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High Time for Tea

For one college student, brewing up international flavor is in the bag.

Every day, Edward Lin, a student at the University of California, Riverside, heads to work at the Tapioca Express, a quick-service cafe specializing in boba tea drinks (colorful tea-based specialty drinks with tapioca balls in them) near campus. But Lin, 21, isn't just your average college student looking for extra spending money--he runs the franchise owned by his family's company, Taiwan-based Lin's Enterprise Inc.

On the three days a week Lin has class, he'll come in to the store in the morning to handle all the paperwork and accounting, then go off to his classes in the afternoon. But his day doesn't end there; he returns to the store nearly every night to take care of closing.

While balancing a business and going to school has become second nature to Lin, he wasn't completely confident in his managerial abilities when his Tapioca Express store opened last year. "I was afraid I was so young, no would listen to me," he says. "But I've done everything I can do, and it's working out just fine."

Lin plans to graduate with a degree in management next year, and he hopes to open more Tapioca Express locations in Southern California. "I've accomplished one of my personal goals in life: working in management. That's my [true] interest," he says. In the meantime, adds Lin, he's "getting a lot of experience interacting with people and learning what customers want."

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This article was originally published in the May 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: High Time for Tea.

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