“Friends since preschool in Arlington Heights, Dan Klein and Patrick Tannous were taking a semester abroad in different European cities in 2009 and decided to meet up in Prague. At a tiny teahouse, they tried loose-leaf tea infused with fruits and herbs. “Why aren’t more people in the U.S. drinking this kind of tea?” Klein recalls them wondering…” by Cassandra West from Crain’s Chicago Business.


Read Full Article Here: How A Chicago Startup Thinks It Can Beat Teavana And David’s Tea 

Source: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/

“The founders of Tiesta Tea always thought there’s a posh, unapproachable aura around loose leaf tea, but they also contend that the loose leaf format is the best way to sell and prepare tea. They spent their last college year developing a novel and affordable delivery format…” by Adi Menayang from Food Navigator-USA.

Read Full Article Here: Loose Leaf Tea In The Bulk Food Dept? ‘We Want To Bring New Consumers Into The Category,’ says Tiesta Tea 

Source: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/

“Real dreams. Real stories. Real businesses built by real people. It all began with a conversation among friends at a teahouse during a semester in Europe. It could have ended there, like so many college daydreams do, the wistful chatter that populates so much of undergraduate life. But Patrick Tannous and Daniel Klein made their dream come true…” by Mia Taylor from The Simple Dollar.

Read Full Article Here: Here: Small Business Saturday: How Tiesta Tea Brewed Up Its Success 

Source: www.thesimpledollar.com

Getting the word out is a major challenge for companies trying to move beyond their startup phase—whether it’s marketing a product to the masses or selling a service to other businesses.
“How do we get our name out there and promote the service without breaking the bank?” says Jeff Golding, 43, president of WilliamPaid.com, a Chicago company that enables tenants to pay rent automatically. “I mean, we could do a Super Bowl ad and get our name out there. But that’s not really cost-effective for a company our size.”

Mr. Golding says his company, which launched in 2010, has “tens of thousands of customers” across the U.S., but that’s a fraction of the potential market. That’s why Mr. Golding is stepping up marketing.

For Tiesta Tea Co., the trouble was getting its canisters of flavored loose-leaf tea into more grocery stores. “We weren’t getting a lot of local love,” says President Patrick Tannous, 25, who founded the Chicago company in 2010 with CEO Dan Klein, 24.

Tiesta was on the verge of shutting down in late 2011 when a consultant suggested pushing the product in stores beyond Illinois and Wisconsin, where the company had been focusing. So Messrs. Klein and Tannous hit the road.

“We slept on a buddy’s couch in New York and went to every store,” Mr. Tannous says. “People thought we were nuts.” But after visiting about 500 shops in five cities—stretching from New York to Vancouver, British Columbia—they’d signed up 50 outlets. Tiesta’s sales doubled the following month and quadrupled the month after that.
It’s now turning a profit and on pace to bring in $1.5 million in revenue this year, Mr. Klein says. Tiesta is sold in 2,500 shops, including the Mariano’s Fresh Market chain, which has been opening stores in the Chicago area.

Heritage Bicycles, a Chicago bike manufacturer and store that opened in early 2012, has succeeded without much advertising or marketing. When Michael Salvatore and his wife, Melissa, opened the Heritage Bicycles General Store in Lakeview, they expected to sell 10 to 15 bikes in their first year. They ended up selling 100. People as far away as Sweden and Australia have purchased bicycles from their website.

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Tiesta Tea aspires to break the mold set by tradition as it introduces unique packaging to the market with a contemporary eye-catching design and vibrant colors. The names behind the Tiesta Tea brand, Patrick Tannous and Dan Klein want to reach a younger, non-traditional tea-drinking audience. The two knew that the packaging of Tiesta Tea had to command attention and standout on the shelf amongst the sea of teas on the market to gain the attention of their potential buyer. Tiesta Tea’s Creative Director Bobby Moynihan worked closely with Planet Canit, a marketing and solutions company to deliver the edge the Tiesta Tea brand stands for. Virginia Price, CEO and founder of Planet Canit comments on the collaboration, “Our specialty may be decorative tins, but we don’t believe in canned, one-size-fits-all solutions,” Function is equally as important as form to Tiesta Tea. Not only is the package design shelf-popping but also insures freshness and ease-of-use with a metal cover and latch mechanism and gasket lining to underscore freshness. Tiesta Tea consists of five loose-leaf categories that feature their own representative color coded tin including: Energizer, Slenderizer, Relaxer, Immunity and Eternity. A feature that has the potential to appeal to the new tea buyer is a vertical, acrylic side window which offers a “novel way to allow the user to peek at the tea and also suggests timely reorders.” As the award winner in packaging (Best New Tea Package -World Tea Expo 2011) Tiesta Tea aspires to break tradition and stick to their motto, “once you get loose, you’ll never go bagged.”

