entrepreneur  |  MAY 05, 2017  |  By: Entreprenur India

35 UNDER 35 SPECIAL - THE GAME CHANGERS OF 2017

Siliguri is a laid-back town and e-commerce and start-ups are not a regular feature, that’s where Kaushal Dugar made the dent. Teabox is delivering freshness by reducing production to consumer time, which is typically three...

Siliguri is a laid-back town and e-commerce and start-ups are not a regular feature, that’s where Kaushal Dugar made the dent. Teabox is delivering freshness by reducing production to consumer time, which is typically three to -six months to a week or even lesser. In the past four years, it has shipped over 40 million cups worth of teas to customers in over 100 countries. Teabox went on to raise over seven million from investors like JAFCO Asia, Accel Partners, Keystone Group LP and Dragoneer Investment Group, Ratan Tata, Cameron Jones. Kaushal proudly shares, “We are highly profitable on units economy basis.”

 

beverage daily  |  MAY 05, 2017  |  By: Rachel Arthur

FROM TEA BAG TECHNOLOGY TO SPEEDY SHIPPING: START-UP’S MISSION TO PROVIDE THE BEST FRESH TEA

Teabox – an Indian premium tea e-commerce start-up – has made it its mission to deliver ‘the freshest cup of tea’ to consumers worldwide. From the technology behind the tea bags to the speediest shipping...

Teabox – an Indian premium tea e-commerce start-up – has made it its mission to deliver ‘the freshest cup of tea’ to consumers worldwide. From the technology behind the tea bags to the speediest shipping methods, the company says it can now get its products from tea plantation to teapot within a week. https://www.beveragedaily.com/Markets/Teabox-on-delivering-premium-fresh-tea-to-the-world.

times of india  |  MAY 05, 2017  |  By:

Aparna Desikan & Anand J

IN FIRST FLUSH, TEA STARTUPS AIM FOR PERFECT BREW

BENGALURU/CHENNAI: Bala Sarda grew up around tea — not just because it's the beverage of choice for most Indians, but he was raised in the estates of Darjeeling. where his family has been in the...

BENGALURU/CHENNAI: Bala Sarda grew up around tea — not just because it's the beverage of choice for most Indians, but he was raised in the estates of Darjeeling. where his family has been in the business for eight decades. A few years ago, Sarda realised that tea was only exported in bulk, and there were no home grown.

"India grew some of the best teas but the industry was dependent on foreign brands to sell their product. I wanted to crack that and create an indigenous brand and take it to the world," says Sarda, 25, who started Vahdam Teas in April 2015. He delivers garden-fresh teas to over 10,000 customers in 76 countries, with the US being the top market. India contributes close to 10% of the total business. While giants such as Tata and Hindustan Unilever sell tea to the majority, startups are trying to create a market, both in India and abroad, for home-grown brands from estates in Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiris. These are mostly loose leaf teas, preferred by connoisseurs, and are a premium segment compared to the CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea that a majority of Indian tea drinkers prefer. What sets his 100% online business apart, says Sarda, is the guarantee of delivery in four days. "If you order tea today, it's most likely what we send you was harvested less than a week ago," says Sarda. "By eliminating middlemen, we are not only able to make available garden fresh high quality teas at lower prices, but are also able to retain all earnings in the region where these teas are grown." Vahdam Teas has raised Rs 4.4 crore ($650,000) from early-stage investment firm Fireside Ventures' Kanwaljit Singh, Mumbai Angels and Singapore Angel Network. Serial entrepreneur K Ganesh says the opportunity to create Indian brands is huge and the space is wide open. "These are regularly consumed products and create a brand loyalty that will stay for years," says Ganesh, who has invested in food-delivery startup Freshmenu through his firm GrowthStory and made a personal angel investment in beverage startup DropKaffe. "There is a dearth of Indian brands in the food and beverage segment." He's quick to point out that these are not food-tech startups, but startups enabled by technology. "Ultimately, technology will not help them serve good food and beverages," he says. Nitin Saluja, co-founder of Delhi-based Chaayos, says technology is the backbone of the company but they can't be labelled food-tech. "We look at serving the customer and how we can make them give us repeat orders," he says. Saluja explains that technology helps them personalise offerings, reduce wastage and predict demand cycles. "Our core business is chai." More than 80% of its customers are walk-ins and the rest order online. Chaayos, he says, it is making operational profits and is not looking to raise further funding. The company, which was founded in 2012 and has 33 outlets, is expanding its retail network in Mumbai. It raised $5 million from New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global, has seen sales triple in the last four years. What's interesting about this segment is that most of the startups seem quite cautious, unlike their counterparts in other sectors. Most seem to restrict themselves to a few cities and are focussing on growing and establishing a strong identity and footprint in every city they enter. Chai Point, which is also operationally profitable, has about 100 stores in eight cities and offers varieties of hot and cold chai with snacks. "We have a same store growth of 20% and our total growth is 100%,"says Amuleek Singh, co-founder, Chai Point, which also has an app to take delivery orders. About 60% of the company's revenue comes from retail stores, 30% from corporate service and 10% from the delivery business. Singh, who graduated from Harvard Business School, set up Chai Point in 2010 sensing potential in the huge number of tea drinkers in the country. The company has launched BoxC, an internet-enabled tea dispensing machine that uses natural tea leaves. "The end-consumer gets access to our brand of tea in all ways possible," says Singh. Recently, the startup raised $ 10 million from Eight Roads Ventures, DSG Partners and existing partner Saama Capital. For Suresh Radhakrishnan of Chai King, the business of tea is a numbers game. He's adopted a hybrid model with retail outlets, corporate clients and mobile kiosks. "With corporates, we see high volumes but thin margins. With retail, it is vice versa. This business is different because it cannot be driven by technology. Customer acquisition still involves traditional methods," he says. Ratan Tata-backed Teabox, which sells branded premium tea and accessories to the growing population of connoisseurs, uses customised software to map customers' tastes and habits. "Based on the answers to a set of questions, we send a sample of three teas to the customer, and then ship the one he or she chooses," says Kaushal Dugar, founder, Teabox. The startup has shipped close to 40 million cups of tea to 110 countries. Investor and entrepreneur Ganesh says beverage startups aren't the usual kind that attract venture capitalists. "They won't give you hockey stick growth because there is city sensitivity," he says, explaining that the coffee consumed in Karnataka is different from the way Tamil Nadu drinks it, just as Kochi enjoys its tea differently from New Delhi. "You need a strategy for each city and cannot go to 10 cities with a $100 million cheque.".

ink talks  |  MARCH 16, 2017  |  By: INK team

FELLOWS CORNER:KAUSHAL DUGAR

1. What has it meant to you to be an INK Fellow? For me, INK has offered a great community to be a part of. I find inspiration, ideas, feedback and much more from this...

1. What has it meant to you to be an INK Fellow? For me, INK has offered a great community to be a part of. I find inspiration, ideas, feedback and much more from this community. But what has also been significant is that I find myself among others who have had similar journeys and who have experienced success despite failures. 2. Your company Teabox has been described as “a startup that is disrupting the $40 bn global tea industry”. What has Teabox been doing that is considered as being disruptive? We just took the 200-year old tea industry in India and decided to shake it’s very roots. By upending the way things were done by introducing technology to benefit the end consumer, we changed the way the system was perceived. Some of the incredible innovations include the world’s first natural nitrogen flush teabags, the world’s first machine-learning based tea subscription and establishing India’s first cold storage for tea and others. 3. You get order requests from all over the world for your tea products! Tell us some interesting experiences you’ve had with overseas customers. One of our British customers, Peter, was posted in Iraq and wrote to tell us about it. He loved his Assam and Darjeeling black tea. And he wanted them in Kalar in the Kurdistan province. There was a lot of political unrest so it was a complicated undertaking. But we managed to get the requisite government clearances and paperwork and finally sent the order. Peter wasn’t expecting his tea to reach him, but it did and he was very happy. Some of our orders have been mini-geography lessons for us – Kiribati and islands like Micronesia, Moldova or Malta are small so finding a courier service and ensuring minimal roadblocks is no easy task. Interesting, but not easy! 4. What or who was your inspiration to start this brand? I have grown up in Darjeeling and have always enjoyed tea as it should be – fresh! Having traveled all over, and having also seen that gap between what the consumer deserves and what is offered as tea, I was keen to bridge this gap. It meant a huge change in how things had been done for too long, but as a consequence, we have been able to democratize the system and make great tea accessible to a global market. 5. Going ahead, is there anything exciting planned for ‘Teabox’? We began at Siliguri, at the foothills of Darjeeling. Assam, Kangra, boutique estates in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, estates in the Nilgiris were all added. Tea from Nepal too has become part of our portfolio. This year, we are expanding within the South Asian region and are looking at Sri Lanka.

