Startup Seeks More Efficient Tea Distribution


Tealet, a Honolulu-based direct-from-grower startup, has joined the fall class of 500 Startups, a prominent Silicon Valley finance accelerator that provides offices, technical support and hands-on guidance.

Tealet founder Elyse Petersen and the firm’s technical team moved last week to the accelerator’s Mountain View campus to develop a customized technology platform to host the bi-monthly tea subscription service.

“500 Startups utilizes an innovative mix of investment up to $250,000 along with mentors, designers in residence, and use of a creative space for six months in the heart of Silicon Valley,” said Petersen.

Tealet envisions a direct-to-grower marketplace and an interactive community for tea culture, she explains.

“I’ve been following the fast-paced world of Silicon Valley startups and only dreamed about building a startup of their caliber,” said Elyse Petersen. “An invitation to 500 Startup’s accelerator program is validation that our socially-conscious business model can attract big time investors and that scalable businesses can be built in Hawai‘i,” she said (using the historic spelling of the island state’s name).

 “Tealet is the product of collaboration of not just our founding team but also of a supportive and inclusive startup community in Honolulu,” said Petersen. “Other entrepreneurs with ideas that can change the world have the same resources and opportunities; they should connect with the local startup community to be exposed to them,” she said.

Revolutionizing tea distribution

Petersen’s passion for this project began last year when she and co-founder Jane Gonsowski studied the market feasibility of a tea industry in Hawai‘i during their MBA program at the Shidler College of Business. The findings and recommendations of this study have helped bring the tea crop to the forefront of the diversified agriculture discussion in Hawai‘i as farmers continue to seek profitable business opportunities.

Since this work both Petersen and Gonsowski have connected with tea-growing communities in Japan, China, and India.

Tealet is an evolution of their work to find ways to attain higher profits for farmers around the world. The team’s goal is to make the distribution of tea more efficient by leveraging technology; ensuring higher profits for the grower and lower prices for the drinker. Introducing teas from around the world to the U.S. market is their way to prepare for an inevitably increasing demand of Hawai‘i Grown Tea.

Tealet was founded in April 2012.

Source: Tealet, Honolulu Startup Community