Source: www.packagedesignmag.com

Tiesta Tea is making tea cool. “This is not your grandmother’s cup of tea,” said Daniel Klein, chief executive officer of Tiesta Tea. Klein and lifetime friend Patrick Tannous, chief operating officer, have created a line of loose-leaf teas that they hope will be accessible to everyone. “Everyone can enjoy tea, whether you’re 10 or 80,” Klein said.

Klein and Tannous met in pre-school in their hometown of Arlington Heights where their interest in tea came at an early age. Tannous came from an Egyptian background where he said tea was an important part of their lifestyle. Klein, on the other hand, has Italian roots and sought out an alternative to the ill effects of all of the coffee his family consumed.

Tiesta Tea’s origins can be traced back to Prague, where Klein and Tannous were studying abroad. Tannous saw tea as “a rip off” and wanted to research what he saw as a large growing market. With a fresh idea and the help of the University of Illinois Launch program, Tiesta Tea was able to get off the ground. The university program gave the entrepreneurs a $10,000 loan to start up, as well as office space in Research Park for the summer and invaluable feedback from alumni.

Klein and Tannous are backed by a workforce of friends who help with the preparation and packaging of orders, as well as a creative director, Bobby Moynihan, a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, that has shaped the image of Tiesta Tea. Moynihan is also trying to juggle being both a student and entrepreneur. “Going to school lays down the basic foundation but actually doing it is where you learn,” Moynihan said.

Working with microbiologists and chemists, Klein and Tannous went through a rigorous taste testing process to finalize a line of 60 flavored teas, each fitting into one of their five categories, each specifically formulated for a different health benefit. The lines include: Energizer, Forever Young, Immunity, Relaxer, and Slenderizer. “We make it simple. We give you a flavor profile and what it does for you,” Tannous said.

According to Klein and Tannous the initial reception to their product has been a success, thanks in part to providing people with a fresh product option. According to Tannous the tea that is packaged is around one week old, whereas tea from a larger tea company, such as Rishi, is around seven weeks old.

“People want a high quality product and they’re willing to pay a premium. This is a generation looking for a product where they can identify its origins,” Klein said. “We’re shocked, the people are shocked.” “My parents don’t believe it,” Tannous said.

The company’s hopes for the future are tentative but they would like to eventually open a chain of retail stores, possibly in the Midwest or in California. “We want to be the leader of the tea industry, specifically flavored and wellness teas,” Klein said.

For now the two remain at work night and day. Klein is in his final semester of a finance and entrepreneurship degree while Tannous has decided to take some time off of his studies at University of Illinois Chicago. “It’s insanity; there’s no other word for it. I get emails and calls in class. The company has to take a priority,” Klein said. “We started a business and we can’t just take a break,” Tannous added.

Despite the amount of time they spend each day on their company, they’ve managed to integrate life and work without many hitches, thanks to their close friendship. “Decisions are a lot easier because we know each other and who knows what better,” Klein said. “We have the same group of friends. If we’re goin’ out, we’re brainstorming,” Tannous added.

Tiesta Tea is available locally at Natural Gourmet, Strawberry Fields, the Walnut Street Tea Company, and at Urbana’s Market at the Square, where Klein and Tannous sample four teas each week. The company also recently made a deal with Oh Olive, a new store in Libertyville, to carry 35 of their 60 varieties.

For more information on Tiesta Tea visit their website: www.tiestatea.com. Orders may also be made by emailing Patrick at patrick@tiestatea.com. “People feel good that the money is being pumped into their town,” Tannous said. “It’s really cool to be able to sell something that will help someone.”

Source: smilepolitely.com

Entry costs in to the world of small business can sometimes be steep, but savvy entrepreneurs know how to take advantage of programs that give them a leg up.

Tiesta Tea principals Dan Klein and Patrick Tannous, who launched Tiesta’s product line in August 2010, managed to do just that to make sure their product, which recently national acclaim as the Best New Product for the 2011 World Tea Expo, got all the testing it needed.

Tannous and Klein took advantage of the University of Illinois’ incubator program for entrepreneurs. To find out more about the duo’s achievements and how other new business owners can take advantage of programs like these, Inc. Well gave Tannous and Klein a call.

How has the award impacted your business?

Dan Klein: I really can’t say enough about that award. We talked to all our buddies in the tea industry and a lot of mentors, and they all said it’s really a golden ticket. The World Tea Expo is almost like the governing body of the tea industry. They’re the only ones who put out the best industry reports. Every major tea company is at their exposition. It’s really a godsend. It’s going to help our sales and marketing.

