John Paul Lee is the CEO of Tavalon Tea, founded in 2005. He left a career as a management consultant to pursue his dream of entering the world of entrepreneurship---and entering the world of tea. John found a void in the tea market and took upon himself the task of revitalizing the image of tea by making it more accessible to the masses and creating a quality brand. Tavalon Tea products are found today in over 4800 worldwide locations, and they maintain office locations in NYC, NJ, Hong Kong, Seoul, Cairo, Phnom Penh, and Dubai. John has been featured in many publications and is regarded as one of the top entrepreneurs of our time.
- (2:20) Leaving a cushy management to job to “make moves”
- (3:23) John’s AHA moment: Living abroad, looking for a way out, and finding the solution in tea
- (6:05) How the naysayers fueled his passion and dream
- (7:20) How NOT to finance your business—from John’s personal experience
- (9:45) The tipping point for Tavalon: Adjusting and adapting from retail to wholesale and opening the first international office in Seoul
- (13:35) The benefits of partnership, which is as crucial as a marriage
- (16:31) The importance of an operating agreement, with rules, roles, guidelines, and responsibilities
- (17:06) Growth strategies that worked for Tavalon: A tiered approach
- (21:02) The first successful “in,” before the brand
- (22:22) Funding strategies in the beginning for your business
- (25:19) Tavalon’s Advisory Board—full of influential people
- (28:50) John’s story about pricing advice from a marketing guru
- (30:26) How to form an advisory board---it doesn’t hurt to ask!
- (33:14) John’s advice about initial investments for a product-based business: raise capital strategically, look for experienced business partners, make good decisions about your location
- (35:14) John’s advice to fellow transitioners today: “Entrepreneurship is very hard. You have to really understand your product and have a passion for it.”
- Why John followed his dream to make Tavalon the lifestyle brand of tea, like Starbucks is for coffee
- Don’t be afraid to transition from retail to wholesale
- Don’t partner with someone with the same skill set as you
- The best way to build your brand is through associations
Find Tavalon Tea on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!