Alumni entrepreneurs 'tea' up small business


Ricardo Viejo (pictured) and friend Alejandro Mayer, founded Velvetea, a small business focused on organic, high quality imported teas. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University.

 

Alejandro Mayer and Ricardo Viejo, both DMSB’16, decided to pursue a classroom assignment with a real-world spin, turning a business model for Senior Lecturer of Finance Eliot Sherman’s cap­ital man­age­ment course into an actual business.

The two D’Amore-McKim students combined their interest in global business and love of tea to found Velvetea, a small business focused on importing high quality, organically-grown green tea from Japan.

It was crazy, because we started this in a busi­ness class, but I wasn’t just doing this for a class; I was doing it in real time,” Viejo said. “We were con­tacting com­pa­nies in China to get our pack­aging done, reaching out to designers who could design our logo and our website, all on this timeline.”

After creating a business plan, the two visited Japan last May, meeting with Kenta Ikeda, a tea expert, who suggested the pair set their business in a small, secluded farm located in the mountains of Kagoshima, Japan. The farm succeeded their expectations during a visit, growing tea in small batches using sustainable, organic practices.

Although their products are currently only available online, the pair hope to grow their presence in the future.

“I always feel excited when we figure out a new way to get our­selves out there, to tell people about this quality tea we have, but starting a busi­ness is a chal­lenge,” said Viejo, laughing. “Every step is a challenge.”

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