INTO Success: the bubble tea shop entrepreneur
INTO Success is our new blog series showcasing the achievements of INTO graduates. They’re a talented bunch with plenty of advice to share with you – prepare to be inspired.
And who better to provide that inspiration than Ryan Wen? Ryan, an INTO UEA graduate from China, opened Bliiz, the first bubble tea and frozen yoghurt shop in Norwich.
INTO’s Rachel Watkins caught up with him for an interview…
Name: Wen Yang (Ryan)
INTO course: Graduate Diploma in Political, Social and International Studies
Degree programme: BA Film and Television Studies, University of East Anglia
Why did you decide to open the first bubble tea shop in Norwich?
I like making drinks, it’s what I’m really into. I also wanted to see whether I could manage a business. It’s been exciting, I’ve made all the decisions myself and created the recipes.
How did you get started?
The development stage took four months – I did market research, wrote a business plan, found a location and had the interior designed. Then I developed the recipes – that was the fun part as I got to be really creative.
What do you do in a typical day?
As well as the day-to-day management of Bliiz, I also have to negotiate with suppliers, develop new marketing strategies, and update the Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Who are your main customers?
My customers are 80% female, probably due to the appearance of my shop. Some are local, some are tourists and many are from the university. Most people seem to like it but some think the idea of bubble tea is crazy!
Why did you decide to study abroad?
After I finished my BA in China three years ago, I decided to study Film and Television in the UK. I chose UEA as it has a good degree programme. But firstly, I did a Graduate Diploma at INTO UEA to improve my English and academic skills.
How did your INTO course prepare you for running Bliiz?
My INTO course helped me to develop both my English skills and my research skills. This was really helpful when I was doing market research for my business.
What did you like best about studying at a UK university?
The teaching styles are quite different from China – I like that you’re encouraged to work independently. Also, as an international student, I was exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. This has made me a more open-minded person.
What’s the best thing about living in the UK?
The environment is nice and Norwich is really beautiful. Also, I like the culture of creativity and independent thinking – I feel that this is the right place for me.
What’s the secret to a successful business?
Well, to be honest, this is a new business so I’ve made mistakes so far! But I think you have to sell the right thing at the right location. Also, get the marketing right – the cheapest way is via social networking. Then you need to find the right staff and offer good customer service – be friendly and get to know your regulars. Finally, you have to be brave.
What advice would you give to an international student with a dream they want to pursue?
If you want to succeed in your country of study, then befriend the locals – you’ll improve your language skills and it’s also useful for networking. Don’t spend all your time hanging out with people from your home country. Also, get a part-time job to gain experience. Just make friends with everybody and don’t be afraid!
Inspired by Ryan’s story? Find out more about studying at INTO University of East Anglia.
Aiming for success? Find out how to boost your CV though part-time work, volunteering and extra-curricular activities. Or read advice from our INTO expert on how to make your CV stand out from the pile.
Blitz is now closed, however you can still buy bubble tea from the campus cafe or from Chatime 13 Dove Street, NR2 1 DE.