Even something as simple as running a Groupon. We ran some Groupons in the past, and we didn’t as well as we expected, but sure enough we let them know we won this award and they were instantly interested in running more Groupons.

Your company started entirely through U of I?

Patrick Tannous: We studied abroad together and we came across a traditional Czech tea house in Prague. We noticed that tea was very serious in Europe, more serious and more commonly used than in Europe. So we saw an opportunity.

Once we got back, we were still both in school. We used our teachers and our entrepreneur class and department to the full, maximum capability. We got them to really help us out from everything from lawyers, mentors, business-plan writing, and funding. You name it.

What year were you in school when you came back?

Patrick Tannous: We were both starting our senior years. Dan has graduated with a degree in finance. I am still currently a student. My graduation date is not set in stone yet because of the company. I had to take a semester off.

Do you need to be a student to take advantage of this program?

Patrick Tannous: You don’t have to be a student. One of Dan’s teachers encouraged us to apply for this program called Illinois Launch. It’s an incubator program that was the whole summer down in Champaign. We lived there over summer, and we literally worked on our business all day everyday. They give you some money, they give you some mentors, they give you an office. They give you everything to really launch your business.

We took that and we really ran with it. We were the best company to come of the program, and because [of that] they accepted us into the program a second time. So we got a little more money and got to use their office for a little longer.

Anybody can apply for it. The director is Arama Andrews. She’s one of our mentors and guides. She’s a true leader for us. The other director is a big, big teacher down at U of I. His name is John Clarke. They really just want people who are dedicated, people who really want to succeed. They’ll take your passion, and they’ll help you fuel it. You’ll be ready to go as long as you want it. They’ll help you do it.

What is the application process like?

Dan Klein: It’s actually pretty tough. They put you through a series of questions. I would say it’s probably equivalent to a five-page business plan, asking you your idea, who your competitors are, what your business model is, where you see growth, and how much money you would need to really get it going. We also had to create a five-minute YouTube video. We really only had a couple days to do it. At that point we really weren’t sure if we were going to be running the business so we figured the program would allow us to foster the idea out and see how much merit it had.

What other incubator programs like this could people take advantage of if they can’t go down to U of I?

Dan Klein: There are programs like this across the country. I’m not positive on this but I know U of I does take in some businesses that don’t work out of Champaign. They take people based out of Chicago, because many of these companies are out of Chicago anyway. I remember off the top of my head there were a few people who ran their company out of Chicago and still participated in the program. They just did a little bit of commuting. But programs like this are really what’s fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs.

As far as its funding goes, it’s not like it used to be 10 years where you could go to a bank or a venture capitalist and get money very regularly. Banks are very hesitant to give out money. Programs like this are really the only way to get your idea funded or at least started to see where it can go. At the end of the day, an idea is an idea. The program is best for seeing if your idea has merit. You’re much better off doing months and months of research like we did and not spending a penny, or spending a couple hundred dollars and researching and talking to people — rather than dumping money into production without knowing the market. They also give you some office space.

How does the company today resemble what you initially pitched?

Dan Klein: It doesn’t resemble it at all. Our original idea was to create a tea café, similar to what Argo Tea does here in Chicago. Basically the Starbucks of tea. We realized this wasn’t feasible for a lot of ideas. Even though there’s a growing market, in terms of real estate? If you don’t have a good spot, you’re not going to do much business. To get a good spot costs a lot of money. We estimated to build out a store would cost a couple hundred-thousand. If you’re trying to build a store from scratch, and you don’t have a whole ton of money, you’re giving out at least 50 percent of your company to get going. We didn’t want to do that.

After we talked to people, we realized we could sell to businesses much easier than starting a store. It’s a lot more sustainable as far as growth goes. The risk is much less. We buy as much tea as we sell to our clients. There’s probably at least 150,000 places in the United States that could be potential clients of ours. That appealed to us because it was an easier start-up.

Source: nbcchicago.com

So you used to be a Starbucks junkie but you’ve weaned yourself off…or at least, you’re working on it. Maybe it’s because you hate the post-caf energy crash, or maybe it’s the high calorie, high sugar content that you’re avoiding; either way, Tiesta Tea has arrived to cure your ills.

The brainchild of Finance/Entrepreneurship major Daniel Klein and Communications major Patrick Tannous, Tiesta Tea strives to provide high quality loose-leaf tea to a young, health conscious, globally conscious generation. As part of the Illinois Launch program, the company will be based in Champaign for the summer 2010 season; Tiesta Tea’s office is located in Research Park and the startup is participating weekly in the Urbana Farmer’s Market.

