(Yicai Global) May 16 -- Dai Wei, the controversial founder of failed Chinese bike-sharing firm Ofo which still owes millions in unrefunded deposits, has opened a new coffee chain in the United States, news portal Ifeng.com reported today.
About Time Coffee has a business model similar to Luckin Coffee as it allows customers to place orders via mobile apps. The new venture also offers boba coffee, a beverage with tapioca balls that has recently become popular. Its boba coffees cost from USD6 to USD7, while its standard coffees are priced from USD3 to USD6.
The US boba milk tea market is worth USD640 million, which is expected to grow to USD2.2 billion within a decade, according to a report published by Fortune Business Insights.
About Time Coffee’s Instagram account already has 14,000 followers and more than 500 posts. Prior to his latest entrepreneurial move, Dai opened a startup leasing power banks in Seattle.
About Time Coffee has raised over USD10 million for a valuation of USD40 million, insiders familiar with the matter said, adding that the company is supported by bug Chinese venture capital firms including Zhen Fund and IDG Capital’s China unit.
Investors will be hoping About Time Coffee does not suffer the same fate as Ofo, which drew massive backing from tech giants including Alibaba and was once valued at USD2 billion. Ofo ceased trading in 2018 after its business model failed and funding dried up.
The company still owes deposits in excess of CNY1 billion (USD143.5 million) to 16 million previous users, according to a report in Guangming Daily. Chinese courts have also placed Dai on a blacklist of unreliable debtors.
Editor: Tom Litting