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A home-brewed business takes tea to the next level

How reliable internet, flexible data and affordable roaming made life a little more zen for a young company and family.

“Like the coffee and wine industries, the tea industry is ready for a big transformation,” says David O’Connor who, along with his business and life partner, Sarah Wilcox, spent five years learning from tea masters throughout Asia before establishing Genuine Tea: a farm-to-cup tea wholesaler and online retailer whose mission is to change the way North Americans think about tea.

“What makes our tea different,” says Sarah, “is that we focus on details like region, elevation and harvest date, and we’re committed to shrinking that gap between the tea in your cup and the people who make it as special as it is. That’s why we’ve forged partnerships with plantations in Asia and import tea directly from them, which also ensures the tea is fresh.”

These new parents to son, Jacob, have their multiple-award-winning products in 200 cafes across Ontario, New York, as well as Vancouver and Calgary—and it’s all run out of their 1,000 square-foot space in the heart of Leslieville, Toronto with the help of only three other employees.

A man, and a woman holding a baby standing together and smiling

"...growing our online business is a huge part of our strategy for the future."

“Currently, our business is split 80% wholesale and 20% online retail,” says David, “but growing our online business is a huge part of our strategy for the future." The pair realize that there are a lot of benefits to selling online, including scaling exponentially without requiring extra staff and much more overhead, and using those savings to focus on ad spend. “Online also gives you direct access to your customers,” says Sarah, “in a way that bricks-and-mortar simply doesn’t.”

On top of taking care of their new family, David and Sarah’s daily tasks include processing online payments via their website and at tradeshows, sending invoices over the internet as well as sharing and storing a variety of other important documents. That’s where Rogers Ignite for business internet comes in.

“...everyone needs to be connected. We’re all doing very different tasks all at the same time, so it’s nice to be able to have that reliability."

“When we have all five people in the office at the same time,” says David, “everyone needs to be connected. We’re all doing very different tasks all at the same time, so it’s nice to be able to have that reliability."

David and Sarah have to wear many different hats, from CFO to CMO to sales rep. “We’re always on the road, going to tradeshows, pitching to potential retailers, visiting current ones and showing them how to share tea with their customers in new and innovative ways,” says David, and that kind of mobile workstyle also requires reliability.  “I need to be able to seamlessly switch from app to app on my smartphone and see how our social media campaigns are performing and how our sales are doing.”

“We basically run our entire business from our phone"

“We basically run our entire business from our phone,” says Sarah. “Anything and everything can be done from this one device.”

Having a flexible data package is also crucial. With Share Everything for business from Rogers, David and Sarah find it easy to stay on top of their data usage to keep costs predictable. “Each of our data needs change month to month,” says David, “but because we’re sharing one bucket of data, it’s easy to keep track of what each of us is doing.”

Furthermore, David and Sarah’s travel plans aren’t just local. “When we’re on tea-sourcing trips overseas, it’s really important to stay connected with what’s happening back in Toronto,” says Sarah. That’s where Roam Like Home, part of David and Sarah’s Share Everything for business plan, benefits them, allowing them to roam worry-free in more than 125 destinations worldwide for a flat additional daily fee. “Roam Like Home is great because it not only keeps us connected, but we don't end up with a giant bill at the end of our trip,” she says.

With a new family and a new company, David and Sarah appreciate being able to juggle those priorities more easily. “Being a parent is a job in itself, and having to run a business on top of that gets a little hectic,” says Sarah, “but with the services we have from Rogers, it’s easier to stay on top of everything.”

“Plus, since our future is online,” adds David, “having fast, reliable connectivity and manageable data helps make that future look especially bright.”