Dai Wei, known for founding the troubled bike-sharing firm Ofo, has launched a new coffee chain in the United States named ‘About Time’ Coffee. Despite his previous venture’s demise, which left millions in unrefunded deposits owed to its users, Dai Wei is forging ahead in a new industry.
Ofo, once a pioneer in the bike-sharing space, faced significant challenges that ultimately led to its downfall. The company owed a vast amount of unrefunded deposits to its users, a debt that has been a significant point of controversy for Dai Wei. Despite this cloud over his past venture, the entrepreneur has managed to find success in his latest project.
‘About Time’ Coffee, the new coffee chain, has reportedly secured four prime locations in downtown New York and sells its signature chilled pearl coffee. The coffee chain has gained significant popularity, with its iced boba coffee becoming a trend on social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram.
During an interview, About Time CEO Marian Chen stated, “We have a model that has been proven effective in China.” She claimed that their coffee tastes better but is cheaper than Starbucks. The brand follows a similar approach to the popular Chinese coffee chain, Luckin Coffee, handling orders and payments through a mobile app while also collecting customer data to offer customized discounts and coupons.
About Time’s signature iced boba coffee is freshly prepared and sealed in a pull-tab can, selling for 4 USD, approximately a dollar cheaper than the average price of Starbucks in the U.S. To attract customers, one of the billboards outside the Gramercy Park store reads, “The first five cups are on us.”
While Dai Wei is not involved in the daily operations of About Time, Chen mentioned that he assisted in assembling the About Time team and arranged meetings with investors, acting as a unifying force for the team. She highlighted that Dai Wei holds a minority stake in the company.
Dai Wei’s latest venture has attracted substantial investment despite his controversial past. The coffee brand has raised over USD 10 million from investors and has reached a valuation of USD 40 million. Investors include IDG, ZhenFund, and Beijing Hunter Capital (an early investor of Ofo).
The entrepreneurial journey of Dai Wei—from the rise and fall of Ofo to the launch of ‘About Time’ Coffee—demonstrates his resilience and ability to innovate across industries. As ‘About Time’ continues to grow, it will be interesting to see how Dai Wei navigates the coffee industry and whether he can put the controversies of his past behind him
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