NSRCEL Start-up: Chaika
Chaika, an instant tea premix firm, part of the Launchpad program at NSRCEL, has used the lockdown to successfully pivot their business model.
Chaika is an instant tea premix company that makes masala chai in less than 10 seconds. It is like the Tang for Masala Chai where all you have to do is empty out the contents of a sachet int a mug, add hot water, stir and it’s ready!
The idea for chaika started when we were working in Singapore, we craved masala chai but didnt know how to make it. Even when we tried, we failed! Moreover, the process took 15-20 minutes – we just didn’t have the time in the morning! This thought made us leave us finance jobs to take the entrepreneurship route.
We also realised that people were switching over, from masala chai, the beverage they grew up with, to green tea or coffee, merely for the sake of convenience! Chai was also perceived as an uncool beverage, one that was only meant for the older generations. Our solution makes chai instant. Our solution makes chai convenient. Our solution makes chai cool again.
Tea is not a beverage that our parents grew up drinking. Tea is a sentiment. Tea has a special place in our hearts. Be it the steaming Dhaba Chai during a family road trip, or the citrus lemon tea on a railway platform, or the perfect balance of sugar and spice – the cutting chai on the streets of Bombay. With our flavours, we will transport you to your hometown, transport you to your roots, transport you to that moment of nostalgia of your childhood. Therefore our flavours are named – Bombay Cutting, Dhaba chai, Kolkata Karak (after the share market chai of my hometown calcutta) firangi chai and platform chai!
We planned our launch to coincide with Diwali 2019, to capitalize on festive gifting – being a new product with attractive quirky packaging we got a lot of sales. That enabled our tea to reach a wider audience, without distributing it out for free. When Covid-19 hit us, it was initially very hard as a bulk of our sales were from wedding planners, travellers, hotels and clubs. We held on, we pivoted, we started marketing ourselves as the perfect covid solution, and got the essential service tag. We started selling bulk packs of 100 sachets and 1kg packs for vending machines to corporates. We realised that offices were short staffed and would no longer be comfortable with calling the dhaba wala to give tea to their employees. We even sold a lot to households. This enabled Chaika even as a start-up to not bleed money during the lockdown months.
Chaika is the next step in the evolution of tea. The journey from tea leaves to tea bags was the first step that made tea more convenient. The journey to instant tea in sachets with all ingredients included in the mix, is the final step -that makes making tea even easier!
Chaika is NOT just a cup of tea in a sachet. Our USP is that we have catered to regional preferences of masala chai in India and our tea does not have a powdery taste like other instant teas in the market.
Aradhita Agarwal is a graduate of Economics at the National University of Singapore. She also studied Political Science at Science Po Grenoble and INSA Lyon, both in France. After graduating she worked in BNP Paribas Singapore for a couple of years in interest rate swaps sales before moving back to India to work in the family tea business. Her passion for tea lead her to get certified as a tea taster. In her free time she enjoys reading, cooking healthy food and long distance running.
Devanshi Kanoi Chitlangia was born and brought up in a tea family in Kolkata, she went on to Singapore (Singapore Management University) and the USA (Babson College) to study economics and finance. Post that she took the Finance route and worked as a portfolio analyst with Cambridge Associates. Her entrepreneurial spirit coupled with her love for tea made her quit her finance job to move back to India to launch Chaika. Devanshi is a fitness enthusiast, a foodie, a golfer and enjoys mentoring school kids
Learnings at NSRCEL:
Our biggest takeaway from NSRCEL is the beautiful network we have built with our batchmates. Its inspiring and a great learning experience to hear about their stories, the struggles they have faced in building their startups and also getting to know them personally. We also learnt structuring our pitch which will come in handy a few months down the line when we start looking for funding. Marketing and especially digital marketing, creating our personal brand were further sessions that really helped us. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of NSRCEL and would like to thank the team at NSRCEL for organizing such a meaningful and amazing programme, filled with such insightful sessions even in the midst of the lockdown!
Please visit https://www.chaika.in/ to know more