 

vogue  |  MARCH 03, 2017  |  By: Sonal Ved

5 WEBSITES YOU CAN BUY ARTISANAL REGIONAL INDIAN EDIBLES FROM

Featuring products that range from pickles from Panipat to chips from Ernakulum, Place of Origin aims at bringing together the best from each corner of India to your doorstep. Placeoforigin.in Pickles and masalas Indian cuisine...

Featuring products that range from pickles from Panipat to chips from Ernakulum, Place of Origin aims at bringing together the best from each corner of India to your doorstep. Placeoforigin.in Pickles and masalas Indian cuisine is incomplete without the mention of pickles and masalas. If you’re running short on a particular regional variety, try Goosebumps Pickles. Imagine the dedication and control your mom has on your food, now multiply that by three, since this venture is run by three mommies who champion all things homemade. The products are artisanal and preservative-free. Our picks: Vintage Gol Keri, Ker Sangri and Katki. They also sell mulghai pudi, sambhar and rasam masalas. Goosebumpspickles.com. Sherbets Make summer better with artisanal Indian thirst quenchers that come in flavours such as bael, falsa, aam panha, buransh, paan and more. The Delhi-based website also sells sattu, a traditional drink made out of barley or whole wheat grains, sweetened with raw jaggery powder that cools, replenishes energy levels, boosts immunity, aids digestion and makes the skin glow. Homeburps.com

Teas Teabox sells teas that are handpicked from gardens of Darjeeling to estates of Assam. The website sells leaves from cities and states across India and some from Nepal as well. We love the Wah Classic Spring black tea, a fresh spring tea from the Kangra valley and North East India’s Gold Summer black tea, which is a smooth and strong tea that pairs impeccably with a rich breakfast spread. They also do a range of limited edition packs during festive season. Teabox.com Spices It’s no secret that you can’t make good Indian food without good Indian spices. From kebab chini, black stone flower or kalpasi, mace to peeli sarson, traditional and hyper regional spices that are difficult to procure in urban grocery stores, can be found on this website. Spice Market also sells vegetable, flower and tree seeds and offers free shipping on bulk orders. Thespicemarket.in.

tasting table  |  FEBRUARY 22, 2017  |  By: Alison Spigel

TAKE IT OR LEAF IT

Not only are these tea hubs the place to hang out, but as people become increasingly health-conscious, the tea industry continues to bring tea-curious drinkers ever more choices. Here are nine trends that have us...

Not only are these tea hubs the place to hang out, but as people become increasingly health-conscious, the tea industry continues to bring tea-curious drinkers ever more choices. Here are nine trends that have us leaving the coffee beans at the door as we enter the new age of tea. ”? U.S.-Grown Tea ”Almost all of the world's tea is grown in Asia, Africa and South America, but a small number of farms in the U.S. have started growing the shrub Camellia sinensis, whose leaves produce green, black and white teas. And cutting-edge restaurants, like San Francisco's Lazy Bear, are taking note. They've been sourcing tea from Golden Feather Tea farm for almost two years. ”"The demand for domestically grown tea is just beginning, lagging behind demand for locally grown produce, fruit, and other foods and beverages," says Cassie Woolhiser, head of marketing at Minto Island Tea Company, a tea farm in western Oregon. "The tea tastes fresh. It's not as deep or complex as teas coming from Sri Lanka, China or Japan that are rich in tea history and culture, but it has a taste all its own, and that's pretty wonderful." ”? Cold-Brew Tea ”"Influenced heavily by the coffee world, cold-brewing is a sort of fail-proof steeping method that creates an amazing undiluted iced tea," Chen says. Tea People sells cold-brew tea, because it's a great way to extract flavor. "This is because the tea has a longer time to brew and allows for different tasting notes to be extracted. It's a really easy way to brew tea, and it eliminates any bitterness that you sometimes get from using too hot of water." ”? Bottled Matcha ”When Graham Fortgang opened one of the country's first matcha cafés in 2014, he wanted to share what he calls "a better energy" with the world through drinks that actually taste good. Enter the now-ubiquitous matcha latte. In the last year, MatchaBar, which uses its own proprietary blend of matcha, started selling bottled matcha in flavors like apple ginger matcha, which you can buy online or at Whole Foods in NYC or L.A. ”"When we launched, it was the first bottled matcha on the market with a full serving of ceremonial-grade matcha," Fortgang says, which means there's two grams per serving and about as much caffeine as a shot of espresso. And now brands like Nature's Blueprint are following suit. Fortgang's opinion is the more matcha on the market the better. We couldn't agree more. ”? A Modern Approach to High Tea ”Forget scones with clotted cream and make way for the new Brooklynized version of traditional British tea that involves the likes of sweet potato doughnuts and canelés made with fresh-milled flour, which you'll find at the just-opened Williamsburg Hotel. Serving a whole new kind of high tea, the hotel offers "teas from India, Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan sourced directly from the farmers," explain James Stuart, managing director of the hotel, and Stefen Ramirez, founder of Tea Dealers and the hotel's tea sommelier. Yes, tea sommeliers are part of the package. ”? Tea Pairings ”Fine dining restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Atera have been doing tea pairings with their tasting menus for a few years, and newcomer Olmsted is joining in. At Eleven Madison Park, tea expert Sarah Van Doren sees tea as just as important as wine, cocktails or coffee. The restaurant does tableside presentations and sources from a range of countries with the help of In Pursuit of Tea. You'll find everything from "handpicked green tea from Japan to aged pu-erh tea from China to numerous oolongs from Taiwan," Van Doren says. "Fine dining has the ability to be both extremely complex and also incredibly simple. Just like with wine, the tea you choose can complement and add to your experience." ”? Expanding Palates ”Pushing boundaries isn't reserved just for the world of fine dining either, explorer, mountaineer, writer and tea expert Jeff Fuchs, points out. Take pu-erh sheng, non-fermented green tea that has "long been regarded as vegetal brute in the tea world," Fuchs says. Where tea drinkers once favored ripe or cooked pu-erh shou instead, the bitter pu-erh sheng is now gaining traction. ”"The attitude is changing as palates begin to understand that astringency and tangs of bitterness are not negatives, and that the way a tea finishes says as much as how it hits the mouth initially. Sheng pu-erhs’ ability to age and develop in complexities is beginning to be more understood." ”Joachim Hansen from Lazy Bear agrees. "Overall, I've seen people's tea palates expand a great deal in the last few years," he says. "Our tea importer, Haymen Da Luz, introduced me to a milk oolong tea this year. That was a style I was completely unfamiliar with: tangy, lactic acidity and rich, natural sweetness—incredible [when] paired with desserts. I expect we'll see more aged pu-erhs and unique oolongs and black teas coming up." ”? Highly Curated Lists ”To help narrow down the ever-expanding options, tea shops, like Portland's burgeoning Tea Bar, aren't offering the encyclopedic lists of yore, but instead presenting a limited menu of highly curated picks. In addition to selling all-natural bubble tea, Tea Bar serves an always-changing short list of loose leaf. "Our menu is curated surrounding the notion of less is more, quality over quantity," Erica Indira Swanson, CEO and founder of Tea Bar, says. ”? Personalized Subscription Boxes ”Taking it one step further, companies like Teabox are offering subscription boxes, which deliver a variety of fresh teas straight to your door. When Teabox launched in 2015, it was the world's first personalized tea-subscription service, and now others have followed. What sets Teabox apart, however, is its breadth—it has the largest selection of single-estate teas online—but also the machine learning that informs subscriptions. Customers take a quiz whereby Teabox identifies preferences, and over time, as customers share their feedback, the suggestions become even more tailored to the individual. ”"This eliminates the chances of preconceived notions clouding the choice of judgments when it comes to selecting the teas," Kaushal Dugar, Teabox's founder and CEO, explains. ”? Nitro Tea on Tap

