China Food

Nie Yunchen, founder of Xi tea: it took me 11 years from graduating from junior college to producing 60 billion unicorns

the first person in the post-90s.

Thousands of girls are delighted with the tea and once again they are financing.
Recently, Xi tea has just delivered a new round of financing of US $500 million. The investors include black ant capital, Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse capital, Temasek, l catterton and Richu capital. After this round of financing, the valuation of Xi tea reached an unprecedented 60 billion yuan, refreshing the financing valuation record of China’s new tea.
It is worth mentioning that although Xi tea has not been listed, its valuation is more than twice that of Naixue tea, China’s largest competitor, which has just been listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange at the end of June.
Nie Yunchen, the founder of Xi tea, has just entered its infancy this year. According to this round of valuation, his net worth has exceeded 15 billion yuan, and Nie Yunchen has become the first person in the post-90s in China.
From a small shop in Jiangmen street, a small city in Guangdong, to more than 800 stores in more than 60 cities at home and abroad, Nie Yunchen has made a miracle of a seemingly ordinary business.
What is the secret behind this miracle? Nie Yunchen’s words may give us a glimpse:
“I only care about the biggest and the smallest. The biggest thing is brand strategy, and the smallest thing is details, as small as banners, decoration and text details. “
Get the first bucket of gold in life
In 1991, Nie Yunchen was born in an ordinary family in Rongtang Town, Fengcheng, Jiangxi Province. Before graduating from junior high school, he followed his parents to Jiangmen, Guangdong.
From a backward town in Jiangxi to a developed town in Guangdong, the relocation had a great impact on Nie Yunchen. At that time, he was still at the age of weak crown, so he made up his mind to break his own world in this hot economic land.
Due to the poor foundation of studying in Jiangxi earlier, Nie Yunchen was only admitted to a college in Guangzhou: Guangdong Vocational College of science and technology, and majored in administration in the College of humanities.
Nie Yunchen was very speechless when she studied administration in a technical vocational school. But he quickly adjusted and actively responded to his college life in the coming year.
During college, Nie Yunchen got acquainted with Wilson, the founder of aifaner, a technology blog, and became the lead writer of aifaner through her own efforts. This job gave him an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of global scientific and technological development. During this period, jobs also became Nie Yunchen’s idol and laid the groundwork for his first venture later.
Nie Yunchen’s parents are supervision engineers, who are specially responsible for the supervision of project construction. They are rigorous and down-to-earth, and can’t make any mistakes.
However, Nie Yunchen is not a person who can “step by step”.
2010 is a key year for the development of smart phones in China. With the launch of the epoch-making iPhone 4, HTC dominates, while Nokia is barely giving its last glimmer.
Nie Yunchen, then 19, had just graduated from school. Influenced by his idol jobs, he decided to sell mobile phones.
Nie Yunchen’s mobile phone store is opened in Guangzhou. His wishful thinking at the beginning was very loud: opening a mobile phone store can not only sell mobile phones, but also earn double money through prison break and brushing machines. With low cost and less inventory pressure, the future is a bright future.
But not long after opening, he encountered Waterloo.
Because the location is too remote, not to mention the guests who enter the store for consumption, there are few passers-by.
Forced to the corner, he decided to give it a try: brush the machine for guests for free and install software for prison break!
“The customer didn’t come. It’s not his fault, it’s our fault. We didn’t let him know us. Now he comes here to get free service. Maybe he will have a chance to become our customer in the future. ” Nie Yunchen later recalled.
Sure enough, after the implementation of this method, there were more customers in the store.
Later, many customers felt embarrassed about free service, so they would buy some mobile phone cases, headphones and other accessories before leaving. Slowly, Nie Yunchen’s shop turned into a profitable shop relying on mobile phone accessories. But it was just such a small shop that made Nie Yunchen earn 200000 yuan in the next two years.
Several years later, Nie Yunchen recalled his first venture: “if he didn’t do this free service at that time, maybe the store would close down because its location is really poor.”
Upgrade products and open a new era of tea
When Nie Yunchen looked forward to the future and wanted to make the mobile phone store bigger and stronger, the market was quietly undergoing great changes.
In 2011, domestic fake phones emerged, e-commerce began to rise, and offline mobile phone stores faced an unprecedented impact.
Seeing that business was getting worse day by day, Nie Yunchen began to feel anxious“ What should I do now? Do you stick to it or seek a new direction? ” During that time, Nie Yunchen often fought with his heaven and man in his mind.
