Please introduce yourself – What does your start-up do and what is special about your business idea?
Seicha offers a range of sparkling and natural matcha tea drinks. The drink comes in three flavours: lime, grapefruit and yuzu. As far as we know, this is the first ceremonial-grade matcha to be bottled. We partner with a 4th generation family farm in Nishio, Japan allowing us to source only the finest organic matcha – hand-picked from farm to bottle!
How did you come up with the concept?
It grew out of necessity. While we were studying, my brother and I looked into alternative energy sources based on tea. We realised there was a huge gap in the market for a ready-to-drink (RTD) tea that actually contained real tea.
After testing a dozen different alternatives, we liked the effects matcha had and started experimenting with different juices to drink it with. It didn’t take long until we were known around our university as the guys who were always drinking “that special green stuff”.
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome on your start-up journey?
When we launched as one of the first RTD sparkling matcha drinks back in 2015, there was a real risk that matcha wouldn’t take off – fortunately, though, our belief in matcha was vindicated and it is now a growing trend.
Our ceremonial grade powder offers the best value of drinking matcha on the market but it is our bottling technique that really sets us apart. While other companies might overheat their products and lose the healthy nutrients of the tea, we have started to bottle our drinks through a unique cold brew process. Our focus is on creating products that offer a real choice and can provide a healthy alternative for people who want clean energy.
On the other hand, it is hard to balance the growth of the business and investment. We are at a continuous growth, which brings exciting opportunities and challenges with it. We’re not backed by big VCs but that also means we can operate independently. At every stage of the journey we have had to raise cash, which is very time-consuming.
Its about finding a smart balance to make sure we’re doing the best we can in our development.
And where is it going – where do you see the start-up in 5 years?
We are excited to announce that we will launch our third flavor in the beginning of 2018. This flavor is based on a matcha tea infusion, but it also contains a unique Japanese fruit.
Over the next 5 years, our focus will be to strengthen our brand and raise awareness around it. After what has so far been a successful start, we are also looking to diversify our distribution channels into new markets.
What are your expectations from the NX-FOOD program?
We’re really excited to be part of the NX-Food program. It has been a tough task to stand out on the shelves in Retail when competing with other big brands. We believe in the concept, and the start-up shelf is a strong tool to erecting awareness at the POS (point of sales).
We have a clear view of the target, we came to stay. Fingers crossed for a successful program participation.