”And just when you thought you had seen it all, the coffee trend that had you bouncing off the walls all summer has now found its way into the tea world, too. But this time, you can forget the fidgeting, because nitro tea makes for a much calmer caffeine high than its coffee counterpart. Alfred Tea Room in L.A. is experimenting with nitro tea, as is Chicago-based The Cafe at LeFlour. .

business world 2017  |  FEBRUARY 22, 2017  |  By: Kushal Dugar

THE TEABOX STORY: TEA ESTATE TO BECOMING A CONNOISSEUR

Developing a palate to recognize the finesse of the Darjeeling teas doesn’t happen overnight. Growing up in a Marwari family with a father whose business was in tea machinery, I went to the estates often...

Developing a palate to recognize the finesse of the Darjeeling teas doesn’t happen overnight. Growing up in a Marwari family with a father whose business was in tea machinery, I went to the estates often enough. And that didn’t make me an expert. Sure, it gave me an insight into the workings of the gardens, and I heard and saw a lot. But it was only as an adult, when I chose to work in the tea industry, that I actually turned to look closely at the Darjeeling tea. The Indian tea industry is the world's second largest producer and the fourth largest exporter of tea. And despite having been around for such a long time, the industry continues to follow the practices set up in the times of the Raj (British Raj). The entire value chain consists of scores of middle men, including brokers, importers, wholesalers, distributors, etc. And due to the large value chain, it takes an inordinately large amount of time for teas, once produced to reach the end consumer. It takes anywhere between 3-6 months for teas, once produced to hit the shelves of retail stores. By then, they would have lost their aroma, flavor and taste and the cost has increased x times. You see, it is the freshness of the tea that really determines the quality of the tea. We at Teabox are enabling tea drinkers around the world to experience the taste and quality of fresh teas. This is fundamental to our approach and everything we do revolves around this. We work with over 150 tea estates across India & Nepal to source fresh teas, within hours after production. Our tea tasters who have over 100 years of collective experience in tea tasting help us select the finest varieties. And after an intensive quality checking and cleaning process, we vacuum package them and ship them to customers across the world within a week's’ time. This is our business model, but what we are doing is much more than that.

Mindset and location were the major challenges which we faced apart from other startup challenges such as lack of cash, being a single founder, etc. The tea industry is steeped in tradition; literally, the ways of doing things have not changed much in the last 150 years. Most of the decision makers don't believe that tea is a product that can be sold online. Getting producers to even give us access to some of the best teas was a challenge in the initial days. The second aspect was the location - starting up in Siliguri which is best known for being 15 kms away from Naxalbari (the birthplace of Naxalism in India which is deemed the biggest security threat by the Indian government). And in a place like Siliguri, there is hardly any talent and a crippling infrastructure. In spite of that, we were able to run a global eCommerce company and went on to raise successful funds from major venture capitalists (the first in the Indian tea industry). The initial investment was made by me. Later, Teabox received seed funding by Accel Partners and Horizen Ventures (Singapore-based early stage fund) participating in this investment round of $1million. Prashant Prakash, from Accel joined the board as an advisor. The company later raised $6 million in Series A round of funding led by JAFCO Asia, with participation from Accel Partners, Keystone Group LP and Dragoneer Investment Group. Robert M. Bass, President of Keystone, who is a customer turned investor in Teabox. We also raised an undisclosed funding from Mr. Ratan Tata. In 2016, another customer Mr. Cameron Jones, invested in Teabox. Last year, when we moved into our new office, one of the first things that came up on the wall was a large map of the world. Little pins starting going up on it to mark the countries we were shipping to. And we set ourselves the 100-country milestone. The United States, India, the UK, Russia, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong… the usual suspects were all there. Neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka were quickly added. The old Soviet countries, known for their love of smoky black teas, were also added. The Middle East too became part of the Teabox network of countries, no surprise given that Dubai is a major center for tea. It became a ritual of sorts – every time we added a new country, we stopped to celebrate by marking it on the map. And sometimes, it was truly deserving of a celebration. Like the time we got an email from Peter, a regular customer from the UK. He was writing to say he’d now moved to Iraq and wanted to order his usual Assam and Darjeeling blacks. Could we ship to Kalar in the Kurdistan province, he asked. There was so much political unrest in Iraq and it looked like a fairly complicated undertaking. First, we said we’d leave nothing to chance and got the requisite government clearances and paperwork before shipping the order. Peter had probably not expected his tea to arrive – or arrive quickly and without hassle – and when it did, he was thrilled. And so were we. Some brought a lesson in Geography. Like Kiribati. The pin went up on a dot in the middle of the Pacific. How would we ship to Kiribati, we wondered. Fedex initially refused to take one small package all the way from India to Kiribati but we managed to convince them otherwise. The challenge is not merely in shipping to a far-flung country, but in getting it done in the shortest possible time. Quite like Santa and his logistical nightmare of taking a toy to kids all over the world in one night, if you ask me. The Teabox brand promises the world’s freshest tea. We get our teas from gardens within 72 hours of production, often sooner. So the logistics of maintaining this freshness is critical for us. Shipping to Russia by Airmail takes 25-30 days. Today, our teas reach Moscow and St Petersburg in six. At the heart of this logistical efficiency is a nimble and proactive team that is regularly working with shipping partners and customs departments to remove roadblocks at every step. So, when Spain and Italy began returning tea and coffee because they were conduits for drugs, we worked on getting our clearances in order. When orders come from small island countries like Malta, Moldova, or Micronesia we attach a self-use declaration form so that our customers are spared of extra duty fees. And so, we’ve learnt to make this experience pain free for the customer, no matter where in the world they live. The pins on the map have been fast adding up. Europe is looking very crowded with a pin on nearly every country there, both the western and eastern sides. Asia too has a mass of pins. South America was a pleasant addition and we’ve shipped to Columbia (where you have to hire a broker to collect your parcel from Customs), Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru there. Africa too has a few pins, as do a handful of islands in the Indian Ocean. Recently, we hit our first milestone – 100 countries. As it turns out, we’d been too busy to count, but at the end of last year, when we decided to stop and check, there were 109 pins on the map! There seems to be a renewed interest in the tea category. But having said that, most of the new tea brands seem to be just putting a new spin on the last mile delivery. When we started up, we decided to take the difficult road of turning things on its head – by setting up our presence at the source, by creating a genuine set of benefits for our consumers, by choosing to use technology to reach more consumers as opposed to a traditional brick and mortar set up. This meant owning and operating the entire value chain ground-up, starting from farm to cup. This approach, we believe gives us the advantage of greater control over consumer experience, and hence will be very beneficial in the long run. On a tangible level, we at Teabox map our success by the pace of our growth, which we have achieved. However, I think, Teabox will be truly successful after it would have established itself as the only premium brand of tea from India that is recognized globally. .

the hindu businessline  |  JANUARY 27, 2017  |  By: Purvitha Chatarjee

INDIAN TEA START-UPS TASTING SUCCESS IN OVERSEAS MARKETS

The funds raised would be used for opening warehouses in the US, its largest market so far. For Vahdam Teas, which has been in the online retail space for three years now, the bulk of...

