Hey Tea, sought after by thousands of young girls, has raised funds again!
Recently, HiTea has just completed a new round of US$500 million in financing. Investors include Black Ant Capital, Tencent , Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital, Temasek, L Catterton and Niche Capital.
After this round of financing, the valuation of Hey Tea reached an unprecedented 60 billion yuan, setting a new record for China’s new tea drink financing valuation.
It is worth mentioning that although Hi Tea has not yet been listed, its valuation is more than twice that of Naixue’s tea, the largest domestic competitor, which was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange at the end of June.
As the founder of HiTea, Nie Yunchen has just entered the year of his establishment this year. According to this round of valuation calculations, his net worth has exceeded 15 billion yuan, and Nie Yunchen has also been promoted to the first person born in the 90s in China.
From a small shop on the street of Jiangmen, a small city in Guangdong, to more than 800 stores in more than 60 cities at home and abroad, Nie Yunchen has done a miracle for a seemingly ordinary business.
And what is the secret behind this miracle? A word from Nie Yunchen may give us a glimpse of the leopard:
“I only care about the biggest things and the smallest things. The biggest thing is the brand strategy, and the smallest thing is the details, as small as the banners, decoration and text details.”
Selling mobile phones to get the first pot of gold in life
In 1991, Nie Yunchen was born in an ordinary family in Rongtang Town, Fengcheng, Jiangxi. Before graduating from junior high school, he followed his parents to Jiangmen, Guangdong.
Nie Yunchen was shocked by the relocation from a backward town in Jiangxi to a developed town in Guangdong. At that time, he was still in the age of weak crown, so he made up his mind to make his own world in this hot economic land.
Due to the poor foundation of studying in Jiangxi earlier, despite his later efforts to make up for it, Nie Yunchen was only admitted to a college in Guangzhou during the final college entrance examination: Guangdong Vocational College of Science and Technology.
Nie Yunchen was very speechless for a while studying administration management in a technical vocational school. But he quickly adjusted and actively coped with his university life in the coming year.
During college, due to focus on science and technology, Nieyun Chen became acquainted with science and technology blog love child norm founder of Wilson, and through their own efforts, became the love Fan children’s writer. This job gave him an in-depth understanding of the global technological development dynamics. Jobs also became Nie Yunchen’s idol during this time and laid the groundwork for his first entrepreneurial venture.
Both of Nie Yunchen’s parents are supervision engineers, who are specially responsible for the supervision of project construction. They are rigorous and pragmatic, and there is no room for mistakes.
However, Nie Yunchen is not a person who can “step by step”.
2010 is a critical year for the development of domestic smart phones. With the epoch-making iPhone 4 on the market, HTC is dominating the party, while Nokia is barely showing the last glimmer.
At the time, 19-year-old Nie Yunchen had just graduated from school. Under the influence of his idol Jobs, he decided to sell mobile phones.
Nie Yunchen’s mobile phone shop is in Guangzhou. His wishful thinking at the beginning was very loud: opening a mobile phone shop can not only sell mobile phones, but also make double money by jailbreaking and flashing the phone. The cost is low, the inventory pressure is low, and the future is simply bright.
But not long after the opening, he encountered Waterloo.
Because the location is too remote, not to mention the customers who enter the store for consumption, and there are very few passers-by passing by.
When he was forced to the corner, he decided to give it a try: to help the guests to flash the machine for free, to jailbreak and install the software!
“The customer did not come, it was not his fault, it was our fault, we did not let him know about us. Now he comes here to get free service, maybe he will have the opportunity to become our customer in the future.” Nie Yunchen recalled later.
Sure enough, after the implementation of this method, the number of customers in the store instantly increased.
Later, many customers felt embarrassed about the free service, so they would buy some mobile phone cases, earphones and other accessories before leaving. Slowly, Nie Yunchen’s small shop turned into a shop that makes money from mobile phone accessories. But even such a small shop made Nie Yunchen earn 200,000 yuan in the next two years.
A few years later, Nie Yunchen recalled the first time he started his own business: “If this free service hadn’t been offered at that time, maybe this store would have closed down because its location was really bad.
Upgrade products and create a new era of tea
Just as Nie Yunchen looked forward to the future and wanted to make the mobile phone store bigger and stronger, the market was quietly undergoing tremendous changes.
In 2011, domestic knockoffs emerged, e-commerce began to rise, and offline mobile phone stores faced unprecedented impact.
Seeing that business is getting worse every day, Nie Yunchen began to feel anxious. “What should I do now? Should I stick to it or seek a new direction?” During that time, Nie Yunchen often fought with his own deity in his mind.
