To open up a successful and popular teashop in Vilnius city center would be a pretty challenging goal for anybody. Especially, when you are offering a very authentic product from a different part of the world, which have never been introduced to Lithuania’s market before. In 1980’s Tapioca balls and authentic flavors of milk tea were mixed together in the island of Taiwan and called bubble tea, which now is one of the most popular and delicious Taiwanese treasures worldwide. Few months ago it has been introduced to Lithuanian market for the first time. Two innovative and open minded guys Jeffrey Lin and Eividas Petrulis managed to overcome all the obstacles and join together in forming a mutual vision of Formosa Bubble teashop.
Taiwan is on the other side of the world from Lithuania, what is the story behind opening innovative teashop in Vilnius? How was this idea born and what was the main reason that you chose Lithuania?
My business partner is actually from Vilnius, we met each other in university in California. Our friend group was very international, so we used to pick up all kinds of food from different parts of the world. Therefore, Bubble tea was part of it. Taiwanese cuisine was definitely on the list. We discussed more after university and that’s how we decided to introduce the products to Lithuania’s market.
Do you miss hot and wet Taiwan’s climate while living in the cooler side of Europe? What do you miss the most from your homeland?
I’ve been living abroad for 10 years now, things i miss from home the most are definitely my Family, friends and food, of course. Weather is not my main concern but i do sometimes miss the tropical climate.
What do you like the most in Lithuania? Do you consider Lithuania as a possible place to live or is it too cold for you here?
I like the vibe from the people and the city. People here are very easy going and friendly. I really like that. I’ll definitely consider Lithuania as one of the possible place to live for a long term.
Is there a big demand for authentic Taiwanese bubble tea among Lithuanians?
Not really a big demand during winter time. I think, bubble tea is more of a cold drink. So we would like to see if the demand goes up in summer, meanwhile, we will do our best to reach out to more people.
A teashop can be seen as a cozy place to meet new people. Have you had an opportunity to make some Lithuanian friends? What are the major differences between Taiwanese and Lithuanians?
I have had some opportunities to make friends with locals, but mostly outside of work place. It’s really hard to point out the main differences between the two, but I would say that both, Taiwanese and Lithuanian people are outgoing and very down to earth.
You started your business hand in hand with Eividas Petrulis. What best features could you point out of Lithuanians as business partners?
Eividas is a very responsible person, that’s the best and the main feature of him as business partner, but i think that it has more to do with personality over nationality, so I can’t say the same about all Lithuanians.
How long did it took to open Formosa bubble teashop? Was it hard to open it in Vilnius city center in bureaucratic aspect? What strangest or the most interesting situation of all could you point out?
From setting the company up to open the shop it took us about 9 months. It wasn’t hard but it does take a lot of time. For the most part, I think, some officials should ask for documents they need all at once instead of many times.
For a teashop to last for a long period of time is a pretty challenging goal, especially in Lithuania’s dynamic market. What do you think is Formosa bubble teashop’s forte?
Having me and my partner’s international vision, our passion for food, and only using original ingredients from Taiwan are definitely Formosa Bubble Tea’s forte. We will introduce more flavors and food soon too.
What are your major competitors here, in Lithuania?
Ourselves. That’s the only way to improve.
If your friend from Taiwan would like to start business in Lithuania, what advice could you give to him/her?
Learn the language before moving will definitely make your adventure smoother.
Have you thought about expanding your business? Or having a popular place in the center of Lithuania’s capital is enough for now?
If our business goes on the right track then we would love to have more spots open in the future. As for now, we are trying to work on catering and maybe even delivery.
If you had an opportunity, would you do something differently about your business?
Never thought of that, I’m actually happy with everything the way it is.
Interviewer: Vaiva Sriubaitė
Photos taken by Vaiva Sriubaite, also used from a personal Jeffrey Lin’s archive.