In less than two years, start-up TEASCAPE weathered the global pandemic which cast millions of small businesses by the wayside, to emerge as one of the success stories for freshmen entrepreneurs in Cagayan de Oro City.
“I started Teascape in March 2020, just about when the global pandemic lockdown started,” said budding businesswoman Danica Sudaria, 23, who admits to having a hankering for milk tea and savory snacks, on top of a passion for business.
Danica is the eldest daughter of Dante M. Sudaria, president and CEO of the Sudaria Group of Publications (BusinessWeek Mindanao, Mindanao Daily and Metro Cagayan de Oro Times) and Rose Mary D. Sudaria, Ph.D., vice president for finance of the publications group. She graduated with a B.S. Tourism degree from Liceo de Cagayan University in 2019.
Did her parents approve of her going into business?
“Full paternal support for a rising beloved daughter for her to stand alone amidst the pandemic,” her father replied, recalling the couple’s struggles not quite 12 years ago when he dared to venture into his own business with BusinessWeek Mindanao, which eventually spawned two more publications, including Mindanao Daily, now Cagayan de Oro City and Northern Mindanao’s biggest newspaper that is nearing 350,000 followers in its social media page.
“I trained in Manila on how to prepare milk tea in September 2019, but didn’t start my business until January 2020 when I earned enough to have my branded milk tea included in my cousin’s café,” she said.
Two months later she set up her first stand-alone Teascape Café in Barangay Tablon, followed by another in Barangay Bugo four months later.
To ramp up business further, Danica came up with an affordable franchising scheme to share and multiply her success with other similarly minded entrepreneurs.
“I offered a franchise that was very affordable, with quality milk tea, instagrammable design, and reusable cups to keep costs down and help preserve our environment,” she said. “Now we have 12 Teascape Cafes with more coming up. Soon we will expand our milk tea menu with five other varieties of snacks.”
Next on the schedule is joining a mall expo, soon after her wedding this December.
Danica attributes the success of Teascape despite the onset of the pandemic and the crippling lockdowns even if it’s not an essential product, because people develop a hankering for their milk tea which has made it a regular feature of millennials and Gen Zs (now called Zoomers!) go-to menus whatever the time or season.
“I thought of the name Teascape from tea and escape, so that it represents something we run to for comfort during sad times, or celebration during happy ones, so Teascape is your go-to drink and place whatever, whenever the weather.”