroeder found her company idea on a farm in Sri Lanka. Six questions for the founder of Teamwork Tea.

Teamwork Tea sells tea subscriptions online?

Shout! The company and brand have been around for 4 years now. We started this year with a subscription model. The tea we sell is organic and fair trade tea and comes from Sri Lanka. 4 years ago I had a hip idea that I wanted to make the world a better place.

At the time I was a food blogger and running a site with recipes. So I have my roots in healthy food. With this background I wanted to create something that would make the world a better place. Preferably something from a third world country that I like fair deal can buy. I actually started searching for “import from third world country” on Google. A year followed by many cups of coffee and a lot of searching. Suddenly I was on a farm in Sri Lanka. I wanted to meet people myself. The farm was able to show that it truly operates organically and with fair trade. They choose everything by hand. The tea leaf picking machine is damaged. This also affects the taste. Then you have to add the flavors again to make it taste good.

“In Sri Lanka, tea leaf picking is a typical task for women. The fair trade premium we pay with TEAmwork tea on our tea goes to a separate fund. Tea pickers can decide for themselves how to spend this extra income. This fund is run as a cooperative, and therefore not owner-managed. The farm – he has nothing to say about it. So far, the money has been spent on a co-op, among other things Health Insurance, Children’s Education Fund and Community Hall. In Sri Lanka, this is where life events such as marriages happen, and this is a big expense. With funding from the fund, they built their own hall that they could all use. Once I was standing on this farm, and I met our tea pickers and immediately decided: Damn, I’m going to do this. I have to import this tea, it will be tea tea.

Women have a poor position in a third world country like Sri Lanka, so we are happy to support the empowerment of our university students. From TEAmwork Tea, we also support a foundation committed to Sri Lankan women and girls who are victims of human trafficking, sexual violence and exploitation – something that unfortunately happens a lot in Sri Lanka. Then these girls and women are rejected by everything and everyone. The NONA Foundation helps them build a decent life after all (through shelter and microcredit, among other things). It fits so well with our particular mission that TEAmwork Tea is happy to contribute to this. “

How did you find the subscription form?

“First I did it all myself. A little food distribution, a little organic supermarket. I wanted to turn it from a hobby into a real business. Really took it to the next stage. And so I made a business plan and discussed it with several people. This is where it came up.” My first investor, who is also a coach in the company.I went with him to look at opportunities.

I already had an existing subscription form on my website. Because of Corona, all food industries have closed and this is what I grew out of. It was just a small part. Customer research into Growth Opportunities showed that customers were open to signing up. As a company, we think the subscription proposal is strong because it allows us to keep the production chain short. We totally turned the company around. Now it is just an online subscription for consumers. What Nespresso and Coffee Boys do for coffee, we do for sustainable tea.”

Where are you now?

“Online marketing is very important. Fortunately, Sebastian from our team is an expert in this area (especially with regards to subscriptions); very useful for a founder. CPA is groundbreaking and we are now learning how to reduce it as much as possible. So we are in the middle of the learning phase. We are already in good shape, but we can improve further so that we can use the marketing money from the first investment round as efficiently as possible. I think it’s great to now have a team with Jeroen for site technical skills, Sebastiaan for email marketing and Bas as coach Business. †

Are you looking for financing?

“We have three rounds planned over the next two years, but that has not been decided yet. The round is now for an investor/owner with a convertible loan of €60,000. This will close in the fourth quarter of 2022. This is particularly interesting for those who dare On the intervention before we fully improve and retain the CAC, before we go into the next phase. The next round (Q1 2023) is more focused on growth. It will be €250,000 to be the largest tea subscription provider in the Netherlands. This is still possible with Relatively small investment. After about a year, we want to raise 1 million euros to be able to move to other countries. We are building towards that seed round.”

Besides capital, what knowledge would be a good idea to add from an informal investor?

“Knowing that we as a team don’t yet know we’re lacking! This could be in the area of ​​scaling e-commerce, but also, for example, in the area of ​​scaling up a fair and circular supply chain, like the plastic-free tea bags that can be collected in GFT. You learn from mistakes, but all the mistakes a casual investor can protect us from is a reward.”

What question or advice from an investor really made you think?

“This was a question from Bass, my current business coach. Do you fill in what your customers want or did you ask them? Your customers and non-customers. This might sound like a buyer, but I haven’t done that in 3.5 years. I sold anyway. But it turns out you don’t really know.” What your customers want unless you ask them I think is important at every stage of your business I still do it now If someone quits we can see why, but it’s better to ask.

This morning I called to cancel. Turns out it was hard to find the pause button. He’s had enough tea for the month and doesn’t seem to want to cancel at all. I think you should ask your customers questions until the end of time. †

* Share Fundsup Every Thursday we alternately highlight promising startups and early stage investors. Here you will find more information about Tea teamwork for investors.

About the author: Argin Striker He is the founder and chief operating officer of Fundsup

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