We all need a little pick-me-up in the morning. It may be a bowl of porridge brimming with fruit and honey, or something a little more decadent like a sugar-crusted croissant. But for most, a piping hot cup of coffee is always present. Then maybe another. Oh okay, one more cup.
Anyone will know this is where things go downhill – the jittery feeling, the post-lunch crash, and of course, nuclear breath.
Marisa Poster and brothers, Teddie and Levi Levenfiche, all of whom worked long hours in finance and were particularly reliant on coffee and energy drinks, grew tired of the inevitable comedown.
This is where PerfectTed – an all-natural, matcha-based energy drink – was born. We spoke with Levi and Teddie about the PerfectTed journey so far, and how they’re using Xero to bring matcha energy to the masses.
It’s fair to say that Levi, Teddie and Marisa earn their caffeine hits each morning. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Teddie moved into the world of management consulting while Levi turned to real estate. Marisa, meanwhile, worked in private equity.
Teddie says, “We were working really tough hours, drinking coffee and energy drinks to keep us awake. We needed a better solution because we were tired of the jitters and the crashes, which is when we made the switch to matcha. It felt amazing.”
Matcha, a powdered form of green tea first enjoyed by eighth century Zen Buddhists, is an organic, antioxidant-rich, clean-caffeine alternative to coffee. While matcha was readily available in the US, a look across the pond yielded disappointment, and then opportunity: good matcha was hard to find.
Levi explains: “In the UK, we were surprised that there were no convenient, ready-to-drink matcha options available. Everything tasted quite bitter, was full of additives, and used poor quality matcha.”
After many months sourcing the right ingredients and perfecting their recipe to ensure there was no compromise on taste or quality, the team launched the UK’s first matcha energy drink as a concept on Kickstarter. This project was funded in under 23 hours and was recognised by Kickstarter as a ‘Project we Love’.
Levi continues, “We all moved back to the UK, and since launching, the business has gone from strength to strength.”
Growing with Xero
After reaching their Kickstarter goal and seeing first-hand the level of demand they were facing, the team knew they needed the right tools to be able to scale.
Teddie says, “While we all come from finance backgrounds, we don’t have accounting experience. We started working with a bookkeeper (shoutout to Kaj), who recommended Xero – we signed up, played with it, and now we’re obsessed with the platform.”
The team explains that they’re using Xero to manage everything from recurring expenses in advertising, to invoicing and other complex revenue and expense items.
Levi adds, “Xero has made accountancy fun. As business owners we have to worry about a lot – supply chains, rising costs, customers – but accountancy isn’t a stress in our lives. We’ve been on a journey with Xero to grow our business, using the platform to process our first ever invoice from a single cafe in London. This hasn’t changed even though we’re now selling to major retailers globally.”
And being able to use Xero on-the-go has become vital for PerfectTed.
“We’ll be on the train and reconciling transactions,” Teddie explains. “We can easily figure out where we’re at as a business, pulling Profit & Loss reports on our phones in seconds. That immediacy, and the visual nature of Xero, is amazing.”
Sustainability is key
For the PerfectTed team, sustainability has always been an important consideration when building the company.
Teddie and Levi explain that there are many aspects to sustainability, but there is typically very little transparency and traceability when it comes to matcha and coffee. They were adamant about knowing and showing customers where the matcha is coming from, and ensuring the farmers are treated well.
PerfectTed has also committed, amongst other initiatives, to give 1% of its sales to nonprofits protecting our planet. In addition to taking strides towards being carbon neutral, offsetting carbon emissions through tree-planting programs, PerfectTed drinks are packaged in aluminium cans, with even more recyclable packaging in the works.
Teddy says, “Our mission is to drive positive change in how our products are made, sold and consumed. We’re just getting started, and there’s much more to come.”
Teddie and Levi share their tips for other small business owners looking to take the next step forward.
“Get on Xero immediately, and really get to grips with it,” Teddie says. “This will help you manage and understand your business. We know the ins and outs of every expense line, because we took the time to know the platform.”
Levi continues, “Cash flow is really important, so make sure you’re aware of customer payment terms and timing. We track everything in Xero and have notifications in place so we’re really good at following up with those who owe money.”
The team also explains the importance of having professional accountants supporting them. Teddie adds, “They check our work before it’s submitted to HMRC, which is super helpful, specifically on end of year accounts. Using Xero as a single source of truth for ourselves and our accountants really helps, and their role as advisors is invaluable (thanks to Ben and Howard at Gerald Edelman).”
The future of PerfectTed
Finally, we look at what the future holds for PerfectTed. Levi says, “We are working to be the leading natural energy brand globally by providing customers with a cleaner, greener energy full of functional benefits.”
Teddie concludes, “We know there will be a lot of challenges ahead, but we’re excited to tackle them with Xero at our side.”