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Tastea—an innovative beverage retailer in Orange County, California, primes for growth by replacing Google Docs and Dropbox with Microsoft Office 365, establishing a flexible set of tools that helps increase both productivity and professionalism. We recently spoke with Ted Vu, co-founder of Tastea, to get the details.
We opened our doors in September 2001 with the goal of mixing the flavors of the East and West, providing tea/juice blends and bubble teas in a fun atmosphere. Today, we have three locations with a fourth store underway, and we’re branching out into franchises soon, too.
Q: Why did you want to move to cloud-based services?
When we started the company, my business partner and I already knew that we wanted to scale it out. We worked to create systems (recipes, store procedures, etc.) and looked for technologies that could help us give customers the same experience across all our stores. We didn’t want to grow too fast without the infrastructure to support our success.
We were using Google Docs, Dropbox, and some other free software, but you get what you pay for.
We really felt the pinch when we opened our second store—we knew we needed to upgrade from all our ad hoc, free software to a real business-class solution. For one thing, any business that’s serious about their brand needs their own domain. Using Google Docs prevented any of us from opening and changing documents using our “@tastea.net” accounts, so we were forced to log out and log back on using Gmail, which slowed us all down.
Q: Why did you choose Microsoft Office 365?
Office 365 is in a completely different class than Google—it’s more intuitive, and all the different things that we need to do are centralized into one place, with one logon and one comfortable environment. We wanted to remove the roadblocks for ourselves and our team members, which meant no more multiple email accounts, signing onto various websites to get services, non-secured document exchanges and downloads, etc.
Aside from the integrated email, calendaring, and document sharing that we get with Office 365, we also get a reliable company standing behind us. Let’s face it, Microsoft is a huge name in the IT world, and I had few reservations making a move to Office 365.
Q: How has Office 365 changed the way people work at Tastea?
I feel as though Office 365 is making a positive impact on almost every facet of our business. For instance, we used to use Google Hangouts [formerly Google Talk] as a kind of conferencing solution, but that backfired because our staff could talk with anyone, not just their team members, and spent time chatting with their friends about non-work-related stuff. Also, Google Hangouts isn’t integrated with Microsoft Office. It wouldn’t let you share your desktop and documents, which meant that every time that we had a problem with a store PC or some other IT-related issue, I had to physically drive up to an hour away to fix it. Now we use Microsoft Lync Online for a lot of collaboration, especially across store locations. For example, if there’s an IT issue, I just log on and fix it from wherever I am, which saves a lot of time. We also use Lync Online to hold monthly virtual meetings with all the store managers, so they don’t waste time in the car. Having that web conferencing capability will be even more important as we expand.
Q: What other benefits are you seeing from Office 365?
Office 365 makes us nimbler and able to react faster and more consistently. Plus, after we moved to Office 365, I noticed right away how much happier and more motivated everyone is. We’re getting twice the number of projects done, store managers have fewer questions and therefore more time to manage their locations rather than calling me, and there’s far less frustration among team members because they no longer feel like they’re being left in the dark.
Making the move to Office 365 was a no-brainer. I couldn’t believe how inexpensive it was for us to give all our team members full access to everything. Seriously, I didn’t have to think about price for a second. We feel as though we’re just at the tip of the iceberg—there’s so much out there that we can use to benefit Tastea.