The Investibles: Positivitea's brewing up a tonic for the soul

Christopher Goodfellow
Sift Media
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Positivitea has a mission to change the world. Its founders want to harness the healing power of herbs within each of its teas to promote wellbeing; they're brewing a tonic for the soul. 

We caught up with founder Ellie Wharton who talked about being a MassChallenge finalist, the role of funding and the importance of being in a team full of happy souls.

Name: Ellie Wharton
Company: Positivitea
Date established: August 2014
Twitter: @positivitealdn

1. What is your investment status?

Seed investment £50,000, about to go crowdfunding for £75,000.

2. Describe your business in one paragraph; what’s its vision and what problem does it solve? 

Balance can be hard to find in today’s fast–paced world. At Positivitea we believe in the three P’s – being PRESENT, believing everything is POSSIBLE and remaining POSITIVE. We also believe in the chakras, the energy centres of the body. For thousand of years, they have been used as spiritual guidelines for wellbeing and are said to be directly connected to the health of the physical body and mind. When they are balanced you feel positive, healthy and happy.

By harnessing the healing power of herbs each tea within the Positivitea range has been specifically blended to help the smooth running of the organs associated with a particular chakra or counteract the ailments associated with its imbalance. Tea is a tonic for the soul, so if you’re a yogi, tea devotee or simply interested in improving your overall wellbeing Positivitea can help you bring the balance back one chakra at a time.

3. How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Positivitea sits comfortably (in the lotus position!) across all three markets.

I am a yoga teacher and I did a class based on the root chakra (the chakra associated with loss of direction and depression) and decided to go and buy a tea to help me balance it even more.  In the whole tea aisle of a large health food retailer, I could not find said tea . . . and so I decided to do it myself! The name came as a light bulb moment on the bus on the way home.

4. What’s your addressable market?

The yoga market is worth $80bn (£55bn), the wellbeing market is worth $3.4tn (£2.3tn) and the tea market is worth $38.2bn (£26bn) globally.  Positivitea sits comfortably (in the lotus position!) across all three markets. All three markets are exponentially growing as we become more health conscious as a society.

5. What’s great about your team and do you have a mentor?

My team is full of positivity – literally! We drink Positivitea every day and are likeminded happy souls. We are fortunate enough to have five mentors having been through an amazing accelerator programme called MassChallenge, the biggest in the world.

6. What key challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Cashflow has always been a struggle – in a product-based business a significant part of it will always be taken up with buying stock, which doesn’t leave much wriggle room for the other overheads (staff/marketing/PR etc).  

My team is full of positivity – literally! We drink Positivitea every day and are likeminded happy souls.

Of course one way to tackle this is investment, but you need a sizeable chunk so that you can relax and start to focus on the fundamentals . . . like selling your product! Hence why we are going crowdfunding.  Having cash in the bank also allows you to spend money on things that will help leverage the brand, like sales staff and investing in marketing and PR. 

The other big issues have been legal processes and bureaucracy, but that is something that all companies endure and is a necessary component of running a successful business. Getting all your ducks in a row is surprisingly difficult!

MassChallenge gave me the tools and the confidence to move the business forward by providing mentors and offering workshops in all the skills and information I was lacking as a solo founder. Without it, I’m not sure I would have known how to approach investors, curate my pitch or indeed reach proof of concept. In short, I have them to thank for making me step out of my comfort zone and push Positivitea to its full potential.

7. How have you funded your startup and why did you choose this route?

As above, we got seed investment of £50,000 (from friends and family, and one angel) and are now looking to crowdfund. We feel that the latter will really help us build an audience of loyal fans and is actually a form of marketing itself. We also hope that this route will capture the imagination and attention of bigger (as well as smaller) retailers.

8. How do you market your business and how successful has it been so far?

We were a finalist in the MassChallenge accelerator programme​, which helped propel us into the startup ecosystem where we have attracted interest from investors and gained lots of great mentors.  

Without spending money on PR we have been featured in Grazia, Tatler and Psychologies Magazine among others. We recently won ‘Best Wellbeing Tea’ in the Beauty Shortlist awards. 

We have also grown our social media following organically by doing events with big brands like Lulu Lemon and Sweaty Betty as well as collaborating in healthy pop-ups with wellbeing icons like Madeleine Shaw and Julie Montagu. Collaborations are great for us as our brand is very much focused on creating a lifestyle so by working with companies within the wellbeing industry we can cross promote and share followers. We also have a great partnership with Not On The High Street as the product is a unique gift offering.

9. What are your plans for the future?

We want to make the future full of Positivitea! 

In all seriousness we have big ambitions, we’d like to be the number one tea brand associated with health and wellbeing. Personally, I’d like to see the tea on the shelves of every yoga studio in the UK (and in the world for that matter!) as well as available to everyone through big retailers like Waitrose and Whole Foods. 

We already have a loyal following of devoted fans and so I don’t think this is much of a stretch of the imagination!

10. If you started again, is there anything you would do differently?

No, all the bumps in the road are there for a reason, to teach you something! I’ve learnt so much along the way and gained some invaluable skills to apply to life in general.

11. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs that are starting a business?

I think the most important piece of advice I’ve received over the past two years came from a serial entrepreneur who said simply: ‘I wish someone had told me when I began there is only one thing you need when you start a business – perseverance!’


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03rd May 2016 16:50

From @BusinessZone twitter follower @gwsanderson1:

"Nice one Ellie & crew! Great to see Positivitea pushing on, look forward to seeing crowd funding campaign."

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