The funds raised would be used for opening warehouses in the US, its largest market so far. For Vahdam Teas, which has been in the online retail space for three years now, the bulk of revenues continue to come from the 76 overseas markets, instead of India. Ratan Tata-funded Teabox also looks at the US as its largest market having raised $8 million ( Rs. 50 crore) so far and believes it has made history in the tea industry by reaching out its loose premium teas to 100 countries. When it comes to loose premium teas, the young start-ups would rather place their bets on the overseas markets to make money instead of relying on the ‘chai’-drinking domestic market. At the same time stalwarts like Starbucks-owned Teavana and a host of international tea brands are making a beeline into the country in the hope of converting Indian CTC drinkers and trading to superior loose teas. “The premium loose tea category is still not matured in India while the US is an open market for us. India is largely a CTC market but there are players like Teavana who are exploring new markets today. For us, India will always contribute about 10 per cent of our revenues,’’ says Sarda.

While Seattle-based Teavana enters India through the Starbucks stores and hopes to double its tea sales, Indian tea start-ups are wary of tasting success in the domestic market anytime soon. “Today, almost 85 per cent of our revenues come from the overseas market and we do not see this ratio changing in the foreseeable future. Despite India being a tea-drinking nation, it can never be as big as the US market for loose premium teas. In fact we have even managed to convert some of the Teavana drinkers to Teabox in the US,’’ says Kaushal Dugar, Founder and CEO, Teabox. At the same time, these start-ups are willing to give a leg up to the mass Indian brands that want to dabble in the premium loose tea segment. “We expect mass brands from HUL and Tata Global Beverages to become our strategic partners in future if they wanted to enter the premium tea segment and we have held some discussions with some of them,’’ added Sarda. With Ratan Tata as an investor in Teabox, it may be a matter of time before Teabox gives inputs to Tata Global Beverages to upgrade its portfolio into the super premium end of the loose tea market. “Ratan Tata is already the owner of the largest tea company in India and we would be keen to have some of the corporates approach us as we make quality single estate tea blends and are even more premium than Teavana in the US,’’ added Dugar. .

the telegraph  |  JANUARY 12, 2017  |  By: Roopak Goswami

TEABOX TROTS HALF THE GLOBE

The company has delivered tea to 109 countries in the world, including countries like Kiribati, Isle of Man and Siberia, to name a few. There are 233 countries in the world. "We have delivered tea...

The company has delivered tea to 109 countries in the world, including countries like Kiribati, Isle of Man and Siberia, to name a few. There are 233 countries in the world. "We have delivered tea to practically half the countries in the world and plan to reach the rest in the next two years. Our aim is to make Indian teas available to people across the globe. In the history of the tea industry, Teabox is the only company to have reached more than 100 countries in four years." Kaushal Dugar, the founder and CEO of Teabox, told The Telegraph. He said the next destinations are Africa and Latin America. #Within four years of its existence, Teabox has delivered over 40 million cups of tea to customers in over 100 countries. The company, now rated as one of the hottest start-ups in the food-tech category, sources tea directly from plantations in Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiris and vacuum packs the leaves within 48 hours of sourcing. It delivers tea to various destinations within three to five days.

Dugar said they have also delivered tea to a country like Kiribati. Pronounced Kiribas, it is an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, located in the central Pacific Ocean, about 4,000km southwest of Hawaii. "We had to search Google for Kiribati after a customer ordered for tea from our company. We then found out how to deliver tea directly to the country and did it successfully. The tea was delivered in 8-9 days," he said. The customer, Shantwanea King, had ordered a subscription box comprising Darjeeling black teas and green teas. The subscription programme empowers tea drinkers to choose the kind of tea they would enjoy. Some of the other teas which were despatched ranged from Earl Grey tea to Siberia, iced tea and blended tea to Peru, Assam black teas to Latvia and Kahwa to a customer in the Isle of Man. Kahwa is a traditional green tea prepared with exotic spices. Earl Grey tea is a tea blend flavoured with oil of bergamot. Dugar said the company was started with a vision that every cup of tea sold would be the freshest cup . "That vision has now become a reality thanks to our customers, who, like us, seized the opportunity to enjoy the world's freshest teas. We look forward to delighting customers all around the globe with more innovation," he said. Teabox reached this feat through word of mouth, and digital and social marketing, the company said in a release issued here, adds PTI. "I am very proud to have added this milestone to our list of achievements. We continue to innovate and recently introduced the world's first natural nitrogen flush tea bag so that every cup is fresh," Dugar added. .

business world  |  JANUARY 11, 2017  |  By: BW online bureau

TEABOX IS THE FIRST INDIAN GLOBAL BRAND TO BRING TO 100 COUNTRIES THE WORLD’S FRESHEST TEA

Teabox is currently creating a market for Indian tea across the globe, including countries such as USA, Russia, Kiribati, Siberia, Federated states of Micronesia, Chile, Argentina, Fiji and Ural Mountains (Siberia). Commenting on the same...

Teabox is currently creating a market for Indian tea across the globe, including countries such as USA, Russia, Kiribati, Siberia, Federated states of Micronesia, Chile, Argentina, Fiji and Ural Mountains (Siberia). Commenting on the same Kaushal Dugar, Founder and CEO, said "My team and I are very proud to have added this milestone to our list of achievements. I started Teabox with a vision that every cup of tea sold, will be the freshest cup of tea out there. That vision has come to life, thanks to our customers, who, like us, seized the opportunity to enjoy the world’s freshest teas from Teabox. We continue to bring innovation and recently introduced the world’s first natural nitrogen flush tea bag so that every cup is fresh. We look forward to always delighting customers all around the globe with more innovation, so they may enjoy the most delicious fresh teas from India."

Teabox has always been obsessively focussed on being able to deliver an un-matchable experience to our consumers. In fact, one of the investors, Robert Bass of Keystone Group LP, first discovered Teabox as a tea drinker. He is a devout tea drinker and he loved the product so much that he went on to participate in the first round of investment. Another Teabox customer Cameron Jones, a Singapore-based Angel Investor and Tea Connoisseur was impressed by the freshness of the tea sold by Teabox and went ahead also invested into the company last year. There could not have been a bigger testament to the quality of Teabox’s products. Teabox is disrupting the $40 billion tea industry with its innovations in technology and the supply chain. Rated as one of the hottest start-ups in the food-tech category, it sources teas directly from plantations in Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiris and vacuum packs the leaves often within 48 hours of sourcing. By shipping directly from the processing warehouses to customers in over 100 countries within three to five days it ensures every customer has the freshest tea possible. .

the economic times  |  JANUARY 02, 2017  |  By: Masoom Gupta

WHEN TEABOX FOUNDER KAUSHAL DUGAR GOT AN ORDER FROM KIRIBATI

The startup ships to over 105 countries globally and sometimes even places that the team hasn’t heard of. "Have you heard of this country called Kiribati? We had to Google it and find out. It’s...

The startup ships to over 105 countries globally and sometimes even places that the team hasn’t heard of. "Have you heard of this country called Kiribati? We had to Google it and find out. It’s just this dot in the middle of the Pacific. Apparently, due to global warming, the country may not even exist in an another 10-15 years," Dugar shared.

Then there was the Federated States of Micronesia. "These two have been the most incredible countries that we’ve shipped to," Dugar added. Though India based, the local market remains at number three for the startup. US and Russia occupy the first two positions respectively. .

tf1  |  DECEMBER 26, 2016  |  By: Andrey Crespe-Mara

FROST, A BLACK TEA OF EXCELLENCE, PICKED IN WINTER

In the Nilgri Mountains, it is harvested by hand after the winter frosts. Like wine, it has its own terroir, its own identity. The result is a subtle sweet and flowery aroma. Rare and delicate,...