But just as he was thinking hard, a turning point came unexpectedly.
One day, when Nie Yunchen was passing by a milk tea shop, his inspiration came to light: milk tea made with powder also had a large number of customers. Wouldn’t it be more popular if it was a real drink?
In addition, the threshold for opening a milk tea shop is not high. It can be large or small. Larger ones can make young Chinese tea drinks. Smaller ones can start from a small stall. “
With this idea, Nie Yunchen knocked on the door of the milk tea industry with the 200,000 yuan he saved from opening a mobile phone shop. He made up his mind to make a milk tea that allows users to drink real milk, tea, and real ingredients.
After half a year of product development and preparation, on May 12, 2012, Nie Yunchen’s first milk tea shop with only 20 square meters was successfully opened on Jiuzhong Street, Jiangmen City, Guangdong Province, named ROYALTEA (the predecessor of HEYTEA), a This is the beginning of the new tea drinking era.
Wong tea, meaning “the best tea”, is taking the high refined product road line. Just as Sun Zhengyi stood on the fruit box at the beginning of his business and said that he would become the richest man in the world, the 21-year-old Nie Yunchen said to employees at the opening: “Here is the place where a brand was born.”
At that time, the employees covered their mouths and laughed. But they didn’t expect that this sentence would really become a reality in the future.
The first product of Huangcha is milk salt green tea, which was independently developed by Nie Yunchen half a year before opening.
“Starting from scratch, without any foundation, it took a long time just to understand the structure of milk tea.” Nie Yunchen said in an interview later.
In addition, like most small stall bosses, he has several jobs alone, and he has to worry about store decoration, taste modulation, menu design, etc., and he is often too busy to get confused.
However, the tremendous effort did not immediately bring success.
The promotion activities three days before the opening of Emperor Tea attracted a lot of people to queue up, and the crowds were crowded for a while.
However, as soon as the event is over, the facade becomes deserted, no one comes to patronize, sometimes only a few cups are sold a day.
At its worst, the shop only had a turnover of 20 yuan a day.
At that time, Nie Yunchen asked himself a question: “If no one in the world has ever opened a milk tea shop, I am the first one to open it, how would I make the product, select the material, and make the process?”
Later, Nie Yunchen settled down. On the one hand, he studied the products of mainstream beverage shops on the market, on the other hand, he worked hard on the taste of milk tea. He looked around for customer reviews and continued to improve. At most, he revised the formula 6 times a day and drank 20 cups of milk tea by himself.
After a lot of hard work, Nie Yunchen discovered that mango and cheese were the most ordered ingredients. As if he had discovered a new world, he innovatively matched cheese with milk caps.
Finally, HiTea launched a subversive product at the time-the first cheese milk covered tea.
Fresh cheese, fresh milk, and tea leaves are added to make the bottom of the tea. Once this cup of tea was launched, it was widely acclaimed and completely saved the deserted business of the store.
At the same time, compared to instant milk tea, although the royal tea at that time was a bit more expensive, the ingredients were more abundant. When consumers complained about the lack of pulp in tea drinks, Nie Yunchen added the pulp to 2/3 of the whole cup; when complained about the bad taste of the original tea, Nie Yunchen chose the milk tea with suitable taste by blending various teas.
In this way, under Nie Yunchen’s painstaking management, within half a year, Royal Tea gradually became synonymous with queuing in Jiangmen, and there was no queuing to buy Royaltea, which seemed to have won a lottery at the time.
Since then, with the expansion of Huangcha, this queuing boom has spread rapidly in the Pearl River Delta cities such as Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Dongguan, and Guangzhou. According to relevant data, in 2014, when Emperor Tea opened its 38th store, it used 30 million triangular tea bags, which is evident in the hot scene.
By the end of 2015, Huangcha had opened more than 50 stores in Guangdong.
Since Nie Yunchen has been self-employed since the beginning of his business, there are countless people who follow the trend after Huangcha’s popularity.
In addition, the single word “皇茶” cannot be registered as a trademark. As long as the prefix or suffix is added, it is easy to be copied. Therefore, although the shops opened by these imitators have nothing to do with “Imperial Tea”, they just seize the loopholes and rank as “Imperial Tea”.
Because they are not authentic royal tea milk teas, the taste of these cottage milk teas is naturally not pure enough, so that the majority of consumers have begun to doubt Nie Yunchen’s “huang tea”.
Nie Yunchen and his team tried every means to deal with this long-troubled problem. Although there was a certain effect, it was not ideal after all.