While he was thinking hard, the turn came unexpectedly.
One day, Nie Yunchen had a sudden inspiration when passing a milk tea shop: milk tea made from powder also had a large number of customers. Would it be more popular if it was a genuine drink?
Moreover, the threshold for opening a milk tea shop is not high. It can be large or small. If you go big, you can make Chinese young tea, and if you go small, you can start from a small stall. “
With such an idea, Nie Yunchen knocked on the door of the milk tea industry with the 200000 yuan he had saved from opening a mobile phone store. He made up his mind to make a real milk tea with milk, tea and real materials for customers.
After half a year of product research and development and preparation, Nie Yunchen’s first milk tea shop with an area of only 20 square meters opened successfully in jiuzhong street, Jiangmen City, Guangdong Province on May 12, 2012. It was named Huangcha royaltea (the predecessor of Xicha heytea), and a new tea era was opened.
Imperial tea, which means “the best tea”, takes the high-end boutique route. Just as sun Zhengyi stood on the fruit box at the beginning of his business and said he wanted to become the richest man in the world, Nie Yunchen, 21, said to his employees when he opened his business: “here is the place where a brand was born.”
At that time, the employees covered their mouths and smiled. But they didn’t expect that the future has really become a reality.
The first product of imperial tea is milk salt green tea, which was independently developed by Nie Yunchen half a year before opening.
“From scratch, there is no foundation. It took a long time to understand the structure of milk tea.” Nie Yunchen later said in an interview.
In addition, like most small stall owners, he has several jobs. He has to worry about store decoration, taste modulation, menu design and so on. He is often too busy to turn around.
However, great efforts did not immediately lead to success.
The promotion activities three days before the opening of Huangcha attracted a lot of people to line up and were crowded for a time.
However, as long as the activity is over, the facade becomes deserted and few people come to visit. Sometimes only a few cups are sold a day.
At the worst, the store had a turnover of only 20 yuan a day.
At that time, Nie Yunchen asked himself a question: “if no one in the world had opened a milk tea shop and I was the first to open it, how would I make products, materials and processes?”
Later, Nie Yunchen sank down. On the one hand, he studied the products of mainstream beverage stores in the market, and on the other hand, he worked hard on the taste of milk tea. He looked around for customers’ comments, and then continued to improve. At most, he modified the formula six times a day and drank 20 cups of milk tea himself.
After some efforts, Nie Yunchen found that mango and cheese were the largest ingredients in a single order. As if he had discovered the new world, he creatively matched cheese with milk cover.
Finally, Xi tea launched a subversive product at that time – the first cheese milk covered tea.
Fresh cheese, fresh milk and tea are now at the bottom of the tea. Once this cup of tea was launched, it was widely praised and completely saved the cold business of the store.
Meanwhile, compared with instant milk tea, the imperial tea was a little more expensive at that time, but the materials were more sufficient. When consumers complained about the lack of pulp in tea, Nie Yunchen added the pulp to account for 2 / 3 of the whole cup; When complaining about the bad taste of the original tea, Nie Yunchen chose the milk tea with appropriate taste by combining a variety of tea leaves.
In this way, under Nie Yunchen’s painstaking management, within half a year, imperial tea gradually became synonymous with queuing in Jiangmen, while buying royaltea didn’t queue up, which seemed like winning a prize at that time.
Since then, with the expansion of imperial tea, this queuing upsurge has rapidly spread in Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Guangzhou and other cities in the Pearl River Delta. According to relevant data, in 2014, when Huangcha opened its 38th store, it used 30 million bags of triangular tea bags, which can be seen from its popularity.
By the end of 2015, Huangcha had opened more than 50 stores in Guangdong.
Since Nie Yunchen insisted on self-management from the beginning of business, there were countless followers after the popularity of imperial tea.
In addition, the two separate words “Huangcha” cannot be registered as a trademark. As long as you add a prefix or suffix, it is easy to be copied. Therefore, although the stores opened by these imitators have nothing to do with “imperial tea”, they just seize such loopholes and list the name of “imperial tea”.
Because they are not authentic imperial tea and milk tea, the taste of these cottage milk tea is naturally not pure enough, so that the majority of consumers began to doubt Nie Yunchen’s “imperial tea”.
Nie Yunchen and his team tried every means to solve this long-standing problem. Although it had a certain effect, it was not ideal.
