Turning 50 and launching a start-up: what’s age got to do with it?

tg-green-teas, start-up

Raised in China before moving for further studies and work to Japan and France, Dr Hua He is a qualified medical doctor, a research physician and a mum of two. Sophia Nadur previously held a number of marketing and innovation positions at global food and drinks companies. She is also a qualified lawyer and volunteer magistrate.

Best friends, He and Nadur are also the founders of Tg Green Teas, a hot and chilled range of healthy, award-winning drinks.

Speaking about her decision to create the brand, Nadur said, “I decided to leave the corporate world as I became more and more frustrated with the slow pace of change for the better. I could see the trend starting for folks craving healthier drinks and also wanting to cut down on sugar consumption, but I was frustrated to see so few drinks on the shelf that were good and, more importantly, were good for health and wellbeing, too. Hua and I had a shared passion to do something about it, so we did.”

But what also connects Hua and Sophia is their age. Hua is over 50 while Sophia turns 50 next year. What possessed them to launch and run a start-up at this stage of their lives?

It’s a fact that more and more over 50s are launching start-ups compared with younger generations – but not necessarily in the food and drink sector

Kauffman Foundation research suggests that the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America has shifted to the 55-64 age group, with people over 55 almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between 20 and 34.

UK data is harder to find, but a Sunday Express article in March 2015 (“Over 50s entrepreneurial boom: ‘Nifty fifties’ turning their skills into businesses”) stated that 14,000 older people had set up their own businesses in the prior 4 years – triple the number started by those aged 18-24.

Nadur says, “I dread being called a ‘nifty fifty.”

“But the point is that clearly Hua and I are not alone which is encouraging. I wonder though how many of us launched a food and drink start-up as I don’t see many of us at events up and down the country!”

hua-and-sophia-in-the-tea-plantation-in-chinaAlice in the Looking Glass driving shelf listings?

The rate of new food and drink products being launched in the UK means that very few ever end up in major food stores. The ones that do end up on shelf are typically premium priced and linked to advice given by certain lifestyle “gurus” which has less to do with sound dietary and nutritional science but more to do with selling recipe books and diet plans.

Nadur adds, “It is no coincidence that the incidence of orthorexia (a debilitating eating disorder) among millennials and Gen Zs has increased in recent years.”

Retail store buyers are no doubt under pressure to stock trendy products carrying “gluten-free” and “no added sugar” labels since faddish food and drink does sell – particularly to younger folk. But they too are starting to realise that healthy lifestyles should reflect more balanced food and drink choices.

“Hua and I appreciate it’s a pain for retailers to have to continually recalibrate their shelves to anticipate consumer needs but we look forward to seeing a more balanced offering on shelf that includes new tasty and healthier drinks using sustainable and familiar ingredients but without too many (misleading) labels.”

Can we even be creative at 50?

Famed psychologist Erik Erikson says that each of us passes through eight stages of development from infancy to “old age”. He says the seventh developmental stage happens between the ages 40 and 64 which is strongly centred around productivity and creativity, and a desire to do something to “make my life really count”. Securing a patent, launching a new-to-the-world brand concept, and delivering disruptive NPD for other companies have all happened after Sophia turned 40. “Maybe there is something in Erik Erikson’s theory of ‘accelerating creativity’ in our middle years which researchers will validate someday.”

What’s age got to do with it?

Entrepreneurs pour their heart, soul, time and resources into their businesses. Does age matter for entrepreneurial success? “No, but experience does and that comes with age.”

Like with any successful business venture, it takes a great deal of luck and timing. Success in the food & drink industry may not in reality correlate with how many hours you invest in the business now or how passionate you are. It requires you to be smart in how you go after opportunities – and that’s where age-related experience helps! “For me, it’s meant taking advice and guidance from more experienced entrepreneurs, many of whom are under 35. I don’t honestly care how old they are but how much experience they have in areas where I do not know enough in order to help my start-up be successful.

We have invested our own savings into this venture and still own it outright, so we have a huge vested interest in realising our vision. It is painful, financially, for us to “play the long game”, but we know what we’re offering is what folks really want. Maybe age does bring wisdom or patience but maybe it’s just because what we’re doing is not just for us, but for future generations.”

About Tg Green Teas

A hot and chilled range of refreshingly delicious and healthy, premium tea infusions, founded by Dr Hua He and Sophia Nadur. Dr He was raised in China and lived/worked in Japan and France before moving to the UK 10 years ago. She is a qualified medical doctor and research physician. “When I was growing up in Shanghai, health & wellness knowledge of green tea and other fruit & botanicals were a part of everyday life – as it has been in China for over 4,000 years.” Sophia Nadur grew up in the Caribbean and moved to London in 2001. Sophia studied at McGill University, Warwick University as well as the University of London. She held a number of marketing & innovation positions in global food & drinks companies, including Coca-Cola, Mars, and Unilever. “I decided to leave the corporate world as I became more and more frustrated with the slow pace of change for the better. I give back to my local community through service as a magistrate and being a healthier food & drink advocate.”

“Tesco Backit” – a great opportunity to build brand awareness and prepare Tg for the “big stage”

Tg Green Teas was invited by Tesco onto a new specialist food and drink crowdfunding platform, “BackIt”, which also helps customers discover great new products from the best small food and drink businesses in the UK. Sophia says, “Tesco approached us about their BackIt platform as they appreciate the exciting potential for our brand. We will be in various Tesco stores in October offering samples to generate more awareness and encourage people to support our campaign on the BackIt platform.”

The drinks start-up brand is looking to raise at least £10,000 before 31 October in order to help support some of their scaling-up activities in 2016.

Hua and Sophia funded the start-up brand entirely by themselves with savings and a few grants…until they accepted Tesco’s invitation to be featured on “BackIt”. They will use all of the monies raised through BackIt to buy a van to help them get the teas to more shops, workplaces and charities around the UK – plus ensure sufficient sales support to get the drinks available as quickly as possible.

For a pledge of just £10, supporters will be rewarded with hot and iced Tg green teas and generous savings on purchasing more drinks…and for a pledge of £25 or more, Hua and Sophia will also reward supporters with a host of other goodies, including smoothie blenders, portable tea infusers, and an office tea party. They have also partnered with the Help Harry Help Others charity and every person who pledges £25 or more between now and the end of October will receive – in addition to the rewards above – a commemorative #cancersucks bracelet.

Go to www.drinktg.com to click through to Tg Green Teas’ Tesco Backit crowdfunding campaign. Please watch the video, make a pledge to support their healthy drinks campaign and share the mission with your social media network. A tasty green tea movement is brewing.

Follow Tg Green Teas and Sophia & Hua’s journey on: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook


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