Meet the founder of Drink Me Chai
Hi Amanda, please tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a busy working Mum of two a 7 year old girl and 3 year old boy and started Drink Me Chai Latte 11 years ago when spotting a gap in the market for a Chai Latte after travelling to India. I enjoy keeping fit and active and particularly enjoy the sport Badminton.
What makes Drink Me stand out from the crowd?
We produce the best quality range of Chai Latte’s in eye catching packaging. We have the largest range of Chai Lattes flavours in both foodservice and retail pack formats and are the market leaders in this growing sector. All our spices and tea are sourced from India and we manufacture in the UK. We are proud to support Pratham the Indian charity that helps children with reading programmes.
With many small businesses pushing to go worldwide, how did you stock Drink Me in over 20 countries worldwide?
We established our UK market first but then when we got leads from the website and shows such as the IFE we slowly started to build our export business. A recent big win was to stock Drink Me Chai in all the major retailers in Holland and we are very proud of this achievement.
You went from working for the BBC to running your own business, what was the motivation behind such a big move?
Whilst working at the BBC I was an avid tea drinker but at the time all the coffee chains were springing up. I originally had an idea to set up a chain of tea bars to rival them, and did this in a low cost way with Indian style TUK TUK vans that I worked from train stations. On a trip to India I discovered the Chai and after working on my own recipe I decided to test it on my customers on the TUK TUK and Drink Me Spiced Chai Latte was born. Although it seemed like to big step, I felt I had exhausted my time at the BBC and was ready for new challenges.
How was Drink Me funded?
The first TUK TUK vans were funded via Princes Youth Trust and then a small loan from the bank. When I launched the Drink Me brand I had an equity investment from a business angel.
What advice would you share with others wanting to take the leap from full-time employment to running their own business?
As long as the idea is researched (and not just on family and friends) and you have undertaken a trial to check if there is a market then there should be no reason not to take the lap of faith. It would be wise to have contracts in place to get you going before you leave full time employment but don’t spend too much time deliberating or you may miss the opportunity!
Most small businesses get stuck when it comes to marketing, how did you go about getting out there?
It is good to look at other brands that you admire and once that stand out. Ask yourself why they stand out and without directly copying you take elements and apply to your own market message. Social Media is important and there are many courses that can help get you started. My advice would be keep the message simple so that consumers immediately understand what you are offering.
How would you sum up your business if it was a chai latte?
Unique with a spicy kick!
What is the best business decision you’ve ever made?
To take a punt and send a sample to Tesco the largest retailers. With no food or drink experience they took a chance on us and offered us a 250 store listing with no brand or pack design! And all without a Dragon in sight!
What gets your chai flowing when you think of Drink Me in 3 years’ time?
Our aim is to be the market leader in Chai Latte across Europe and also brand extend into other channels. Also though we have been going for over 10 years, we feel we have only just scratched the service with the younger people discovering Drink Me Chai Latte as the “new hot chocolate”.
Head on over to Drink Me Chai to find out more.