7 Nov 2017, 09:30 — 7 min read
Chai, found at every street corner and in every home, might just be the quintessentially Indian drink. Only recently has the nation began to discover the virtues of drinking green tea or partaking of flower teas. Sandeep Kotecha, Founder-Director of The Kettlery, a self-professed lover of loose-leaf teas wishes to introduce gourmet loose leaf teas from around the world to the Indian milieu.
The company is gaining quite a reputation in the world of tea in India and won the award for “Most Innovative Tea Café of the Year 2017” given out by the Indian Restaurant Congress. Sandeep aims to make Kettlery the first global Indian specialty tea brand known for world class quality and design and his roped in ace shooter Abhinav Bindra as their brand ambassador.
In conversation with GlobalLinker, (GL) Sandeep Kotecha (SK) shares the story of his company. Watch this video to learn more:
GL: Tell us about your business and how it came into being.
SK: The Kettlery is a specialty retailer and gourmet food brand focusing on premium teas, tea accessories, designer tea sets, gourmet foods and tea infused beverages.
I grew up drinking the classic Indian Masala Chai in Gujarat, India, and was always amazed at the importance drinking Chai held in social gatherings of any kind. After completing my graduate studies, I was fortunate to work for a large tea retailer in the United States for a few years, where I was exposed to the world of fine tea. I learned about loose leaf teas sourced from across the globe - from India, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and numerous other countries - and developed an appreciation for the aromatic, visually striking, and flavourful liquor that premium loose leaf teas can produce when brewed using the right techniques or blended with the right ingredients. I realised that although tea was one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, its culture could be very local, and most tea-drinkers were not aware of the multitudes of tea varieties and combinations that exist.
It struck me that although Masala Chai has enjoyed a cult status in India, there is a lot more the world of premium loose leaf teas can offer. The endless possibilities of creating exotic blends inspired by global flavours excited me, and since I belonged to a family that had several decades of experience in agribusiness, I decided to come back to India and start The Kettlery in order to share my passion for specialty loose leaf teas and the ways they can be paired with fine foods to create memorable culinary experiences.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
SK: I moved back to India in 2014 after living in the US for 8 years so most of my business network was over there. The key challenges we faced in the early years was not having a strong business network in India, lesser product awareness of premium teas, access to capital and finding strategic partners to expand the business.
Real estate prices in the country also remain a key challenge to expand our retail footprint
GL: Do you believe that the ‘ease of doing business’ in India has improved?
SK: Since we are based out of Gujarat, certifications and compliance related problems were lesser than some other markets. Most of the government portals are centralised now making it simpler to comply compared to archaic practices that were followed earlier. Company registration and tax/business IDs have become easier in the last few years. The government is also taking steps to reduce compliance burden on newer companies.
Moreover, there is a lot that need to be done to build more accountability and transparency in government compliance related matters. “Ease of doing business” can further improve if citizens are equally driven to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
SK: Product design, sourcing and innovation. We are one of the few tea brands in India offering premium teas and tea related products that integrate with the urban lifestyle of Indian consumers. Most of our products are European Union compliant making us world class in terms of quality.
We have over 75 different kinds of tea blends from across the world making us a dream destination for tea lovers. Our accessories and proprietary designer tea sets set us apart as a pioneer product focused tea brand.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
SK: Our brand was endorsed by Olympics shooter and Gold Medalist Abhinav Bindra because of our focus on health and wellness. This also resulted into a partnership with Mr. Bindra’s venture fund shooting star sports LLP in Oct 2016. Recently, Mumbai based celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani also joined our team as a culinary partner. These endorsements are a testament to the growing potential of The Kettery brand in the tea lifestyle space.
We also received “Most Innovative Tea Café of the Year 2017” award by Indian Restaurant Congress 2017 earlier this year.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting & assisting SMEs?
SK: There is a very strategic need to build a SME ecosystem in India that helps in finding the right resources and capital to grow the business. GlobalLinker plays a key role in bridging that gap by providing a strong platform where SMEs can come together to build their individual ecosystems which collectively leads to the benefit of all parties involved.
GL: What is your big business dream?
SK: To be the first global Indian specialty tea brand known for world class quality and design.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
SK: 'There is no black and white in business. You need to be comfortable working in grey areas where you have to take tough decisions under uncertainty.'
"You cannot get into business for the fashion of it" – Azim Premji
'If you have the right product and intention, capital will come.'
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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