It’s been 4 months since I have written on tea – 4 months since I have written for my book; far too long in my opinion.
2 ½ years ago I started a company, Analytical Flavor Systems, based on my research at the Tea Institute at Penn State. It’s a journey that I’m still on. In building this company, I have had to remake myself, changing the focuses of my attention, and changing the lifestyle that I have enjoyed. Willingly, of course. I have gone from being an academic to an entrepreneur, though I have retained my predilection for academic inanities.
Building this company has increasingly required my focus and attention; it is truly only possible to have one thing ‘at the top of your mind’, one thing that resides in the forefront of your consciousness. Building a company requires attention and dedication to the process of innovation and improvement. In the early days of a company, any idea, any decision, must be tested quickly and thoroughly, least it lead the team to a dead end – and the end of the company.
At the end of last year, I transitioned away from the Directorship of the Tea Institute, and now have only an advisory role (I still administer the Tea Institute examination). I still love tea. I still practice tea ceremony, though not as often as I would like. My involvement in tea has lessened, but my passion for the practice has not waned.
Over the past 4 months, my team decided to double down and work full time (read ‘over time’) on the company. 7 of us moved into a 2 room apartment to work 13 hour days, 5 days a week on executing, testing, and iterating our technology, business plan, and customer development. Being surrounded by a team driven to meet a shared goal has enchanting properties, including super human focus, and increase productivity. It also leaves no time for personal freedom or activities. Such is what we choose to give up when building a company.
Things have calmed down a bit now. Our infrastructure and technology stack has stabilized, our customer development process has been successful, and we have all become better at what we do. That means less time is needed to execute, and we can spend more time balancing our lives and other interests.
I plan to see my company to success. I plan to see my book to completion. For the readers I have maintained, at the cost of a 4 month wait for a post only tangentially about tea, I can assure you, there will be less waiting in the future.