“In spring 2009, Patrick and I spent a semester studying abroad in Milan and we were inspired by the booming tea culture in Eastern Europe and Prague,” Klein said. “We spent our time in Prague in and out of tea houses and we came back inspired by the untapped potential of tea in the US.”

Klein and Tannous met in November in Champaign to do some initial research and realized that the tea market was growing quickly; the pair spent the spring semester researching and planning, and in March of 2010 Tiesta Tea was launched.

The young entrepreneurs attribute much of their startup initiative to a phone conversation with George Jage, president of the World Tea Expo.

“George is my good friend’s cousin, and he encouraged us to start the company,” Klein said. “We took his advice to heart because he is an expert in the tea industry. He believes there is tons of potential in the tea industry, specifically with our young target market.”

Klein and Tannous also received a great deal of help from the Illinois Launch, a prestigious program through the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership designed to launch university startups.

“Without the Illinois Launch program, this business would have been much more difficult to launch, due to lack of funds and mentors,” Klein said. “Outside help is crucial for any student start-up, due to the lack of team experience.”

Currently, it is just the two Illinois students running the company; Klein is the acting Chief Executive Officer and Tannous is the Chief Operating Officer. They have also hired a freelance designer to help with design work.

“I handle all the strategic planning, press, the books and financial decisions,” Klein said, “in addition to making the executive decisions. Patrick handles all the day-to-day operations, maintains the relationships with our suppliers, and has a hand in planning and final decisions.”

The most difficult part of running a business, Klein said, is maintaining focus and actively reaching milestones.

“There is no manual for running a business in a particular sector, so we must use our best judgment when deciding where to move next,” he added. “We have learned that it is important to have a specific focus rather than trying to conquer the world in a day.”

Klein advises up-and-coming entrepreneurs to ensure that they are truly passionate about what product their business is selling or what service it is offering.

“If you are only in it for the money, you will most certainly fail,” he said.

Tiesta Tea’s founders are currently developing its menu, product design, and branding strategy with the hope of launching an E-Commerce website within a month. The company has completed deals with high-end businesses to provide them with Tiesta teas and accessories.

Once those two revenue streams are established, Klein and Tannous plan to open a tea retailer in Chicago that sells merchandise and cups of tea to-go.

To learn more about Tiesta Tea, watch their YouTube channel or visit their website

Source: http://business.illinois.edu/

Since I have started the Chef Dad Omaha Blog I have had the opportunity to be introduced to a lot of unique products and some companies that have inspiring stories. Tiesta Tea is no exception!
Tiesta Tea was founded by a group of college students. The became inspire during a weekend study abroad trip in Spring of 2009 to Prauge. One night when wandering the streets of Prague, they stumbled upon a traditional Czech tea house. They ordered a famous fruit tea called Granny’s Garden and wanted to introduce this type of beverage to America

They bought a few bags to sneak home on the plane. They realized how important coffee and tea shops were to European society. So they said to themselves, why not the United States? Then on March of 2010 Tiesta Tea was born.
“Tiesta Tea is a company sponsored by the University of Illinois. Tiesta Tea provides the highest quality custom-blended, flavored teas in the world, specifically created to cater to a customer’s daily lifestyle needs. Tiesta Tea offers five lines of teas categorized by their effects on the consumer rather than by their color or type. The five effects we focus on are vital to every person’s health and physical well-being: Energizer, Relaxer, Slenderizer , Immunity, and Forever Young. Each line of tea has a wide variety of flavors designed to appeal to every beverage drinker. Tiesta Tea believes that for tea to truly enter the mainstream, it must be simplified and accessible to people of all ages. Tiesta Tea’s goal is to transform tea from an affordable luxury to a daily health necessity”

After reading about the beginnings of Tiesta Tea, I just had to try some. I was really impressed with these young people to not only discover this opportunity, but their drive to pursue it and see it through. When most colleges kids come home from a weekend with only empty pockets and a hang over. These fine young people came home with a dream and the ambition to make it a reality.

Some the flavors I have tried so far are, Lemon Zen, Chunky Watermelon and Fruity Pebbles. The one thing that is constant with all of them is great flavor and absolutely incredible aroma! Now I have had all three flavors hot and I have tried them brewed then poured over ice, because I am huge ice tea guy. Now all you tea purest out there settle down – it’s my tea I can drink they way I like it. Regardless of weather your are a hot or iced tea fan, you can’t go wrong with Tiesta! Great Tea’s, Great Taste, Great Smell and a Great Company!

Source: Chef Dad Omaha