Emily Bater

Full-time teacher and freelance content writer

'We want to be a shining beacon for female ethnic-minority entrepreneurs in the UK'

Posted January 7th, 15:50

4 min read

Long-time friends and entrepreneurs Dr Hua He and Sophia Nadur are on two missions. One is to bring healthy green tea to the UK; the other, to make entrepreneurship more diverse.

Sophia Nadur spent years working in marketing innovation for global food and drinks companies before starting Tg Teas in 2015.

Raised in China before moving to Japan and France, her co-founder Dr He is a qualified doctor, research physician and a mum of two.

Made and bottled in the UK, Tg Teas promotes itself as a healthy alternative to other green teas on the market.

We talk to Sophia about increasing diversity in the UK startup scene and how to launch a new product to market.

How did Tg teas start?

I could see consumer frustration with what was available in the market – mostly highly processed with rubbish nutritional and artificial ingredients.

tg-teas

I launched a drinks startup to drive the development of a new category of drinks. One that’s nutritionally sound, affordable and beneficial.

How did you get the idea for TG – what’s your USP?

Although a nation of black tea drinkers, we’re increasingly reaching for green tea, which is long revered in Asian countries as an ‘elixir of a long life’ because of its health benefits, rich cultural history and diverse flavour profile.

However, there has never been in Britain – before now – green tea drinks that were tasty, low in sugar and calories and with an authentic story.

What challenges did you face when starting out and how did you overcome them?

For our hot green tea range, we went to an organic and ethical tea plantation high up in the mountains of Eastern China to find a green tea that offered a soft and subtle taste, yet was still packed with all the goodness that’s often lost through shipping tea thousands of miles.

tg-teas

For our iced tea range, we wanted to create an all-natural drink using real brewed green tea and special fruit and botanicals. We searched for familiar and unique organically grown fruit but luckily my co-founder is a fluent Mandarin and French speaker, which helped us obtain the best possible ingredients.

We also invested a considerable amount in recipe design and development, to help deliver a great tasting drink that was also low in sugar and calories.

It was important to us that we bottled our drink in Britain, unlike so many iced teas and other new drinks found on shelves today. Our drinks are made in Yaxley in Peterborough. We are looking to produce a new product in Wales, once we secure interest from retailers.

What inspired you to believe you could start your own business?

Jamie Oliver’s relentless passion to help start a ‘healthier food revolution’. I felt that with buckets of passion, knowledge and tenacity we could do something that would help future generations have better choices available when shopping for soft drinks.

Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?

No. I worked for 25 years in the corporate world and thought I would stay there until retirement. I had lots of people urging me to setup my own business, but I lacked confidence and belief in myself.

It may be a female thing but – with the help of wonderful mentors – I have overcome the early doubts.

What have the highs and lows been since you started?

I’m a glass half full person so I remember mostly the highs, like seeing the first products come off the bottling line in Yaxley, reaching a recent crowdfunding target with the help of generous backers and winning a convenience store chain listing.

tg-teas

Do you think there’s enough encouragement of entrepreneurship in the UK?

In one word, no. Far too many companies in the UK that survive the difficult transition from start-up to scale-up do so with the help of rich relatives or industry connections, neither of which are available to the average person.

There are simply not enough ‘rags to riches’ entrepreneurial successes that encourage people to take the plunge into turning a creative idea into a business.

tg-teas

More importantly, there isn’t enough support for entrepreneurs in tangible ways that ensure business success. Government and big business spend far too much money and time developing matched funding programmes, that in the main enrich consultants and themselves without providing meaningful benefit to the entrepreneurial company.

Precious little time is spent on removing the red tape that blocks entrepreneurs from exporting or getting access to public sector contracts that could help SMEs hire more folks. And even less time is spent on encouraging female entrepreneurship, particularly from socially or economically deprived parts of the country.

What does the future hold for Tg?

Tg will become a leading tea brand in the UK and recognised for kick starting a green tea revolution.

We want to be a shining beacon for ethnic minority female entrepreneurs in the UK – particularly important in the face of rising disquiet about the role of immigrants in our society.

What advice do you wish you’d gotten when you started, and what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs now?

Just do it, but ensure you have tested your big idea first, have stashed away about a years’ worth of income and refreshed your LinkedIn network before you turn your back on the big corporate pay cheque.

Everything takes longer than you think to happen. You still have to put food on the table while your startup grows, and you will rediscover the art of dealing with real people who won’t always nod their heads in approval.

Emily Bater

Full-time teacher and freelance content writer


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