Iqbal meets Matthew Slight of LoveTea, a gourmet Tea subscription service. Matthew describes the evolution and execution of the concept.Transcript: Matthew Slight of Love Tea: Part 1)
IQBAL: Welcome back to another edition of Digital insight.
With me I’ve got Matthew who’s done a couple of cool startups.
One’s called EatSocial which you may have heard about.
And the other one which he is now working on is called Love Tea.Matthew give me an elevator pitch on LoveTea.MATTHEW: Ok, so LoveTea we deliver gourmet teas monthly to your door. You can choose the amount of teas monthly you want to receive. Each month you can choose different type of teas.So it can be black tea one month. Green tea next and you can choose to exclude any types of tea you want.IQBAL: So if I’m the type of Typhoo teabag drinker I should really be buying tea from you guys.
MATTHEW: We’re pitching LoveTea at people who want to try something a little bit different. Anyone can go out and buy tea. You can buy a Typoo teabag or PGTips but generally those type of tea are one type of tea. They are basically English Breakfast Tea.
There’s a whole wealth of other teas out there and that’s what we’re trying to present to people. That different teas can taste differently. Just like people like to taste different wines, the same is true for tea.
So there’s a different tea for everyone. It’s about tea exploration.
IQBAL: It’s subscription. So how much does it cost?
MATTHEW: So the entry level of our mini package is 125 grams of loose tea is £5.50 per month. Our classic subscription which is the most popular one is 250 grams, and that is £9.00 a month. and then we have a household package which is 500 grams and that is £17.00.
IQBAL: Ok, that’s pretty cool. So Matthew the idea behind this is we want to take some of your learnings and share it with a wider audience. If you’ve got anything to get off your chest you can have a bit of a rant and a rave. And spit it out to get it out of your system. (Not spit it literally).
How long did it take you to build LoveTea?
MATTHEW: The LoveTea website in itself, we threw it together in a weekend.
IQBAL: So LoveTea.com right?
MATTHEW: LoveTea.co We don’t have the dot com and the dot uk, and we’re thinking potentially we might have to change to LoveTeaCompany.com or something along those lines. At the moment it’s LoveTea.co
IQBAL: So you built the product the website, the subscription, everything like that in a weekend?
MATTHEW: That’s correct. The design is actually a WordPress theme that I bought. It’s a very simple WordPress website. People are asking me why I didn’t build it in PHP or Rails. Quite frankly I can programme, but I’m not a super programmer.
I’ve sat down to try to build products in PHP in the past and I open up the manual for Zend and I’m just like (confused face).
So what we want to do is really with this is we just prove the market. To get a website up that worked and fulfilled all the needs of our customers. That’s why we chose a WordPress engine.
IQBAL: So you told me earlier it was your wife’s idea. How did that come about?
MATTHEW: That’s correct. So I’ve been spending the last year in the startup sphere on a different project. A project called EatSocial which is effectively management software for setting up social dinner events in restaurants. And I’ve been spending a lot of time and effort and the results have been mixed.
We brought a lot of tea back with us. I had heard of some other subscription businesses. It kind of made. There’s Dollar Shave Club. There’s a similar company to LoveTea that is a subscription based service for gourmet coffees called Kopi and I saw the potential of the subscription based model.
It’s very conducive to allow you to discover a product. You can sign up to a package and you know exactly how much you can spend a month and you can budget for it. Each month you’re getting something a little bit different.
IQBAL: So in short your wife said ‘stop wasting your time and build this for me’?
MATTHEW: Not in a sense but yeah, in a blunt way.
IQBAL: Remember she’s going to watch this. We’ll send her a special copy. So you built the MVP. So you’re an advocate of the Lean Startup, Get it Out There, see what
MATTHEW: Definitely, the whole purpose of LoveTea is to start getting feedback from our customers. The more customers we have then, the more we can iterate on that. The more we can learn from that.
If you spend a lot of time in a closed room, building a product without ever going out and speaking with customers, you run the risk, you know its Eric Reis’s 101, of building a product that nobody wants.
IQBAL: So you mentioned WordPress, the entire site is built upon
MATTHEW: No there’s some customisations that I’ve added on in PHP that handle the subscription side. We are currently building in, I say we, I mean me, I’m currently building an area for customers to build there own subscriptions. That will be custom. I can’t imagine we will be using if we get enough customers, that we’ll continue to this WordPress engine much more.
IQBAL: You mentioned customers several times. Can you tell us how you went about getting your first customer or your first 10 customers.
MATTHEW: How to get your first 10 customers?
IQBAL: Which aren’t your friends and family.
MATTHEW: ah, ok I was going say the easiest way to get a busines like this is to tap into friends and family. They really are the best source of getting customers. They don’t really have to be your immeadiate friends and family.
IQBAL: Let’s assume they aren’t friends or family
MATTHEW: well I would say it depends on the business you are providing. One of the good stories to read up here is the story of how Nike was formed. Look at Nike. Everyone thinks of them as a huge multi national company that sells every piece of sports equipment you can imagine.
But Nike actually started off producing soles for long distance trainers. That’s the one product they provided and their business was built up out of the back of a car effectively. Going out to track days, going out opening up the boot of their car, saying “we’ve made these long distance running shoes. What do you guys think?”
They maybe gave out some freebies, you know they gave out some trainers to long distance runners. And those long distance runners loved the trainers.
And if you can find a market that loves your product then they are going to start talking to people.