This week on The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, Wes interviews Justin Howe, a serial entrepreneur and investor whose latest venture, HTeaO, is experiencing explosive growth, mere months after launch. HTeaO is a social, experiential iced tea franchise, featuring 24 different flavors of tea and a wide variety of healthy snack options. Since its launch a year ago, HTeaO has opened 6 stores, with 16 under construction and an additional 5 on the verge of breaking ground. Additionally, since it ventured into franchising late last year, there are 99 stores in various stages of development, between 48 different franchisees.
Justin understands the value of market research, and his decision to venture into an already saturated social beverage industry was a calculated one. But, at the end of the day, he also understands that, sometimes, you have to go with your gut, take a gamble, and see if the dice roll pays off. On the podcast, Justin walks through his personal story and focuses in on HTeaO, which is seemingly on the verge of greatness — all because of a little risk and a little research.
The EnTRUEpreneurship Takeaway:
“Go after an idea. Don’t be dumb. Listen to what the consumer tells you. But, also, go all in and make decisions that are based on what you believe will be successful. And get ready to fail a bunch."
“[Because of market testing], we didn’t take something to market that we thought would work. We took something to market that we had a hunch would work."
“We needed to blitz the market to become a real force. The only real option was franchising. And we love all of the people that this thing has attracted."
“I think the biggest problem entrepreneurs make is they don’t commit fully."
“A profitable business model is awesome, but in the growth stages, profit is very much secondary. We’re looking to build our teams and infrastructure and the ability to research products and the ability to understand marketing. The plan is to spend all of the money. And at some point, you’re going to have something."
“If you want to build something bigger than yourself, you have to build teams. And you’ve got to be willing to let your teams fail as they grow."
“If you’re not happy in chaos, you should probably stick to the one or two store, self-employed business model."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
3:07: Justin discusses how his immersion into a family of entrepreneurs shaped the person who he is today.
5:53: Justin shares about his first real business as a young adult — a snow cone stand owned by his stepdad that he ran from end-to-end at the age of 17.
8:15: Howe explains what drove him to pursue a degree in aviation and how he used that degree to build one of his first businesses.
10:06: Howe describes his current (and rapidly expanding) business, HTeaO, which is in many ways the Starbucks of iced tea.
11:10: Justin explains the odd jump from aviation to iced tea and how his iced tea company evolved from start to present.
17:11: Justin discusses why he decided to build an iced tea brand, when the social beverage market is already fairly saturated.
22:12: Justin shares the point at which his company decided to take the huge step in developing stores beyond Amarillo.
26:42: Howe gives some advice for entrepreneurs who are considering investing money and energy in a specific direction.
30:58: Howe discusses the biggest obstacle he’s had to overcome as the owner of a rapidly growing business.
36:19: Justin encourages entrepreneurs to be patient, especially in the early days of their businesses.
Bullet List of Resources –