Bryon White, co-founder of Yaupon Brothers American Tea Co., identified the market opportunity for his first startup venture as a result of his long-time interest in botany.
"I worked in law enforcement and government forever so it's a happy accident that I've launched Yaupon Brothers," he said. "I'm a native plant enthusiast and into ethno-botany and native agriculture. As a result, I was familiar with the Native American's use of yaupon and wondered why it was never available commercially. It was just a fringe product so we surmised it didn’t taste good. We experimented with it and found out it was a nice-tasting tea."
Yaupon Brothers grows and sources Florida-native yaupon holly, which is North America's only native caffeinated plant species. The company processes it into herbal tea and sells it nationwide.
"No one is utilizing yaupon as it should be used so it’s a complete disrupter in the tea industry," White explained. "As far as the modern American consumer is concerned, it's a completely new product that is a viable alternative to coffee and tea. It’s an antioxidant superfood on the order of green tea that is gaining popularity. We are on target to hit 100% growth this year over last year and hopefully we keep that momentum going."
White's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is that entrepreneurship can be a slog so it is important to be prepared and seek assistance.
"Be realistic about what you're doing," he said. "Don’t kid yourself about what you're getting into and don’t be afraid to ask people for help."