Reading the Leaves: Alum Launches International Tea Business in Chicago

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August 11, 2014

By Lindsay Anderson

Ivan Gonzalez-Gimenez ‘13 accomplished a lot of entrepreneurial goals during his years at Bradley University’s Foster College of Business.  He not only won the 2012 Project Springboard competition but also took first place as an undergraduate in the 2013 Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Brave Pitch Competition.

After graduating with a degree in International Business and a minor in Business Management, Gonzalez-Gimenez began mapping out a startup company with a friend.  The growing tea industry intrigued them as a product that had great demand, was consistently trending, and showed continued growth in years to come.

Combining those findings, along with analyzing the competition and a market that was not yet oversaturated, Gonzalez-Gimenez and his friend launched Nuovo Tea, a premium loose tea company offering the highest quality tea from around the world directly to its consumers.

“Our brand was consciously built to reflect the mood of a generation and to exceed the expectations of our guests,” Gonzalez-Gimenez said.

Nuovo Tea offers its customers over 150 products and items which can be purchased at their Lombard, Illinois, store and online. They recently had a booth at the 2014 Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier in Chicago showcasing all of their merchandise. 

Additionally, stores in suburban Chicago’s Stratford Square Mall and Louis Joliet Mall are scheduled to open this fall.  In two years, Gonzalez-Gimenez hopes to have close to 20 stores open and to also be selling the Nuovo Tea product to local stores, as well.

As Gonzalez-Gimenez’s business continues to expand, he reflects on his years at Bradley and the classes that helped pave the way to his success.

“The professors that most influenced me were Dr. Gerald Hills who taught me the basics of entrepreneurship and what it takes to start a company, and Jim Foley, who introduced me to the fundamentals of international trade,” Gonzalez-Gimenez said.

The entrepreneurial road is a challenge with great rewards, and Gonzalez-Gimenez offers advice to students and others who may be interested in starting their own business.

“This business is very enduring and challenging,” Gonzalez-Gimenez remarks. “I work every day, up to 60-70 hours a week, giving it my all. You must be ready to put the time in, but in the end, for me, it has all been very rewarding.”