Later, he reluctantly pointed out through the official account: “all kinds of” imperial tea “are full of Internet. They have almost the same facade design and menu varieties as ours, which are bad taste but are always calling all shops seckill.
Long pain is better than short pain. After considering all kinds of situations and even willing to bear the loss and risk of decline in turnover for a period of time, Nie Yunchen decided to change the brand name.
At the beginning of 2016, Nie Yunchen bought the successfully registered trademark Xi tea, and in the following month, all of his more than 50 “imperial tea” Direct stores were renamed “Xi tea”.
A national brand was born!
Marriage capital, blow the horn of attack
With its brand positioning and excellent products, Xi tea after its name change has become popular again. The scene of hundreds of people lining up often appears in the streets and alleys.
At that time, the behavior of young people punch in and like tea, and then take photos and send their circle of friends seemed to become a new social currency.
Such hot scenes naturally attracted the attention of capital. Soon, Xi tea obtained the first round of external financing of RMB 100 million in June 2016. The investor was today’s investment founded by IDG capital and he Boquan, founder of beverage giant “robust”.
Lianmeng, a partner of IDG capital, once said: “it was in 2015 that he became acquainted with Xi tea. Before investing in tea, IDG capital always pursued and had high hopes for leisure snacks and drinks, especially tea. People’s 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, the products that can really bring a real good experience to young people can hardly be found until the emergence of tea. “
Nie Yunchen’s attitude towards capital is not exclusive. He once said: “connecting with capital is the only way for great companies. Companies I like, such as Facebook, twitter and apple, have come like this. “
After the financing was in place, Xi tea began to go out of Guangdong and expand across the country. It opened stores in first tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, completely opening the prelude to the rush.
In April 2018, with the support of outstanding performance, Xi tea obtained another round B financing of RMB 400 million, with the investors being black ant capital and Longzhu capital. Among them, Longzhu capital is the industrial fund of meituan review, and Zhu Yonghua, the founding partner of Longzhu capital, acts as the director of Xi tea on behalf of meituan.
After round B financing, Xicha completed two things: first, online takeout service, and second, entering the overseas market. This year, consumers can enjoy happy tea takeout service through online software. In November of the same year, Xi tea’s first store in Singapore officially opened. In just one week, Xi tea set off a new round of crazy queuing upsurge in lion city.
Then, in July 2019, Xicha obtained a new round of financing led by Tencent and Sequoia Capital, with a post investment valuation of 9 billion yuan.
By March 2020, Xi tea had completed a new round of financing against the trend under the epidemic situation, which was jointly led by Hillhouse capital and cotu capital, and the post investment valuation jumped to 16 billion yuan.
In the latest round of financing, Xi tea refreshed the financing valuation record of China’s new tea with a financing of US $500 million. The $500 million investment of black ant capital, Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse capital, Temasek, l catterton and early capital makes the valuation of Xi tea as high as 60 billion yuan.
Before this round of financing delivery, an investor disclosed: “the competition among various institutions is still very fierce, and various trust relationships want to get some share. Once you can get on the bus, you have to grasp the operation for fear of change. “
The popularity of Xi tea in the capital circle can be seen.
What goes up with the valuation is the expansion speed of Xi tea. On February 1 this year, Xi tea officially released its 2020 annual report. It is mentioned that hi tea has opened 695 stores in 61 cities around the world, including 18 new cities and 304 new stores in 2020, including 202 main hi tea stores and 102 go stores.
According to the latest public information, the current number of stores of Xi tea has exceeded 800. In contrast, hi tea opened 390 stores in 43 cities in 2019, compared with 163 in 2018.
After years of galloping, tea loving has become a super Unicorn for new tea drinks.
Dominate the Jianghu, sitting on a 60 billion company
Tea is a big category in China. According to the statistics of the 2020 new tea white paper, the total scale of China’s tea market in 2020 is 442 billion yuan, of which the scale of the new tea market is 102 billion yuan, and it is expected to exceed 110 billion yuan in 2021.
Such a large industry has never lacked participants. Even in the new tea drinking track created by Xi tea, it is also a stream of followers.
Naixueyi tea, Lele tea, honey Snow Ice City, tea Yan Yuese, Yidian, yihetang, aunt Hushang, coco Duke, Yifang, ancient tea, shuyishaoxiancao… Dozens of tea brands are now making their own efforts, and the competition is extremely fierce.