In the Nilgri Mountains, it is harvested by hand after the winter frosts. Like wine, it has its own terroir, its own identity. The result is a subtle sweet and flowery aroma. Rare and delicate, it is one of the most expensive teas in the world.

 

entrepreneur  |  DECEMBER 12, 2016  |  By: Sanchari Gupta

#5 MONEY MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Many small business owners are careless in their personal finances and end up paying a heavy price in terms of interest charges when they take a business loan. Often business owners are unaware that their...

Many small business owners are careless in their personal finances and end up paying a heavy price in terms of interest charges when they take a business loan. Often business owners are unaware that their personal credit rating could be a factor when banks review their application for a business loan. Although you are taking out a small business loan, your personal credit record is a reflection of how you will run your business. Lenders will look at your credit score and credit report and would like to see demonstrated repayment discipline in your personal finances as well. A poor personal credit record might result in high interest rates and expensive repayment terms on your business loan.

Spend Less On Capex - Tina Garg, Founder & CEO, Pink Lemonade Most entrepreneurs today spend heavily on Capex; investing in things such as fancy offices at the time of starting out and that is a big no-no. For example, instead of looking for a space in the heart of the city, rent spaces in slightly peripheral areas of the city. Secondly, instead of spending heavily on office furniture and interiors, use something that more plug-n-play -- free desks and chairs, and lighter pieces that you can move around and reposition. Use your design sensibility to make the place look funkier with cost-effective wallarts, installations, or maybe even a bright colored wall. Be A Cautious Spender - Manish Sinha, Founder, Skrilo Spending is easy. Spending on quality growth is not. Ask any start-up and I am confident that the foremost challenge in building a business is the balancing act of nurturing the growth wave and managing the cash burn. The pitfalls are all waiting to trip you over. Keep The Budget Small Initially - Kaushal Dugar, Founder and CEO, Teabox It is very usual for small business owners to waste a lot of their capital, in the starting of their venture. Every new strategy and idea that dwells in the respective market, attracts them and hence wasting of money can happen across. Some of the common issues that float first are - Office space, Marketing, staff, advertising, developing numerous business plans, unnecessary infrastructure and so on. Over the years, every business owner goes through the same and learns through each stage of his growth. Managing Working Capital - Satyam Kumar, CEO and Co-founder, Loantap In my opinion small business owners are not able to factor in efforts of collection (from debtors) and assign a cost to it. This also leads to under-pricing of interest cost (trade interest / discount). Thirdly, managing working capital is crucial. They very often mix personal finance, capital requirement and working capital. This leads to strain on working capital and results into costly purchases or higher delivery. .

the hindu business line  |  DECEMBER 05, 2016  |  By: Metroplus

FOR THE TEATOTALLER

Which is the champagne of teas? Do you know your tea’s terroir...it is almost like wine. Would you like winter-frost white tea? Or tea laced with marigold flowers? Would you rather sip on a summer...

Which is the champagne of teas? Do you know your tea’s terroir...it is almost like wine. Would you like winter-frost white tea? Or tea laced with marigold flowers? Would you rather sip on a summer oolong or an autumn oolong? Or would you rather curl up and breathe in aromas of a jasmine-infused black tea laced with rose petals, cornflower and cardamom? Teabox, a four-year-old startup, has been selling fresh tea — single estate teas, blends, loose leaf teas — about 250 varieties of them from 150 estates in India and Nepal, to over 95 countries. India ranks third among its customers, after the U.S.A. and Russia. “Indians don’t realise that like the fruits and vegetables they buy and eat, even tea has to be fresh! After all, it’s an agricultural product,” is the argument Teabox founder and CEO Kaushal Dugar puts forward. It is also the selling point for Teabox teas. “It takes between six to eight months for teas, once produced, to reach the consumer going through the chain of auctions, wholesaler, retailer. Our tea reaches you in a week from plucking; it is packed within 48 hours,” says Dugar, who divides his time between Siliguri (West Bengal) where their operations are based, and Bengaluru.

He says India figures third on his consumer list because “Our teas require a conversion of palette. Indians, at the end of the day, are chai people. It is only in the last few years that the health factor, and global exposure from travel has pushed Indians to explore other ‘pure’ teas.” He himself drinks chai - milky tea - every morning that he is habituated to, and then a cup of black; but on average he tastes about 20 cups a day at work, and in peak production time, about 200 a day. Having grown up on tea estates because his entire extended family was in the business, Kaushal later studied and worked in Singapore as a corporate finance analyst and strategy consultant at KPMG. But when he wanted to do something different, he found himself returning to what he knew best. “The tea industry in India hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years. There is not a single brand from India that has made it big abroad.” On board their panel are fifth generation tea planters with experience, food technologists from CFTRI, and blending experts. Teabox is one of the few places where you’ll be able to shop by type, region, flavour, collection, flush and season. Teas are sourced from Darjeeling, Assam, Nepal, Nilgiris, Kangra, and the north-eastern states of India. “My family has been in the tea business for 70 years. Their site offers the largest collection of single-estate teas in the world — around 190 — claims Dugar. “On our site we share the name of the estate the tea came from, the date it was plucked, the lot number, certifications, tasting notes, ideal steeping time...” He says estates would rather sell to them than export because they offer a better price and give estates brand visibility. “Some of these estates are over 200 years old and we tell you their stories too.” Nepal is just next to Darjeeling, with the same altitude and weather. It is just that Darjeeling is more famous,” is how he explains why Nepal teas find a prominent place in their collections. “Our consumers are largely tea connoisseurs who’ve been drinking their Assams and Darjeelings for over 40 years, and much like wine connoisseurs, they know what they want,” he says. And for those who don’t, Teabox is now hosting tea appreciation sessions; Bengaluru has seen three such happen. They’ve opened a small retail counter at Cinnamon in Bengaluru. Some of their teas are organic, some are Fairtrade certified as well. These speciality and gourmet teas are now becoming mainstream, he concedes. “We don’t use any artificial flavours. Even the flowers and spices we use in the teas are all natural.” They’ve also been able to identify flavour preferences the world over — lighter fruity and flowery blends work well in Japan, but not in Russia, he points out. Almost 50 per cent of Indians are now hung up on green tea or full-bodied Darjeeling teas. We, predictably, like our tea strong. Of the total tea consumption in the world, almost 90 per cent is in the form of teabags, he says. And this is a region they have innovated in, by creating the TeaPac. “Air is the number one enemy of tea, specially moisture in air. Vacuum sealing teabags would crush the delicate tea leaves so we figured we could nitrogen flush pack it to retain the tea’s freshness.” So each teabag is individually puff-packed like your chips. The teabags themselves are large airy pyramid shaped and made from biodegradable nylon allowing for the leaves room to fully unfurl and give out flavour. Loose teas are priced between Rs. 6,000 a kilo up to Rs. 1.2 lakh. The TeaPacs are sold in boxes of 16 teabags for Rs. 240. Did you know? *All teas come from the same tea plant -- whether it’s black, green, white or oolong tea. The way the leaves are processed is what gives them their character *Most tea plants are referred to as “Chinary” teas because they were initially smuggled into India from China. *Research has ensured that many hybrid varieties have entered the tea space, and these are referred to as “clonal” teas. *The Nilgiris region is famous for its winter teas, Assam for summer teas (summer teas are more astringent), Darjeeling for spring and summer teas (spring teas are more fruity and lighter), and the whole of north-east India offers spring and summer teas. The perfect cuppa... You don’t grab tea. You look forward to it, for a couple of hours at least, says Kaushal Dugar. And here are some tea brewing tips from him -- simple infusion works well for all teas. You can control the temperature and steeping time, so the tea will be of the strength you desire. Step 1: Heat water to desired temperature. Ensure the water isn’t boiling as very high temperatures can easily destroy the delicate notes in the tea. Place the tea leaves in a infuser. Step 2: Pour the hot water over the tea leaves until they are submerged. Step 3: Let it steep for the recommended time. Take care not to over-steep. Step 4: Remove the tea leaves. Pour into a cup and enjoy. You can at this point sweeten your tea with sugar, cream or honey. Or add a dash of lemon juice or mint for that extra flavour. “Try it plain once; you'll be surprised how many layers are there to a cup of tea,” adds Dugar. .

deccan herald  |  DECEMBER 04, 2016  |  By: Narayana Kulkarni

TEABOX TO TRIPLE PRODUCTION CAPACITY BY MARCH

Speaking to DH, Kaushal Dugar, founder and CEO of Teabox said, “TeaPacs offers the highest quality loose-leaf teas from Teabox’s premium collection in a more convenient, on-the-go option, without compromising on flavour or freshness. We...

