Every summer, Harshita Jain from Delhi would head to the USA with her family to spend her vacations with her grandparents settled there. Among many other things, she specifically enjoyed the endless cuppas of Bubble Tea or Boba available at many outlets across the country.
Bubble Tea is a popular beverage from Taiwan invented around the 1980s, which went on to earn global fame in the last decade. It is famous for the foamy layer of ‘bubbles’ created by churning beverages like milk tea, chocolate milk or iced latte. The tea also has tapioca beads or ‘pearls’.
Harshita’s search for her favourite drink back home could not find bear fruit as she could not find a place that sold quality Bubble Tea. However, her survey among friends and acquaintances led her to realise that there were many Bubble Tea lovers in India just like herself.
Finally, last year, Harshita decided to launch her own Bubble Tea enterprise all by herself. Just 16, Harshita Jain, who studies in American Embassy School in New Delhi, is now the proud founder of Necessiteas — a destination for quality Bubble Tea in the national capital.
Pitching a Business Idea at 15
Hailing from the family who owns the KLJ Chemicals, Harshita grew up listening to business plans, strategies and finances. Her grandfather, who started the company, is her role model of entrepreneurship.
“Our dinner table conversations would almost always centre around some business scheme or the other. I picked up the penchant for entrepreneurship from my family for sure,” says Harshita, who was born in America but grew up in Delhi.
The idea came to her around a year ago when she was participating in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) at her school. She pitched her idea of Necessiteas to the investor’s panel at YEA in 2019 and earned the first place. In May 2019, she was chosen to represent Delhi at the YEA Global Competition in Rochester, New York, where she also impressed the judges.
For Harshita, Bubble Tea is a necessity in life — a much-needed refreshment during a tiring day. And hence she zeroed upon the quirky name — Necessiteas — introducing a little wordplay in the en,d.
Importing Tapioca Pearls from Taiwan
“I started delivering my Bubble Tea to a few willing customers around the end of 2019. By December 2019, I launched Necessiteas and started selling officially. I have also secured a trademark for my company,” informs Harshita.
Till the imposition of the nationwide lockdown, Harshita had managed to deliver nearly 300 orders of customised Bubble Tea. Selling only on Saturdays, she procured nearly 25-30 orders per week. “Once the Coronavirus situation improves, I am eyeing another 400 orders by the end of the year.” This would amount to a nice Rs 80k profits for the enterprising teen.
Taking time off her studies on Saturdays, Harshita prepares Bubble Tea in five most popular flavours, among which the Original Milk Tea is the bestseller. The Necessiteas Bubble Teas also come in flavours like Dalgona, Cold Coffee, Ice Tea, and Chocolate. Each bottle is priced at Rs 199.
She is working on a few new flavours at the moment. At Necessiteas, you can customise your drinks with your preferred amount of sugar, type of milk etc.
“I prepare the Bubble Tea with precision and care, using high-quality ingredients. The tapioca pearls are directly imported from Taiwan, unlike the local version which often turns chewy and tasteless,” she shares.
She sends out each Bubble Tea in standard-sized, reusable glass bottles and advises customers to consume the drink fresh.
“I source most of my ingredients locally – from the market and flavoured powder suppliers. As for Tapioca pearls, I have a supplier who imports it for me — first to Chennai and then delivered to Delhi. It definitely increases the input costs but it is worth providing better quality,” adds Harshita.
Initially, she started out as a one-woman army but had to seek her parents’ help due to the increasing number of orders. However, from making the Bubble Tea to marketing and logistics, Harshita manages most of the work single-handedly.
Happy Customers Can’t Get Enough of Necessiteas
“Our USP is the luscious taste that comes from the fresh ingredients and top-grade Tapioca pearls,” she asserts. It is taste alone that has earned Harshita a steady customer base in India.
For her classmate Sanaya Varma, Necessiteas Bubble Tea is a must-have beverage on Saturday afternoons. “She has recently started delivering to Gurgaon and I have been ordering every week since then. Being an avid lover of Bubble Tea myself, I feel her product is pretty great! She makes each drink individually at home according to our preferences. The quality and taste, everything is top-notch,” shares Sanaya.
“She works really hard to make each drink perfect,” she adds. Raghav Sahni, a jewellery businessman from South Delhi, is another dedicated customer of Necessiteas.
“I heard about the brand through a friend and placed my order through a call. I have bought from her multiple times and really love that the flavours are genuine and not like those synthetic fruity variants which we get at other places. The bubbles or pearls in her tea deserve a special mention,” says Raghav.
Plans to Open a Pop-up Outlet Soon
At present, Harshita accepts orders through Instagram and WhatsApp accounts of Necessiteas and also through calls. As of now, she sells only on Saturdays but will soon add another weekday to her business itinerary.
Academically, she is currently due to be promoted to 12th Standard and is also preparing for her Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) next year. She plans to pursue an MBA in the USA in the future. However, she is confident to keep her business thriving alongside her studies.
With Necessiteas, Harshita’s main goal this year was to open a pop-up outlet, but the Coronavirus pandemic thwarted her plan. But she is still hopeful to materialise her plan towards the end of this year. “Bubble Tea needs to be consumed fresh and instantly, which is why I think the pop-up store is essential. I want to introduce Bubble Tea as a beverage culture in India and I am sure there will be many like me who will fall in love with it.”
“Passion Cannot be Dictated by Age”
When asked about how it feels to be an entrepreneur at such a young age, Harshita remarks that she believes there are many student entrepreneurs like her around India whose efforts go unnoticed. “People are generally surprised to see me running a business at this age. But I believe it is my passion, and passion cannot be dictated by age. Be it 16 or 60, one must always follow their heart and do what they want to.”
At Harshita’s age, few students can gauge the risks of running a business and become a full-fledged entrepreneur. While balancing her studies, Harshita has aced the entrepreneurship game and emerged a successful young woman.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)