A group of final year students from Northumbria University whose startup triumphed in a national competition are hopeing to grow their business into a leading UK brand.
Easy Teasy, which sells loose leaf tea, teapots and strainers, got through local and regional heats in the Young Enterprise Startup programme, before going on to win Best Investment Proposal and Best Trade Stand awards at the national final in Manchester.
Managing director Harry Marshall, a business studies student with experience of running his own companies, also received a commendation for his leadership.
With the enterprise due to become a limited company later this month, he is now committed to serious expansion plans.
“We always wanted to do well with Young Enterprise, but to do as well as we did is really something else,” he said.
“The networking we’ve been able to do throughout has been great and we’ve made some fantastic contacts, so if we want investment at a later stage, we now know who to contact.
“I have run my own business and worked with a lot of businesses over the years, so I know the potential of Easy Teasy. This is a business that is sustainable.”
Easy Teasy is made up of Mr Marshall, Luci Cowie, Tom Webb, Mike Gent, Rosie Sparks and Hallam Collings, all of whom are currently completing their studies at Northumbria University.
The idea for the business - to change the perception that loose leaf tea is messy or inconvenient - came about when the students were undertaking a graduate enterprise module, designed to give them real world experience of running a company.
Focusing on high end products that are easy to use and clean, as well a range of quality teas imported directly from farms in China and India, they soon realised the concept could fill a major gap in the market.
Through Young Enterprise, the students were able to get insurance and trade as they made their way through the programme, the first stage of which involved setting up a trade stand at the Metrocentre.
In the regional finals at Gateshead’s Northern Design Centre, Easy Teasy won Best Trade Stand and Best Overall awards.
Finally, in Manchester, the company was competing against eight others from around UK, giving presentations, offering a business proposal for scrutiny and facing a Dragons’ Den-style pitch competition.
Although Miss Sparks, Mr Collings and Mr Gent will now be leaving to pursue secure graduate jobs, Mr Marshall says the remaining three see great potential for growth.
“It’s a very risk-free business,” he said. “I know it’s going to grow and we’ve had lots of help from the university, who are provided office space in Newcastle for us.
“Within five years time, I’d like to see it operating on a national level, having become a well-known brand throughout the UK.
“At the moment, there isn’t really anything focused solely on quality loose leaf tea and we want to be that company.”