Speaking to DH, Kaushal Dugar, founder and CEO of Teabox said, “TeaPacs offers the highest quality loose-leaf teas from Teabox’s premium collection in a more convenient, on-the-go option, without compromising on flavour or freshness. We want to ensure that every cup of tea consumed is the freshest in the world, but we know that not everyone has time to steep loose leaf. So, we have created TeaPacs that anyone can enjoy anywhere and anytime.” Dugar pointed out that Teabox is the world’s first company to use a natural nitrogen flush in the beverage market, a technique most commonly used in packaging food items, including potato chips. This innovative approach creates a non-reactive environment that protects the TeaPac tea from oxygen, light, heat and moisture – elements that compromise the integrity of tea, causing deterioration and ultimately, loss of flavour.

Sharing the growth of the company, Dugar said, “We are seeing multi-fold growth year-on-year. Since the time we started in 2012, Teabox has shipped over 35 million cups worth of teas to customers across 95 countries in a short span of time. We will be shipping to another three countries in the coming period, and will cross the 100-mark before the end of this year.” In 2014-15, the company has shipped five million cups of tea. In 2015-16, the number of cups have increased to seven million. During the current fiscal, it has shipped about 14 million cups of tea. The company has raised $7.5 million in funding from Ratan Tata, who invested an undisclosed amount this year. Besides,Teabox is backed by Singapore-based JAFCO Asia, Accel Partners, Keystone Group LP and Dragoneer Investment Group. “Looking at the growth of the company and demand for our products, we will continue to raise funds mid next year,” Dugar added. “We source premium loose-leaf teas from over 150 tea estates in Darjeeling, Nepal, Nilgiri, Assam and Kangra regions in India,” he added. About the future plans, he said, “I hope to give a Silicon Valley makeover to our tradition-bound tea industry. I want to introduce newer varieties of teas that are fresh and delicious that people can have anywhere in the world.” .

brand equity  |  DECEMBER 01, 2016  |  By: Anand J

INDIAN TEA STARTUPS ARE BREWING INTO GLOBAL BRANDS

Bass was a connoisseur of tea and spent about an hour over the course of every single day sipping his favourite beverage. Bass had one day come across Teabox and had started ordering. Six months...

Bass was a connoisseur of tea and spent about an hour over the course of every single day sipping his favourite beverage. Bass had one day come across Teabox and had started ordering. Six months into it, he sent an email to Dugar saying if Dugar ever needed cash, he could reach out to him.Three months later, Bass participated, in his individual capacity, in Teabox's first round of institutional funding. “When you have consumers putting in money, you know that you are doing something right,” says Dugar, adding, “Bass was happy to see that innovations were happening in traditional industries too.” Online tea startups are creating Indian tea brands in markets like the US and Russia; something even the big tea estates and business houses have failed to do in the last century of the country's history as a major tea producer. Teabox, Teamonk, Vahdam Teas and Teameteas sell several specialty teas and single origin teas from the famed tea gardens of Darjeeling and the Nilgiris.

These startups see most of the demand, around 75%, coming from the US, Russia and the UK. “There was no Indian brand in the global tea market whereas there are 50 niche brands from Sri Lanka. That’s changing,” says Bala Sarda, founder of Vahdam Teas, which has different websites for the Indian market, for the Russian market, and for the rest of the world to address the different tastes in these markets. A 100gm tea leaves box starts at about Rs 350 and can up to more than Rs 12,000. The startups are investing in facilities that help them to create different blends. Teamonk has launched pyramidical tea bags that leave enough space for the dried leaves to expand when immersed in hot water. Teabox last month launched tea bags filled with inert gas nitrogen that preserves the freshness and flavour of the tea leaves. Vahdam has invested in logistics so that the company can ship its products to New York in four days. Teabox, which has raised $9 million in funding from Accel Partners, Jafco Asia and Horizen Ventures, has 100 employees, and says it has seen a three-times growth in volumes in the past one year. The platform has 1.5 lakh registered users, and has an average transaction value of $80. Dugar says that the specialty tea market is 1% of the overall tea business with lot of headroom for growth. Ashok Mittal, MD of Bengaluru-based Teamonk, says even the Indian market has grown big in the past couple of years. “People are getting health conscious. A few lakh customers will be a large enough market. We are also targeting big hotel chains and pushing our products for corporate gifting,” he says. Most of these ventures are operationally profitable. But not everybody can hope to make a success out of tea in international markets. The entrepreneurs that are doing well have significant experience in the space. Dugar's father was a major tea estate machinery supplier and grew up in Siliguri. Mittal worked with Hindustan Unilever's tea division for 30 years. Vahdam's Sarda has tea businesses in Darjeeling and Gangtok (Sikkim). .

deccan chronicle  |  NOVEMBER 03, 2016  |  By: Namita Gupta

TEA PRENEUR

Also, Kaushal states that a lot of people don’t know that just like fruits and vegetables, teas need to be fresh to get the full flavour. If a tea is not stored well, it loses...

Also, Kaushal states that a lot of people don’t know that just like fruits and vegetables, teas need to be fresh to get the full flavour. If a tea is not stored well, it loses its freshness and quality. Ask the 31-year old entrepreneur, who confesses to be a modern history buff, loves running and has completed two full marathons, about his innovations and he states with a twinkle in his eyes, “The teas are sourced from the best tea gardens in Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri, Kangra, Sikkim and Nepal. Tea samples are evaluated by expert tea tasting team and only those that match stringent standards are listed on the website and regardless of the location around the world, buyers receive their tea packs within three-five days. As per innovation, we use a natural nitrogen flush in beverages; a technique most commonly used in packaging food items. This innovative approach creates a non-reactive environment that protects the TeaPac from elements that compromise the integrity of the tea causing loss of flavour.” Kaushal adds on his personal favourite flavours, “Darjeeling first flush white teas are exquisite in taste and character, very aromatic and flavourful. Also, I love jasmine green and assam masala chai blends made of natural ingredients.”

In his quest to bring great tea into the everyday life and provide tea lovers across the globe an easy access to the freshest tea, Kaushal, a tea enthusiast and passionate entrepreneur, quit his corporate job at KPMG. Already rated as the hottest start-ups in the food and tech category by New York Times, his teas are plucked, processed and packaged within one week using a cold chain process, ensuring the freshness. Kaushal shares of his journey, “After highschool in Siliguri, I won a scholarship to study Business at the Singapore Management University. After KPMG, I returned to Siliguri (heart of tea growing region) and decided to work for my elder brother who runs a tea export business that exposed me to another side, as the infrastructure to take the teas from gardens to the consumer was dated. I saw an opportunity for change. It was challenging as we were trying to disrupt in an industry which has hardly changed in the last 200 years.” Some of the new flavours include Oolong Tea, Nilgiri White Tea, Kashmiri Kahwa, Organic Green Tea, Mint Jubilee, Morning Dew, Mountain Rose, Earl Grey, Chamomlle Roy, Darjeeling Muscatel, Assam Black Tea, Organic Breakfast, Fresh Assam Masala Chai, Darjeeling Masala Chai and more. .

verve  |  OCTOBER 19, 2016  |  By: Sadaf Shaikh

6 CURATED BOXES FOR THOSE WHO LIKE UNPREDICTABLE GIFTS

The inception: For founder Kaushal Dugar who was born in Siliguri in Darjeeling, dabbling in the booming tea business was a no-brainer. When he was young, the huge machines in the estate factories would fascinate...

