Bay Area teen wins entrepreneur award

May 12, 2009 7:14:27 AM PDT
A former San Leandro High School student is one of just 30 students to win a 'Global Youth Entrepreneur of the Year' award. Her product just could revolutionize tapioca pearl tea, or bubble tea. Her business concept may be one bubble that won't burst.

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Take a sip and you too might become mad about boba, also known as bubble tea, it's a tea beverage containing tapioca pearls, or jelly cubes.

"The jelly, or the boba, it brings texture, and the milk-tea is refreshing -- so the two of them together creates a really wonderful drink," said Vivian Chau, entrepreneur.

Eighteen-year old Vivian Chau is banking on building her own business around this popular drink -- it originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and quickly spread into a global phenomenon, but the drink is still largely a draw amongst Asian communities.

"We all drink this since we were younger kids and it's just a part of our culture," said Chau.

But this San Francisco State business student has goals to take the drink mainstream. She's one of 30 students worldwide awarded as a 'Global Youth Entrepreneur of the Year' by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

She came up with the idea to market jelly milk-tea during an entrepreneurship class she took before graduating last year from San Leandro High School. Teacher Deborah Reinerio helps students learn skills to turn ideas into real world business scenarios.

"I think opportunity recognition is one of the stronger lessons in this class and it's like you know, how out there, where do entrepreneurs get ideas? They solve problems," said Deborah Reinerio, entrepreneurship teacher, San Leandro High School.

And along came Vivian's business idea for "jelly it" milk-tea.

"Right now they're only using a cup that combines the two substances together, which can only last for about a day, and what I have is a unique bottle that can store for a long time," said Chau.

Vivian can't show us the actual prototype bottle yet because she's keeping it secret until she gets a product patent.

"If she can come up with a way for that to be accessible to people when they walk into like a Starbucks and see it in a counter or any grocery store, she's got a good market," said Reinerio.

"This is a business that can soar," said Chau.

Vivian welcomes potential investors to contact her at vivichau@sfsu.edu.com

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