Later, he reluctantly pointed out through the official official account: “All kinds of “Emperor Tea” are flooding the Internet. They all have almost the same facade design and menu variety as ours. They have bad taste, but they claim to kill all stores at every turn.”
Long-term pain is worse than short-term pain. After consideration of all circumstances, even willing to take the risk of loss and turnover within a period of decline, Nieyun Chen decided to change the brand name of the word.
At the beginning of 2016, Nie Yunchen bought the successfully registered trademark of Hey Tea, and in the following month, all its more than 50 “Huangcha” stores were renamed “Hey Tea”.
A national brand was born!
Marriage capital, sound the clarion call for offense
The renamed Hey Tea quickly became popular with its brand positioning and excellent products, and the sight of hundreds of people lining up often appeared in the streets and alleys.
At that time, the behavior of young people punching in hi tea and then taking photos and posting to Moments became a new social currency.
Such hot scenes naturally attracted the attention of capital. Soon, Hey Tea received the first round of external financing of 100 million yuan in June 2016. The investor is today’s investment founded by idg capital and the founder of the beverage giant “Robust”.
IDG Capital’s partner Lianmeng once revealed: “It was in 2015 when I became involved with Hey Tea. Before investing in Hey Tea, IDG Capital had always pursued and had high hopes for casual snacks and beverages, especially tea. People were always looking for people. The demand for tea and the significance of tea drinks to mankind have always existed. But from a practical point of view, among the tea drinks on the street, products that can really give young people a real good experience can hardly be found until the emergence of tea. “
And Nie Yunchen’s attitude towards capital is not repulsive. He said: “The integration with the company’s capital is a great must pass through a road I like the company, such as Facebook, twitter, apples are so over..”
After the financing was in place, Hey Tea began to go out of Guangdong and expand across the country. It opened stores in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other first-tier cities, which completely kicked off the prelude to the rush.
In April 2018, with the support of its outstanding performance, Hi Tea received another 400 million yuan in Series B financing, with investors from Black Ant Capital and Dragon Ball Capital. Among them, Pearl capital of the US group reviews its industrial funds, Pearl Capital founding partner Zhu Yonghua behalf of the US group as a director hi tea.
After the B round of financing, Hi Tea completed two things: one was to launch an online takeaway service, and the other was to enter overseas markets.
This year, consumers can enjoy hi tea takeaway services through online software. In November of the same year, HiTea officially opened its first store in Singapore. In just one week, Hey Tea has set off a new wave of crazy queuing in the Lion City.
Immediately after July 2019, Hi Tea received a new round of financing led by Tencent and Sequoia Capital, with a post-investment valuation of 9 billion yuan.
By March 2020, HiTea completed a new round of financing against the trend of the epidemic. Hillhouse Capital and Kotu Capital jointly led the investment, and the post-investment valuation jumped to 16 billion yuan.
In the latest round of financing, Hi Tea set a new financing valuation record for China’s New Tea Drinks with a financing of US$500 million. The US$500 million investment by Black Ant Capital, Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital, Temasek, L Catterton, and Niche Capital has given Hey Tea a valuation of up to 60 billion yuan.
Before the completion of this round of financing, an investor revealed: “The competition between institutions is still very fierce, and various trusteeships want to get some shares from it. Once they can get on the car, they are all operating quickly, for fear of changes.
The popularity of hi tea in the capital circle is evident.
Along with the valuation, it is the expansion speed of Hey Tea. On February 1 this year, HiTea officially announced the 2020 annual report. Among them, it is mentioned that Hey Tea has opened 695 stores in 61 cities around the world. Among them, in 2020, it will enter 18 cities and open 304 new stores, including 202 Hey Tea main stores and 102 GO stores.
According to the latest public information, the number of Xicha’s current stores has exceeded 800. In comparison, Hi Tea opened 390 stores in 43 cities in 2019, compared with 163 in 2018.
After running wildly for several years, Hey Tea has become a super unicorn of new tea drinks.
Dominate the arena, sitting on 60 billion companies
In China, tea is a big category. According to the “2020 New Tea Drinks White Paper” statistics, the total size of China’s tea drink market in 2020 is 442 billion yuan, of which the new tea drink market is 102 billion yuan, and is expected to exceed 110 billion yuan in 2021.
The industry has never been so much a lack of participants, even in hi tea tea to create a new track, but also the followers , such as streams .