However, as a pioneer, Xi tea has made a way in the Red Sea, and its latest valuation of 60 billion is a cliff style, surpassing other brands in the same category.
Naixue tea broke off immediately after its listing. Now its market value is HK $26 billion, less than half of the valuation of Xi tea. The main sinking market, honey Snow Ice City, although stores bloom everywhere, its valuation is only 20 billion yuan.
Why can Xi tea dominate the new tea drinking Jianghu? In the view of many investors, the greatest value of Xi tea is its brand.
“Happy tea is a relatively rare brand with leading aesthetic and value output, and the brand has the potential to span categories.” An investor told reporters. Two years ago, the investors of Xi tea also said in an interview that such valuation mainly stems from its huge brand value.
This value, to a large extent, comes from the pursuit of young people. “Taking young people” is the most obvious manifestation of its brand value.
For some young people, liking tea is the tea drinking world yyds (eternal God). There are no disadvantages except expensive. According to AI media consulting data, among Q2 new tea brands in 2020, consumers who like tea have the highest recognition, accounting for 43%.
The ability to occupy users’ minds so deeply is inseparable from tea’s long-term social media marketing and various cross-border co branding.
Hi tea focuses on “tea of inspiration”. It has made itself a trend IP by relying on marketing for many times. Some netizens joked that Xi tea is actually a marketing company, just selling tea by the way.
According to statistics, since 2017, Xi tea has linked nearly 80 brands of different categories, including Maybelline, iqiyi, Okamoto and Mr. Weimeng, known as “superme in the milk tea industry”.
In July last year, Xi tea official publicity and Wuling Hongguang miniev jointly launched Wuling car with milk tea. The mini lovely pink appearance brushed the screen of major social networking websites for a time, and the topic was full.
Continuous marketing activities have brought continuous heat to Xi tea. According to statistics, since 2017, Xi tea has been searched more than 30 times, compared with Naixue tea only 5 times.
Perhaps it is out of the consideration of marketing heat that investors will give Xi tea a higher brand valuation than Naixue.
Nie Yunchen’s entrepreneurial philosophy
“The biggest difficulty in early entrepreneurship comes from anxiety. Anxiety may come from wanting to go a long way, but you find that you have only taken one or two steps.” Nie Yunchen mentioned in his public speech.
Later, he slowly realized the truth and began to believe in the 10000 hour Law: only by taking something as a habit can he resist boredom and anxiety and not be coerced by inertia.
Nie Yunchen usually spends the most time on three aspects: products, brands and operations. In his opinion, the reason why Xi tea can achieve today’s results is that the product is the starting point, the operation is the foundation, and the brand is the core.
Product is the starting point.
Many people think that tea loving products are successful by breaking social circles, but Nie Yunchen doesn’t agree with it. He said that the original intention of hi tea is to let everyone drink really good milk tea. He believes that consumers can distinguish between good and bad. Therefore, the starting point of liking tea is that products are better to drink. He doesn’t believe that bad products can be welcomed by everyone.
In order to make a good tea that everyone likes, Xi tea, like Internet companies, will try many products at the same time. What will be listed finally? Nie Yunchen will see which one has progressed to the extent that he feels he wants to share it with everyone immediately.
“If a new product is before it goes on the market, I will want to ask others whether it tastes good. Generally, this thing is 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, Xi tea won’t start publicity immediately after the new products are launched.
For Xi tea, listing is not the end of product R & D, but a node in product R & D, and even a starting point in many cases. Because only after listing will we know what feedback consumers have on this product, which is the sample size and feedback authenticity that cannot be achieved by internal test.
Therefore, in Nie Yunchen’s view, it is very important when new products are just launched. In the first few days, they will not only go on the market with a low profile, but 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 will have a life and death line. It may not be your core, but if you step on the line, the whole company may have problems. In the operation of Xi tea, food safety is a life and death line, so Xi tea attaches great importance to operation.
However, the operation capacity needs to be continuously improved with the development, and the problems encountered by different store sizes will be completely different.
The first hurdle Xi tea crossed when it started its business was the operation of its first store. At first, they had no experience in division of labor, formulation of processes, prevention of clerk stealing money, etc. later, they spent a lot of time to do a good job in the operation of that store.
