Liu Jie, a young man from Chengdu China, registered a company in the United States and developed a tea mobile application (app), MyTeaPal. During his study in the United States, he began to organize activities to drink Chinese tea in the campus community to promote Chinese tea culture. Before and after graduation, he decided to start his own business independently, continue to develop his beloved tea business, combine with his computer major, design and program himself, and launch a multi-functional tea app, set up online tea community and tea club. In the future, he may build his own tea brand and become an American brand specializing in promoting Chinese tea.
In 2017, Liu Jie, who had just arrived at Duke University to study as an undergraduate, began to hold Chinese tea drinking activities in the campus community. The scale gradually expanded, at most, there were a dozen team members and more than 1500 teachers and students registered to participate in the activities. After two or three years of college life, Liu Jie has broadened his vision, improved his management and organizational capabilities, and gradually formed the idea of entrepreneurship. After contacting some online tea communities and online procurement, he began to plan for future development, which can not only give full play to his computer major, but also make use of his accumulated tea experience. After taking part in the science and technology project of the university and the internship work in Silicon Valley Technology Company, he became more motivated to start his own business and began to conceive of developing the tea app.
Unlike other tea apps available in the mobile app market, MyTeaPal not only has a timer, but also has the function of recording tea tasting logs, as well as a supporting online tea community and a membership based online club. In the mobile app field, beer, wine and other drinks have developed a number of apps with good user experience. Tea is considered as a healthy drink, there are not many tea apps, and there is still much room for development. However, Liu Jie believes that although tea is the most consumed drink in the world, it is different from other drinks such as wine and coffee, and people’s demand for tea apps is relatively small, at least it will not become mainstream in the short term. The development of tea app cannot be capitalized quickly, so he doesn’t consider taking the financing route, and also thinks it will be difficult to go. At this stage, MyTeaPal is at the top of the tea app download rankings, with more than 20000 downloads and nearly 15000 registered users. On the basis of big data and user experience, Liu Jie is a person with multiple roles, constantly adjusting the company’s development direction, while taking into account technological innovation, marketing and other work.
The membership based online tea club is now the main source of income for Liu Jie, supporting the stable operation of the company. Customers who choose to order different member packages and pay a monthly fee to become a member can receive tea samples with different themes every month. Members come from more than 30 countries, 60% of which are located in the United States. Club members and online community members generally mentioned that they could not find tea friends among their offline relatives and friends and surrounding residents, so a fixed online tea community was very needed to discuss and share tea. In the second half of 2022, Liu Jie has returned to China and started his own tea journey, visiting tea gardens and experiencing tea production. At present, he has traveled to 11 provinces. Through text and video, he has continuously shared Chinese tea culture with members online.
I have noticed that developers who are similar to tea mobile applications and online tea business platforms are more likely to provide services for overseas tea brand merchants than to interact with Chinese tea brands. Although Chinese tea merchants try cross-border e-commerce, Liu Jie believes that they are often unable to resonate with foreign customers due to language barriers and non localized operations. As an overseas entrepreneur, Liu Jie has natural advantages and enthusiasm for tea. In the future, he may want to build his own brand and become an American brand specializing in promoting Chinese tea. I think that Chinese tea enterprises can try more possibilities, make full use of these international professional platforms for tea, introduce and publicize their own brand products, accumulate trust, and establish the international image of Chinese brands. China has a long tea history and culture, and the world’s leading tea related technology, machinery, planting, production and processing industries. On the basis of these firm foundations, Chinese tea brands need to go abroad to obtain economic benefits, but also a good opportunity to promote Chinese tea culture.
Related article has been published in Wenzhuo‘s column Tea Perspectives of January 2023 <Tea Times 茶博览> monthly tea magazine in Chinese, 观茶者专栏-“开发MyTeaPal的成都小伙在美国推广中国茶”.