Would you tell us about CHAIKA (Vision and Mission)?
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 one has to do is empty the contents of a sachet into a mug, add hot water, stir and it’s ready! We have now diversified our product line with a range of instant iced teas which dissolve directly in cold water and are in the process of launching a range of tea-time snacks.
We are a D2C brand retailing through our website www.chaika.in and through other e-commerce channels – Amazon, Big Basket, Flipkart, LBB, etc. We are also retailing through modern trade stores such as Foodhall and select premium general trade grocery stores. Our brand has expanded globally and we are exporting to Singapore (www.chaika.sg) and UAE.
We are incubated by IIM Bangalore’s NSRCEL and are an all-woman partnership, MSME, Startup India Registered entity. Our vision is to become a household FMCG brand with global recognition.
How do you stay on top of changes in the process, changes in thought of industries that you are going to look at more now?
Being from families that have been into tea, we are always in tune with developments in the industry. Our network of tea tasters and experts has helped us build a product with high-quality ingredients and premium taste. We constantly stay in touch with our customers and value their feedback immensely. This enabled us to launch our flavor profile – Bombay Cutting, Dhaba, Kolkata Kadak, Platform Chai, etc keeping the regional preferences in mind.
As we look at the tea industry we believe that instant tea is the next step in the evolution of tea. Teabags made tea convenient, but the 3-1 sachet is the next move. Moreover, we see a huge potential for other pantry gourmet foods and are soon expanding our product range.
What inspires you to come up with CHAIKA?
The idea for chaika started when we were working in Singapore. We craved masala chai but didn’t 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 our finance jobs to take the entrepreneurship route. Devanshi and Aradhita are part of families that have been in the tea business for over 70 years and we have both worked there to get a first-hand experience of the industry. Aradhita is also a certified Tea Taster.
We realized other professionals, students, travelers, and corporate office staff must be facing the same issue. We also realized 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! This is what made us want to launch masala teas into a more convenient format!
Why choose CHAIKA?
Our USP is that we cater to the regional preferences of masala chai in India. 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 flavors, we will transport you to your hometown, transport you to your roots, transport you to that moment of nostalgia of your childhood. Therefore our flavors are named, Bombay Cutting, Dhaba chai, firangi chai, Kolkata Karak (after the share market chai of my hometown Calcutta) platform chai, and diet chai.
We have tested the product out with over 10,000 customers, over 25 corporate offices, and got accepted by clubs such as The Royal Calcutta Golf Club and hotels such as Hyatt Regency Kolkata. Another USP of the product is the taste, it tastes like your Ghar ki chai and does not have the powdery mouthfeel of a premix.
As we are expanding our product range, we won’t keep the same ethos in mind and try and promote the “Indian-ness’ of our products in a cool and convenient manner
What are your views on today’s industry scenario? What is your strategy to reach new industries and new customers?
Our target market for Chaika would-be professionals, travelers, corporates, students, and homemakers who want chai on the go. Our past traction has shown that we can target both men and women, between the ages of 18-60. In terms of geographical location, our target would be Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in India as well as countries with a predominant NRI population
As we increase our product portfolio into tea time snacks with a healthy twist, we believe that we would increase brand awareness with a wider product range and expand our target market size.
Explain the CHAIKA – Founder/ CEO’s journey to date, and how CHAIKA tackled any initial struggles?
Aradhita Agarwal is a graduate of Economics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). Upon graduation, she worked as an Interest Rate Swaps trader with BNP Paribas in Singapore and then moved back to work with her family business that is in the field of tea: Ellenbarrie and Karala Valley Tea Estates. She is also an experienced tea taster. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, and trying out different cuisines.
Devanshi Chitlangia has a dual major in Economics and Finance from Singapore Management University. She also studied entrepreneurship at Babson College, the USA for a semester. Post her graduation, she worked as a portfolio analyst with Cambridge Associates in Singapore and soon left the same to work for her family tea estates- Panbari and Hoograjuli Tea. In her free time, she enjoys food, fitness, and traveling.
When Covid-19 hit us, it was initially very hard as a bulk of our sales were from wedding planners, travelers, hotels, and clubs. Being a startup it was difficult to sustain our fixed expenses while in lockdown. 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 corporations. We realized 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 mon.
What will you suggest to our readers to achieve success in their desired field?
Work Work and Hard Work! We strongly believe that hard work is the mantra to success and have juggled roles from sitting for days at the FSSAI office to calling online customers to manage social media. We push ourselves to constantly connect with people and learn!
|Year of Founding||2019|
|Funding Information||Bootstrapped by Founders|
|Funding Members:||Devanshi Kanoi Chitlangia & Aradhita Agarwal Kedia|