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10 Questions…Ted Vu, Tastea

By Rieva Lesonsky

Ted Vu, Managing Member
Name of Business: Tastea
Year founded: 2001
# Employees: 60
Location: Orange County and Los Angeles, CA
1.      What does your company do?

Tastea offers colorful and creative drinks (smoothies and flavored ice teas), as well as an extensive, exotic fruit and jelly add-on bar—setting the company apart from the competition. But Tastea wasn’t birthed overnight. More than 10 years of hard work have been invested into the company’s brand and four locations.

2.      Who manages your IT?

Currently we do not have a 3rd party IT management company. I handle most of the IT and contract out the work on Elance for any type of job that’s over my skillset.

3.      When you started, what technologies were most important to you?

Email and data storage.

4.     What challenges did working with your old technologies give you?

Data storage was shackled to a physical drive on-premises. I had to install VNC on computers that were not on-premises in order to gain access to certain files. Even then, I had to email the files to myself in order to work on the files more efficiently.

Having data storage set up in a physical location made it difficult for a typical person without the technology knowledge to jump through the [necessary] hoops to access the files and was very inefficient and cumbersome.

Even worse, our files were at risk of corruption or hard disk failures. We actually did have a hard disk failure once and lost a considerable amount of important information. We had to pay a hefty amount of money to have our files recovered and subsequently had to get multiple hard drives for multiple redundancies.

5.      When did you realize your old technologies weren’t sufficient and you needed to make changes?

We quickly realized our old technologies were not working for us when we started to hire employees and multiple people needed access to the same files. Furthermore, I did not want to give access to some employees to certain files but they were able to access them because the data was in an all-or-nothing type of access file storage system.

6.     Did you know you needed to move to the cloud? Did you have concerns about the cloud before making the move?

I knew right away many years back as soon as I heard about Microsoft Groove (yes that’s how long ago I believed in the cloud). That software was not exactly like the cloud as we know it today, but it provided the first step in what I needed to provide multiple access to files from different locations in a somewhat easy-to-use interface.

My main concerns with cloud were ease of use for my team and cost vs. benefit. Cloud services were very expensive at first and for a small business counting pennies, it takes a leap of faith to believe in the value. I had to spend my time selling the idea of cloud to my less than tech-savvy business partners.

7.      What technologies are you dependent upon now?

Cloud-based services like Sharepoint Online and Office 365,as well as communication tools like Skype for Business for online videoconferencing and inter-company chat.

8.     How has moving to the cloud helped your business?

Moving to the cloud has provided my team with a central location in which they can find the resources they need to complete their jobs. Through permission management, my team only sees what is relevant to their job functions and nothing more.

It’s also saved me more time than I could have imagined, since I travel from one location to the next quite often throughout the day and having access to all of my important files no matter where I am is invaluable.

9.     What tech challenges are you still trying to solve?

The tech challenge I am trying to solve is how I can get into easily managing and manipulating my data so that I can have a robust reporting system without having to hire a person to run reports for me. I need this so I can monitor key indicators of my business operations so that I can know where to focus my attention.

10.   Could you have started & grown your business 15 years ago, given the state of tech then and now?

I think any successful/talented entrepreneur is able to succeed given any environment. However, with the tech today I would have been able to accelerate my efficiency and in turn increase my chances of success had I had it back 15 years ago.