Later, when opening a branch, Xi tea encountered the problem of remote expansion, involving recruitment, training of city managers and so on. Only after these problems were solved did they dare to open stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Now, Xi tea is facing new challenges. Because they cover a wider area and operate more intensive stores.
Nie Yunchen told reporters: “recently, we have taken many measures to improve the operation system, but it takes time to get results. Because of the problems encountered at this moment, it is often because some aspect was not done well a few months ago. What we do at this moment may not work until a few months later. “
Operation is a protracted war. Nie Yunchen said that they will continue to invest time and hope to do it better.
Brand is the core.
Many people think that the reason for McDonald’s success is standardization, but Nie Yunchen doesn’t agree. He thought it was the result of success, not the reason. Whether McDonald’s or Starbucks, their success must be because they had product and brand advantages in the early stage, but after decades, they 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. Originally thought it would reproduce the grand queue in Jiangmen, but the reality backfired. Nie Yunchen found that no one knew Huangcha at all. He didn’t even try it when he passed by. He began to realize that the original product was just a starting point. If they wanted to be big, they had to be a brand.
So later, Nie Yunchen attached great importance to brand building.
Up to now, Xicha brand and vision center has more than 100 employees, almost all of whom are post-90s. Employees specializing in content and new media are even mainly those born around 1996. In the first few years of Youxi tea, Nie Yunchen personally completed all the work related to brand construction. 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 adherence to brand construction.
First, the brand positioning should not be too narrow.
For example, it should not be positioned as a lifestyle brand after 95. Some people like to position in this way, which makes things smaller and smaller. The brand should be positioned in something eternal. Nie Yunchen hopes it is cool, so now the slogan who likes tea is “the tea of inspiration”.
Nie Yunchen said that the ultimate vision of Xi tea is to make tea and the culture behind tea younger, international and Internet-based, and make a symbol and brand beyond culture and region on this basis.
Secondly, the brand communication needs to do a good job in the carrier and details.
“Brand communication in the Internet age needs good content. However, the content is too empty, so we need to find a carrier to achieve better dissemination. Publicity materials are a carrier. Store space, product packaging and even fire hydrants in stores can also be regarded as carriers. ” Nie Yunchen mentioned in a speech.
Nie Yunchen believes that good brands are blunt. It influences imperceptibly, moistens things silently, and finally sets up things that will not be lost overnight.
So Nie Yunchen also attaches great importance to details. Many people who worked with him were deeply impressed by his carefulness. Ziyu, head of Xi tea brand and vision center, gave an example: Nie Yunchen personally checked the publicity materials before they went out of the street, even a typo or even the movement of a pixel.
Nie Yunchen himself once said: “our brand promotion is very detailed. For example, we should change the font of a few words on the fire hydrant in the store, because it is unified, but no one may notice it at all. It took us nine years, that is, until now, we dare to say brand. “
Write at the end
Ten years ago, Nie Yunchen was just an ignorant teenager wearing dozens of T-shirts. He once stood in a mobile phone store with more than ten square meters and worked hard for his future.
Ten years later, he became a 10 billion rich man on the same wealth list as Ma Huateng and other big men. At this time, he was at the Shenzhen headquarters of Xicha to guide the country.
In the past ten years, great changes have taken place.
The miracle of loving tea and Nie Yunchen’s growth are not only personal efforts, but also the epitome of the times.
Back in 2012, when Xi tea 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 smiled.
But now, the sound of ridicule will never appear again.
Xi tea has become a rising emerging brand.
Nie Yunchen also wrote the legend of the post-90s with his paranoid and unyielding spirit.
reference material:
1, “29 years old, 4 billion of the founder of the tea,” Zhou Jiali, the official account of investment circles, 2020.
2. “Why is tea worth 60 billion?”, Duan, the official account, “AI blue media remit”, 2021
3. Nie Yunchen, founder of happy tea: many of the reasons for our success summarized by the outside world are wrong, Lou qieqin, interface news, 2019.
4. 16 billion! The founder of Xi tea has become the richest post-90s: How handsome and golden is he, LADYLOOK, the official account, InsLady, 2020.
5. Nie Yunchen, a native of Fengcheng, Jiangxi Province, made the Hurun rich list with 4.5 billion first. He is the only post-90s who started from scratch, Fengcheng Jun, 2020.
6. How long can tea last, China Newsweek, 2017.
Author: Qiu Chuji; Source: Qiu Chuji (ID: qiuchuji 1993), reprint has been authorized. Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246);
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