A management information systems major, Class of 2002, Nguyen, 24, had found a good job in her field. But she wanted to be her own boss. So one day when she was unable to find her favorite beverage at a local Chinese restaurant, she got the idea of opening her own. The result is the Bubble Tea Hut, located on Route 70 in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Bubble tea is a traditional Taiwanese concoction, a tea-based beverage that gets it name from the addition of tapioca grains that look like bubbles. The drink also includes milk, sugar, and a choice of colored syrups in exotic flavors.
Nguyen, whose parents are from Viet Nam, says she financed the venture by taking a second mortgage on her home. She says her NJIT education gave her the confidence to take the risk. "I give NJIT's Educational Opportunity Program a lot of credit for shaping who I am today by giving me the discipline I needed and the determination and motivation to start such a venture," Nguyen says.
She and a partner picked Cherry Hill because many Asians live in the area, which is within commuting distance of Philadelphia.
In addition to bubble tea, the cafe-style restaurant also serves sandwiches and Vietnamese-style hoagies. It is already a popular place for young people to spend time, with an ambience that features board games and popular music.
always is positioning the restaurant as center for Asian culture--but also for non-Asians who appreciate what that culture has to offer. For instance, the Bubble Tea Hut last week held a Lantern Festival for 2004 Chines New Year. Customers were invited to buy raffle tickets for a chance to win one of the lanterns.
One of the lessons she learned was that in a new business venture, it pays to be flexible.
"Never put your heart on a certain date to open up a business because things will always happen that delay the process. I was supposed to open by the summer but it never did until October. No matter how hard I pushed and shoved, it didn't happen but made things worse," she says.
Drawing on the lessons learned, Nyugen--with the help and backing of her family--hopes to take Bubble Tea Hut to the next level. "I'm think of opening up in the malls to have a greater exposure for future franchising," Nyugen says.