The inception: For founder Kaushal Dugar who was born in Siliguri in Darjeeling, dabbling in the booming tea business was a no-brainer. When he was young, the huge machines in the estate factories would fascinate him endlessly and he thought the process of a small green leaf turning into a delicious drink was quite magical. On completing his education, he decided to work for his older brother who ran a tea export business. He realised that the whole procedure of marketing tea was very archaic and decided to import ideas and practices from other cultures and present them tastefully to transform tea into more of an experience than a mere concoction.

Why you should choose them: The quality and freshness of their teas will transport you right to the verdant tea gardens in Darjeeling. Employees visit the tea gardens personally to taste and select the teas which are vacuum-packed to retain freshness. The teas are sourced from some of the best gardens in Assam, Nilgiri, Kangra, Sikkim and Nepal. During packaging, they ensure that details of the teas are mentioned comprehensively so that customers are privy to information like location of the tea garden, date of plucking, tasting notes and details of the garden. Quirkiest creations: “For Diwali this year, we created a hamper of the most exquisite flavours of tea like oolong, vanilla pistachio and other balmy spices. These sold like hot cakes because Diwali is a time of togetherness and a good cup of tea only adds to the celebratory spirit. Also, keep an eye out for our ’12 days of Christmas’ box which comes in special box with little Christmas trees printed on the cover and a glorious smorgasbord of flavours like coco berry, mint chip and chocolate marmalade among others.” .

techinaasia  |  OCTOBER 19, 2016  |  By: Malavika Yelayanikal

A STARTUP TAKES A SHOT AT $40 BILLION TEA INDUSTRY WITH AN INNOVATIVE HACK

But now, Teabox, a disruptor of the US$40 billion global tea market with its online direct-to-consumer distribution channel and supply chain innovations, claims to have found the answer to that dilemma. Today it launched TeaPacs....

But now, Teabox, a disruptor of the US$40 billion global tea market with its online direct-to-consumer distribution channel and supply chain innovations, claims to have found the answer to that dilemma. Today it launched TeaPacs. These are tea bags for dipping with a difference. They contain premium leaf teas sourced from Darjeeling and Nepal – many of the same ones that Teabox sources and markets on its portal. A natural nitrogen flush keeps the leaf teas fresh in these TeaPacs, according to a statement from Teabox. Nitrogen flushing is a preservation method commonly used for coffee, nuts, and chips. It forces the oxygen out of the packet, fills it with nitrogen, and seals it tight. The same process now comes to fresh leaf teas. The leaf tea bags, which have a pyramid shape to allow the leaves to unfurl and release their flavor, are sealed with nitrogen in the TeaPacs.

“Coming from a tea family and spending much of my childhood in tea estates, I grew up drinking some of the world’s best teas – so I know how fresh tea is meant to taste,” says Kaushal Dugar, founder and CEO of Teabox. Kaushal’s family has been in the tea business for over 80 years. He started Teabox four years ago when he saw that the traditional warehousing and distribution of tea were inefficient and ill-suited for preserving the freshness of tea that connoisseurs crave. Its investors include Accel Partners and Indian tycoon Ratan Tata. Texas oil baron Robert Bass and Singapore angel investor Cameron Jones, who love their tea, are among its backers. Teabox introduced vacuum packing and cold storages to source teas from hundreds of growers in India and Nepal and deliver them to 95 countries across the world. Now it hopes to take that to a new level with the TeaPacs innovation. The introduction of leaf tea bags may also give a boost to Teabox’s distribution within the country, where a large section of people cannot afford the price of a regular box of premium leaf tea. Sales of shampoo show that small is beautiful in India. The introduction of single-use sachets, which are cheaper to pack and distribute, turned the industry on its head. Indians today use more sachet-sized shampoos than the regular-sized ones, according to Nielsen. The sachet packaging formula has subsequently been extended to other consumer products from creams to sauces. .

npr  |  OCTOBER 04, 2016  |  By: Joel Koehler

AUTUMN FLUSH: THE BEST DARJEELING TEA YOU'LL (LIKELY NEVER) TASTE

The harvesting season in Darjeeling runs from mid-March through November, as the tea bushes gradually progress through a quartet of distinct seasons known as "flushes." The tea is often sold not only by single estate...

The harvesting season in Darjeeling runs from mid-March through November, as the tea bushes gradually progress through a quartet of distinct seasons known as "flushes." The tea is often sold not only by single estate (like wine) but also by flush. The first flush is keenly anticipated, and the second has obtained near-cult status. Yet many of India's top tea experts point to another as their personal favorite, autumn flush. Those teas, though, remain largely unknown and, alas, nearly impossible to find in tea shops. A Primer On Flushes Darjeeling traditionally produces black teas: The freshly plucked leaves are withered overnight, rolled and fermented (or oxidized) before being fired. The teas have an unrivaled metallic brightness in the cup, fragrant aromas, and flavors that hint of apricots, peaches, muscat grapes and toasty nuts. But each flush offers a distinctive variation on these characteristic traits. First flush teas, made as new leaves, stimulated by the first moisture after a winter of dormancy, start appearing on the bushes. Yellowish-green in the cup and light on the palate, they have an appealing spring freshness to them, with a hint of astringency that gives the tea a pleasing crispness. Darjeeling's renown muscatel flavor — perhaps best described as a musky spice with sweet notes — is at its most pronounced during the second (or summer) flush. They days are warmer and the tea leaves slightly bigger. The brilliant golden-coppery liquor offers rounder, deeper flavors.

The monsoon arrives in Darjeeling sometime in June, and during the wet months that follow, the bushes produce abundantly. But the leaves are larger and coarser, and the damp weather complicates the withering and fermentation steps, making it difficult to turn out fine teas. Despite their romantic name, the monsoon flush is generally consigned to blenders who will mix it with other, often lesser teas to give them flavor. (The lower-grade monsoon teas frequently end up in less expensive teabags, sometimes without even the Darjeeling name.) Autumn flush — the last of the year — begins by the end of October, once the monsoon has withdrawn from the misty hills, the rains tapered off, and the temperatures begun to drop. The tea bushes reduce their output as they move toward hibernation. It is the shortest of the harvests, and lasts just 30 or so days. "The liquor has a delicate yet sparkling character with a delightful flavor, distinct from both first flush and second flush with a round cup," says B.N. Mudgal, who managed for last few decades Jungpana, one of Darjeeling's most storied gardens. "The infused leaf has a coppery gold brightness with a sweet fresh nose." That color can run to bright amber, even burgundy. A Favorite Of Discerning Palates Less floral and delicate than the opening flushes, autumn flavors tend to be more deeply fruity, with notes of ripe grapes and berries. "This is the kind of tea where you can get body," says Girish Sarda. His family has run Nathmull's of Darjeeling, the hill station's finest tea store, since 1931. Or, as Rishi Saria, of the high-elevation Gopaldhara Tea Estate, says, "a robust cup and solid cup." Robust is relative, and is far from the strong breakfast teas of Assam and Kenya. Even at its boldest, Darjeeling is still generally drunk without milk, sugar or even lemon. "If there is one word I would use to characterize these teas, it would be well-balanced," says Jai Kejriwal, whose family has owned Jungpana since acquiring it from the Nepalese royal Rana family in 1956. "The teas have no sharpness, bite or astringency that typifies first and second flush teas." The rounded flavors and smoothness in the mouth, slightly sweet under notes, and mellowness make it the most readily palatable of all Darjeeling teas for Kolkata auctioneer Anindyo Choudhury, who tastes about a thousand different teas from Darjeeling each week. Autumn is the personal favorite flush of many of India's most discerning tea tasters, including Choudhury and the celebrated tea master and blender Sanjay Kapur, who savors the complexities of the flush's flavor. Elusive Taste Yet the autumn flush rarely makes it beyond India's borders. Among the top North America purveyors of fine teas that sell Darjeeling tea by estate and flush, neither Harney & Sons nor Tea Trekker offer any, while Upton Tea Imports has just a single autumn flush among the 26 Darjeelings it stocks. Even the world's finest tea shop, Mariage Frères of Paris, which carries over 100 different Darjeeling teas, offers just three from the autumn flush. There is significantly less tea from this final harvesting period. With less quantity, only a limited amount makes it to public auction. Gardens generally sell their autumn flush privately to exporters and a few online retailers and tea boutiques. But this is not the sole reason it is nearly impossible to find in shops. Buyers abroad are largely done for the year, and often distracted by the impending Christmas holidays. Most of the top stores do not bother to stock it. That means that customers are rarely even aware of autumn options. In France, which has a long tradition of drinking fine teas, customers at such well-stocked stores as Mariage Frères keenly await the arrival of first and second flush teas, but often have little idea that there will be new Darjeeling offerings arriving late in the year. Certainly they are missing out on the last offering from the tea bushes before they go into hibernation. "The sweetness, smoothness and balanced fruity and floral notes of the cup are in complete harmony," says Kejriwal. "It's almost as if the bush is looking forward to its rest, content after a season-long journey." For those who can get autumn flush — unless you have access to a shop like Mariage Frères, the best place might be a specialist online retailer, such as Teabox — it is the perfect way to ease out the final months of the year and sustain oneself until the new spring teas are ready in March. First flush, at least, is easier to find. .