Naixue’s Tea, Lele Tea, Michelle Ice City , Tea Yanyue Color , Little Bit, Yihetang, Hushang Auntie , Coco, Yifang, Gu Ming , Shu Yi Burning Immortal Grass… … Dozens of tea brands are now making their own efforts and the competition is fierce.
However, as a pioneer, Hey Tea has broken a bloody path in this red sea, and its latest valuation of 60 billion is a cliff-edge surpassing other brands in the same category.
Naxue’s tea broke immediately after its listing, and its market value is now HK$26 billion, which is less than half of the valuation of Hey Tea. As for Michelle Ice City, which focuses on sinking markets, although its stores are blooming everywhere, its valuation is only RMB 20 billion.
Why can hi tea dominate the new tea drinking scene? In the eyes of many investors, the greatest value of HiTea is its brand.
“Hi Tea is a relatively rare brand that continuously has leading aesthetics and value output, and the brand has the potential to cross categories.” An investor told reporters. Two years ago, the investors of Hey Tea also stated in an interview that such a valuation was mainly due to its huge brand value.
This value is largely derived from the pursuit of young people, and “winning young people” is the most obvious manifestation of its brand value.
For some young people, hi tea is the yyds (eternal god) of the tea drinking world. Apart from being expensive, it has no shortcomings. According to iiMedia Consulting’s data, among the new tea brands in Q2 2020, Hey Tea has the highest consumer awareness, accounting for 43%.
Being able to occupy the minds of users so deeply is inseparable from the long-term social media marketing and various cross-industry joint names of Xicha.
HeyTea focuses on “inspiration tea”, and has been out of the circle through marketing many times and has built itself into a trendy IP. Some netizens said with a smile that Xicha is actually a marketing company, just selling tea by the way.
According to statistics, hi tea since 2017, including the linkage of Maybelline, iQIYI brand, Okamoto, Mr. Muscle, nearly 80 different categories, known as “tea industry superme”.
In July last year, Xicha Guanxuan and Wuling Hongguang MINIEV jointly launched a milk tea-style Wuling car. The mini cute pink appearance was screened on major social networking sites for a while, and the topic was full.
Successive marketing activities have brought continuous heat to Hi Tea. According to statistics, since 2017, Hey Tea has been listed on more than 30 hot searches, compared to only 5 times.
Perhaps it is precisely out of the consideration of marketing enthusiasm that investment talents will give Hey Tea a higher brand valuation than Nayuki.
Nie Yunchen’s entrepreneurial philosophy
“The biggest difficulty in early-stage entrepreneurship comes from anxiety. Anxiety may come from wanting to go a long way, but you find that you only took one or two steps.” Nie Yunchen mentioned in a public speech.
Later, he slowly realized the truth and began to believe in the ten-thousand-hour rule: only by treating something as a habit can he combat boredom and anxiety without being trapped by inertia.
The three areas where Nie Yunchen usually spends the most time are products, brands and operations. In his view, the product is the starting point, the operation is the foundation, and the brand is the core of the success of HiTea.
The product is the starting point.
Many people think that Xicha’s products are successful by breaking social circles, but Nie Yunchen does not agree with this. He said that the original intention of HiTea was to let everyone drink really good milk tea, and he believed that consumers could distinguish good from bad. Therefore, the starting point for Hey Tea is to taste good products. He does not believe that products that do not taste good can be welcomed by everyone.
In order to make a good tea that everyone likes, Heytea, like an Internet company, will try many products at the same time. In the end, Nie Yunchen will see which one has progressed to the point where he feels like he wants to share it with everyone immediately.
“If a new product is before the launch, I would want to ask others if it tastes good or not, then it is generally not good enough, and there will be bad results after it comes out.” Nie Yunchen told reporters.
But to be on the safe side, even if you think it’s good, after the new product is launched, Hi Tea will not start to promote it immediately.
For HiTea, listing is not the end of product development, but a node in product development, and often even a starting point. It’s because it’s only after the launch that consumers will know what feedback consumers have on this product. This is the sample size and feedback authenticity that cannot be achieved by internal testing.
Therefore, in Nie Yunchen’s view, the new product is very important when it first hits the market. In the first few days, they will not only go on the market in a low-key manner, but will also intensively change the formula if necessary, just to make the best milk tea for users.
Operation is the foundation.
Nie Yunchen believes that every company has a line of life and death, which may not be your core, but if you step on the line, the entire company may have problems. In the operation of Hey Tea, food safety is a life and death line, so Hey Tea attaches great importance to operations.
However, operating capabilities need to be continuously improved with development, and the problems encountered by different store sizes will be completely different.
