Alejandro Mayer and Ricardo Viejo, both DMSB’16, decided to pursue a classroom assignment with a real-world spin, turning a business model for Senior Lecturer of Finance Eliot Sherman’s capital management course into an actual business.
The two D’Amore-McKim students combined their interest in global business and love of tea to found Velvetea, a small business focused on importing high quality, organically-grown green tea from Japan.
It was crazy, because we started this in a business class, but I wasn’t just doing this for a class; I was doing it in real time,” Viejo said. “We were contacting companies in China to get our packaging done, reaching out to designers who could design our logo and our website, all on this timeline.”
After creating a business plan, the two visited Japan last May, meeting with Kenta Ikeda, a tea expert, who suggested the pair set their business in a small, secluded farm located in the mountains of Kagoshima, Japan. The farm succeeded their expectations during a visit, growing tea in small batches using sustainable, organic practices.
Although their products are currently only available online, the pair hope to grow their presence in the future.
“I always feel excited when we figure out a new way to get ourselves out there, to tell people about this quality tea we have, but starting a business is a challenge,” said Viejo, laughing. “Every step is a challenge.”