An in-depth look at how Sackville’s newest bubble tea counter got started
If you are a university student and you have not heard about bubble tea, then you might just be from an alternate timeline. Bubble tea (also known as boba tea) is a staple in the diets of many university students and beyond. However, if you are like me and do not have a car, or you simply do not want to drive to Moncton to get bubble tea, then there is only one way to get some: go to Sip!, the bubble tea-focused beverage counter that opened in Sackville on March 21.
Sip! was created by the students in the Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation course. The 13 students in the course have designed a fully realized business in the span of 11 weeks, since the beginning of winter semester, a truly impressive feat.
“It really has been a team effort,” said Nicolas Briere, a fourth-year commerce major. “We split the class up into smaller groups, so everyone was focused on a specific task: market research, branding, etc.”
According to Briere, the first two weeks of the course were spent brainstorming different business ideas. “Originally, the idea started off as more of a food-based program,” Briere said. However, upon doing market research, they landed on the idea of bubble tea, since there is none in Sackville presently. Briere mentioned that they sent a survey out to various Sackville Facebook groups in order to gauge interest in their business and got an overwhelmingly positive response: “people seemed excited for the business, and we’re excited to be interacting with the community,” Briere said. The team of young entrepreneurs has also been getting a lot of support from the local business community as well and has received offers for potential collaborations.
“We’ve been keen to do it ourselves,” said Briere when asked if they had any outside help to create their business. They have been the ones to build relationships with individuals, support locals by using locally sourced products, create sustainable packaging, and turn the business into what it is. Currently, Sip! is going to operate as a counter, serving protein shakes, smoothies, bubble tea, and potentially a basic coffee option. However, according to Briere, there is room for growth into a wider menu, as well as some food options. Sip! is operating out of the old Pi by Crow space, 45 A Main Street, beside Bagtown Brewery, and if they expand it could lead to more seating, Briere expressed. Some individuals from the team, including Briere himself, have worked in food services before, as well as bubble tea, and are excited to put their skills to use.
When asked about what it meant to be creating this business with his class, Briere stated “it feels great to be [creating Sip!]. You develop this emotional attachment to your business.” Everyone in the class has played an equal role in setting up the business and are all considered equal shareholders.
“When the whole class went to see the space where [Sip!] was going to go, I think it made it all the more real. Because now there was a real, physical space to consolidate all of the effort that had been and will continue to be put into the business.”
When asked about how long they intend to operate the business for, Briere stated that Sip! can run as long as there is somebody willing to do it. It will run at least until the summer months and potentially further depending on how the business progresses.
“Bubble tea is something that is really close to my heart,” said Emma Yee, a second-year history major and music student. “It has been such a subtle bonding activity over the years for me through my mom and with my friends in high school.”
“While I’m very apprehensive of bubble tea if it’s made and developed by non-Asian people, I am definitely excited for it to be brought to Sackville and shared with the community here,” she continued.
Hannah Lucas, a fourth-year drama student, shared similar thoughts, “I am very excited [for Sip!]. Bubble tea is such a delicacy, and as I don’t drive, it is going to be so great to get bubble tea in town!” Lucas stated.
This is not the first time a bubble tea place has emerged in Sackville. A few years ago, the Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation course ran a bubble tea counter at The Pond, which was largely successful. According to Briere, it gave the group some assurance that their business would be popular as well. The class has also produced Sackville staples such as the Strike Club and Bagtown Brewery. Surely Sip! will become one of these as well. Be sure to visit the new hot spot when it opens; bring your friends, neighbours, and, if you can find him, Donald the cat to support these young entrepreneurs.