Tealet is composed of a diverse team with one common goal: to create a bridge between tea growers and tea drinkers.
Founder, Elyse Petersen and Cofounder, Jane Gonsowski learned about the infinite opportunity for a Hawaii Grown Tea Industry while co-authoring a collaborative research study between the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Tea Project and the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship: Hawaii Grown Tea: A Market Feasibility Study.
After completing this report they looked at a variety of business models that would help develop a healthy industry in Hawaii. During this time Elyse did an internship on a tea farm in Kyoto where she started to develop a network of tea growers around the world that face similar issues as tea growers in Hawaii. Tealet was born when Founder Elyse Petersen pitched the idea at Startup Weekend Honolulu on April 28, 2012.
This event was a great launching point to put their passion of empowering tea farmers towards a viable business model. Petersen and Startup Weekend team members Travis Ryan and Viil Lid impressed the judges so much that they took home 2nd place. Since this event Jane and Elyse built a marketplace, launched a subscription service, participated in Batch 5 of the 500 Startups accelerator program, and launched a wholesale auction. The team now includes a web developer and new media director.
Elyse Petersen - Founder/CEO
Elyse Petersen is a Global Tea Ambassador with the International Tea Farms Alliance. She has spent time working with tea farmers in Wazuka, Kyoto, Japan. This experience has inspired her to help tea culture across the U.S. and around the world. Petersen is an experienced international development worker in the area of food security, natural resource management, and sustainable food preservation, having served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa and Antigua and Barbuda, Eastern Caribbean.
Elyse graduated from Shidler College of Business with a Japan-focused M.B.A and from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a B.S. in Food Science and Technology. You can learn about Elyse's passion for collaboration in this talk she gave at TEDx Honolulu: A Mango in the Sun.
Michael Petersen - Marketing/New Media Director
Michael Petersen graduated with a B.A. in Communications from the University of Hawaii, Manoa but has developed as a media producer. He has designed sophisticated integrated communications solutions for military, schools, and corporations. His passion is storytelling through media, especially through the use of new and social media. Also an Eagle Scout, Michael understands the value of community and collaboration.
Jie (Jane) Gonsowski - Cultural Consultant
Jie (Jane) Gonsowski is a class of 2012 full-time MBA graduate at the University of Hawaii's Shidler College of Business. She is originally from Shanghai, China and obtained a B.S. in Computer Science at the University of Shanghai in 1997. Prior to entering the MBA program, Jie had 11 years of work experience in the information technology development for different organizations in China, Germany and the U.S. Her responsibilities covered business analysis, system development and service management. She can speak Chinese, English and German. As a long time tea consumer and tea heritage advocate, she is passionate about promoting tea culture in the U.S. and helping tea growers optimize their economic value.
Cody Moniz - Web Developer
Cody Moniz is a web developer with exceptional experience in creating online applications for business needs. Cody has 3 years of experience as a manager at Hawaiian Airlines, and has been programming since the days of MS-DOS. He has many years of experience programming in Ruby, Python, and PHP, and utilizes MVC patterns with an agile development path.
Tea Fairy - Logistics Manager
The Tea Fairy is a magical blessing that has recently joined the Tealet team. She absolutely loves tea and is friends with many tea farmers around the world. She has taken the position of Logistics Manager with Tealet. Her responsibilities include but are not limited to flying to tea farms, collecting the leaves, and bringing them directly to your door. She is energized by TEA!