We sat down with Jack Hsiao of Latea Bubble Tea Lounge in West Lafayette, IN to learn about how he started such a successful business in the home of Purdue University from such a young age. Jack has shown college students, visitors, and locals alike the importance of how sourcing as naturally and organically as possible can make a huge difference in his bubble teas, pastries, and customer experience. Read on to learn Jack’s story!
Why did you decide to start your business? Tell us your backstory!
Growing up, I was deeply inspired by my father’s entrepreneurial spirit while watching him build his own tutor-school company from the ground up. I knew I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps to one day open my own business. In the pursuit of this dream, I came to the United States during my sophomore year of high school. I then went on to attend Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana to study Hospitality & Tourism Management. During my senior year at Purdue, I developed my business concept using extensive knowledge of the bubble tea industry gained from my grandmother’s ample experience in this industry. I saw potential for creating my own bubble tea brand utilizing organic, all-natural whole leaf teas and fresh ingredients with the goal of promoting tea-drinking culture through Latea while growing it into a nationwide brand.
Why do you love doing business in West Lafayette?
As a Purdue alumnus, I feels inherently connected with the West Lafayette community. During my time at the university, I was heavily involved in numerous student organizations and activities that helped me feel connected to the student body and surrounding community. I also love the vibrant and welcoming attitude of Purdue students and the city of West Lafayette. Although born in Taiwan, I also consider West Lafayette to be home and am excited to bring bubble tea to the Midwest.
What’s the most helpful piece of customer feedback you’ve received?
The most helpful feedback we receive recognizes the hard work and detail we put into our products. This motivates me and my staff to continue our hard work. I also appreciates feedback that highlights areas of improvement. The feedback allow us tp to strive towards excellence in both products and customer service.
What’s your advice for other business owners or someone who wants to start a small business?
The most important part is to be passionate about what you do and never forget what drives you. This focus will keep you motivated along the journey when challenges and obstacles may arise. While you don’t have to be the best at what you do in the beginning, knowing what you want to become is the first step in this process. Once you find your passion, make a plan and execute it.
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