MSc Nutrition, Physical Activity and Public Health graduate Yi Zeng is the founder of Yi Cha.
Yi, tell us about yourself…
“I came to the UK in 2014 and studied a Masters in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Public Health at University of Bristol. I have always been passionate about food and culture. After I graduated, I started my own food business in Bristol straight away and ran it for two years. I then moved to Birmingham, joined the BSEEN programme and started two new businesses.”
Tell us more about your start ups…
“My new business is called Yi Cha. I run Chinese Tea Ceremony workshops for various events and clients. I have set up an e-commerce website, selling Chinese tea and other tea related products. I really enjoy introducing this great life style and Chinese tea culture to the West.
Unlimited China is another company that I started with the support of BSEEN. Unlimited China coordinates equestrian related events and collaborations between China and the UK.”
What made you jump at the chance of coming on BSEEN?
“After running my previous business for two years, I gained a lot of confidence and experience. When I moved to Birmingham everything was completely new to me. I didn’t know much about the city and had no business network when I moved here. So when I found out about BSEEN and made sure I was eligible to apply, I knew this was exactly what I needed! With the help of BSEEN, I met many like-minded peers and really great mentors. They all had an important impact on my business journey.”
What do you think you have learned the most from your BSEEN journey?
“It is important to have a great business idea but this is only the first step of the business. There are many challenges and unexpected situations which you might come across during your startup journey. So make sure you are ready and join a ‘Startup Family’, like the BSEEN one. They can help you overcome all the challanges one by one.”
What has been your business stand out moment since being on BSEEN?
“I met a great mentor on BSEEN, who gave me a lot of confidence and useful business advise. I since have been able to create my e-commerce website by myself and to run high quality events with clear targets. Now that my website is live, I have many events and festivals lined up. These are achievements which I am definitely proud of.”
Any advice for entrepreneurial students or graduates thinking about starting their own business?
“Always plan ahead, considering your ability and the company’s cash flow. Think about how long you can survive without profit. Running business can be fun but also quite challenging at the same time.
I would also advise entrepreneurs to always keep an eye out for the various support and funding that is available. Some of the opportunities that come to mind are: the Big Lottery Fund, Pitchfest, Santander Entrepreneurship Awards Competition, BSEEN funding of course and many more.”
What are your next steps for your business?
“I will continue to run my website and the events, and I will always strive to learn new things and explore different potential business avenues. We are planning to increase the range of products that we sell online. We are also working on collaborations with other talented activity providers so we can run interesting events such as a Yoga Tea Ceremony or a Tai Cha Afternoon Tea session.”