The first hurdle that HeyTea passed when it first started its business was the operation of its first store. In the beginning, they had no experience in division of labor, setting up procedures, preventing the clerk from stealing money, etc. Later, it took a lot of time to manage that store well.
Later, when opening a branch, Hey Tea encountered the problem of expanding in other places, involving recruitment and training of city managers. These problems were solved before they dared to go to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen to open a shop.
Now, Hi Tea is facing new challenges. Because they cover a wider area and the number of stores they operate is more dense.
Nie Yunchen told reporters: “Recently we have done a lot of measures to improve the operating system, but it takes time to be effective. Because of the problems encountered at this moment, many times it is because a certain aspect was not done well a few months ago. And we did it at this moment. It may take a few months before it can take effect.”
Operation is a protracted battle. Nie Yunchen said that they will continue to invest time, hoping to make it better.
Brand is the core.
Many people think that the reason for McDonald’s success is standardization, but Nie Yunchen does not agree. He believed that it was the result of success, not the cause. Whether it’s McDonald’s or Starbucks , their success must be due to their early product and brand advantages, but after decades of reverse, they have standardized their products under their own standards.
During the imperial tea period, because the products and reputation were well done in Jiangmen, imperial tea began to go abroad. I thought that Jiangmen’s queuing scene would be reproduced, but the reality is counterproductive. Nie Yunchen found that no one knew Huangcha at all, and he didn’t even try it when he passed by. He only began to realize that the product was just a starting point, and they had to be a brand if they wanted to be bigger.
So later, Nie Yunchen attached great importance to brand building.
Up to now, Hi Tea Brand and Vision Center has hundreds of employees, almost all of whom are born in the 90s. The employees who specialize in content and new media are mainly born around 96. In the first few years when Heycha started, all work related to brand building was done by Nie Yunchen himself. The small crown trademark in the imperial tea period is his work.
At the same time, Nie Yunchen also has his own unique understanding and persistence in brand building.
First of all, the positioning of the brand should not be too narrow.
For example, it should not be positioned as a lifestyle brand born after 1995. Some people like to locate this way, which makes things smaller and smaller. The brand should be positioned in something eternal. Nie Yunchen hopes it will be cool, so now the slogan of Heytea is the “tea of inspiration”.
Nie Yunchen said that the ultimate vision of HiTea is to rejuvenate, internationalize and Internetize tea and the culture behind tea, and based on this, make a symbol and brand that transcends culture and region.
Secondly, the spread of the brand needs to be well-equipped with carriers and details.
“Brand communication in the Internet age requires good content. But the content is too virtual, so it needs to find a carrier to achieve better communication. Promotional materials are a kind of carrier, store space, product packaging, and even fire hydrants in the store can also be used. Seen as a carrier.” Nie Yunchen mentioned in a speech.
Nie Yunchen believes that good brands are dull. It is subtle, moisturizing things silently, and the things that are erected in the end will not disappear overnight.
Therefore, Nie Yunchen also attaches great importance to details. Many people who have worked with him are deeply impressed by his carefulness. Zi Yu, the person in charge of Heytea Brand and Visual Center, cited an example: Nie Yunchen personally checks the promotional materials before going out of the street, including a typo, or even a pixel. Do not let go of the move.
Nie Yunchen himself once said: “Our brand promotion is very fragmented. For example, the characters on the fire hydrant in the store should be changed by ourselves. Because this is unified, no one may notice. We spent nine years. Time, that is, until now, we dare to talk about the brand.”
Write at the end
Ten years ago, Nie Yunchen was just an ignorant boy wearing dozens of T-shirts. He once stood in a mobile phone shop with more than ten flats, struggling with his future.
Ten years later, he was incarnate as a ten billionaire who was on the same wealth list as Ma Huateng and other bigwigs. At this time, he was in the Shenzhen headquarters of HeyTea, pointing the country.
In the past ten years, the vicissitudes of life have changed drastically.
The miracle of Xicha, Nie Yunchen’s growth, is a personal effort and a microcosm of the times.
Recalling in 2012, when Xicha was just a small shop in Jiangmen, Nie Yunchen said to the employees: “Here is the place where a brand was born.”
At that time, everyone covered their mouths and laughed.
But now, the sound of ridicule will never appear again.
Hi Tea has become a rising brand.
Nie Yunchen also used his paranoia and unyielding spirit to write a legend that belongs to the post-90s generation.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/nie-yunchen-the-founder-of-hitea-i-spent-11-years-from-graduating-from-junior-college-to-producing-60-billion-unicorns/
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