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Ratan Tata-backed tea co eyes global retail foray


Kolkata: If all goes well in this economic recovery phase, premium online tea platform Teabox will make a global offline retail foray by the end of the year. The renowned tea startup, backed by marquee venture capital firms such as Accel Partners, RB Investments, NB Ventures and Ratan Tata, is witnessing a 215% jump in demand, and plans go for the next level of funding at the “right time”.
“With the rise in demand for high-quality tea, we are excited to take the experience to the next level through brick-n-mortar retail arena. We are looking forward to a low-key aesthetic entry and are talking to some partners with relevant experience in the same. We have experienced tremendous success with our pilots at Bengaluru/Mumbai Airports and are confident of the experience that can be scaled up,” Kausshal Dugarr, founder and CEO, Teabox, told TOI. By 2022, the company will set up around 20 tea lounges worldwide on a 100% ownership basis.
Teabox, through multiple levels of funding, has reportedly raised over $10million so far.
Asked about the firm’s prospect in 2021-22, Dugarr said, “There will be attractive price realisation this year; particularly with a lot of foreign buyers in popular EU and the US destinations placing advance orders. During the Covid 19-induced lockdown phase, Teabox had witnessed a fall in demand of 50-60%, but we continued taking orders.”
The Bengaluru-based tea startup has exuded enough confidence in changing the century-old practices in tea logistics and cut down on the time taken for fresh tea leaves to reach customers. “This is our USP. As we have our warehouse based in Siliguri, the epicentre of tea trade in north India. I have cut down on the time taken to handle logistics to 15 days and that has helped in keeping intact the taste and aroma of garden-fresh leaves,” added Dugarr, a fourth-generation tea entrepreneur.
According to the graduate from SMU (Singapore), presence of too many intermediaries, lack of proper management practices and paucity of vision have been plaguing the century-old industry. “I wanted to de-commoditize the tea business in order to get an edge over others.”
Currently, Teabox sells 40% of its products in the US, 20-25% in Russia and the rest in the UK, Australia and other European countries. “We have become profitable and cash flow positive and that gives us an opportunity to be selective in our partners in our next journey of growth” he said.
Talking on premiumisation of tea, Dugarr clarified that the company doesn’t have a producer’s mindset or the mass market as its target group.


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