forbes  |  SEPTEMBER 28, 2016  |  By: Esha Chabbra

WHY RATAN TATA IS BACKING THIS NEW BRAND THAT FUSES TECH AND TEA ESTATES

Dugar raised $6 million to change that. His startup Teabox combines technology with tea to create India’s first global premium tea brand. Much like other subscription box enterprises, Dugar developed a monthly service that caters...

Dugar raised $6 million to change that. His startup Teabox combines technology with tea to create India’s first global premium tea brand. Much like other subscription box enterprises, Dugar developed a monthly service that caters to a customer’s palate. Each month, customers are sent an assortment of teas.

They provide feedback after each box. And after the first three boxes, the company has developed an understanding of what their customer prefers. “We use technology and algorithms in a smart way to solve the discovery journey,” he says from his Siliguri headquarters. The online storefront sells over 250 varieties of teas — all sourced from different regions of India, several offered in organic varieties. Getting the business off the ground was a challenge, though, for Dugar. Even with his family background in tea, he found tea estate owners difficult to convince. Traditionally, estates sent samples of their teas to customers to taste. Dugar, instead, treated tea like wine, developing nuanced descriptions of each variety, which are available on the company’s online storefront. He then presented the estate owners with an alternative: allow me to take your product to a global marketplace. .

bustle  |  JULY 27, 2016  |  By: Toria Sheffield

5 WAYS TO CREATE THE PERFECT MORNING RITUAL, ACCORDING TO AN EXPERT

And by "ritual" I don't mean an hour-long silent meditation session, or a trip to your local hot yoga studio before the sun rise — I simply mean a small task, or a few small...

And by "ritual" I don't mean an hour-long silent meditation session, or a trip to your local hot yoga studio before the sun rise — I simply mean a small task, or a few small tasks, that you do every morning to help ground and center you for your day. In thinking about morning rituals, I was able to connect with Kaushal Dugar, the founder and CEO of Teabox, a company that distributes fresh tea varieties from India in the form of a monthly subscription service (think Birchbox, but with delicious and unique tea varieties) .

 

deccan chronicle  |  JULY 21, 2016  |  By: Namitha Gupta

HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH THE 'TEA'PRENEUR

Also, Kaushal states that a lot of people don’t know that just like fruits and vegetables, teas need to be fresh to get the full flavour. If a tea is not stored well, it loses...

Also, Kaushal states that a lot of people don’t know that just like fruits and vegetables, teas need to be fresh to get the full flavour. If a tea is not stored well, it loses its freshness and quality. Ask the 31-year old entrepreneur, who confesses to be a modern history buff, loves running and has completed two full marathons, about his innovations and he states with a twinkle in his eyes, “The teas are sourced from the best tea gardens in Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri, Kangra, Sikkim and Nepal. Tea samples are evaluated by expert tea tasting team and only those that match stringent standards are listed on the website and regardless of the location around the world, buyers receive their tea packs within three-five days. As per innovation, we use a natural nitrogen flush in beverages; a technique most commonly used in packaging food items. This innovative approach creates a non-reactive environment that protects the TeaPac from elements that compromise the integrity of the tea causing loss of flavour.” Kaushal adds on his personal favourite flavours, “Darjeeling first flush white teas are exquisite in taste and character, very aromatic and flavourful. Also, I love jasmine green and assam masala chai blends made of natural ingredients.”

In his quest to bring great tea into the everyday life and provide tea lovers across the globe an easy access to the freshest tea, Kaushal, a tea enthusiast and passionate entrepreneur, quit his corporate job at KPMG. Already rated as the hottest start-ups in the food and tech category by New York Times, his teas are plucked, processed and packaged within one week using a cold chain process, ensuring the freshness. Kaushal shares of his journey, “After highschool in Siliguri, I won a scholarship to study Business at the Singapore Management University. After KPMG, I returned to Siliguri (heart of tea growing region) and decided to work for my elder brother who runs a tea export business that exposed me to another side, as the infrastructure to take the teas from gardens to the consumer was dated. I saw an opportunity for change. It was challenging as we were trying to disrupt in an industry which has hardly changed in the last 200 years.” Some of the new flavours include Oolong Tea, Nilgiri White Tea, Kashmiri Kahwa, Organic Green Tea, Mint Jubilee, Morning Dew, Mountain Rose, Earl Grey, Chamomlle Roy, Darjeeling Muscatel, Assam Black Tea, Organic Breakfast, Fresh Assam Masala Chai, Darjeeling Masala Chai and more. .

hindu businessline  |  JULY 21, 2016  |  By: Purvitha Chatrjee

RATAN TATA-BACKED TEA BOX BREWS AN OFFLINE MODEL

“India is still predominantly a CTC market for teas since most of the premium teas get exported. But Indians are beginning to develop finer taste and appreciate better teas. We may explore the kiosk model...

“India is still predominantly a CTC market for teas since most of the premium teas get exported. But Indians are beginning to develop finer taste and appreciate better teas. We may explore the kiosk model across high streets this year and go offline at some point of time,’’ said Kushal Dugar, Founder, Tea Box. With its teas range from ?600 to ?1.5 lakh, Tea Box which sources its teas from Siliguri, Nepal, and the southern States, is planning to build its tea business based on high-end teas leaves which have hitherto been exported.

Having worked for a tea export company, Dugar understands the nuances of supply chain and reaching the end consumer when it comes to selling tea online. Besides his background in corporate finance since the time he worked for KPMG in Singapore would also come in handy when it comes to funding requirements to take his start-up to the next level. “Today, we are well capitalised but once we decide to go offline, more funds would be required and there would be a desired pay back period,’’ he says. Taking the initiative to approach Ratan Tata for funds was a decision Dugar took on his own. “We just took an appointment with him and flew down to Mumbai and made him realise the potential of our business as we sat across a sofa. He was humble and down to earth and shared the same vision in terms of approaching the business with the kind of high end technology that we have in Tea Box,’’ added Dugar. Funded by Jafco Partners, Horizon Ventures and Accel Partners, Tea Box is already backed by billionaires from these firms who are connoisseurs of tea with Ratan Tata being the latest addition to its list of investors. “Ratan Tata understands the global tea business since he was around when Tetley was bought by his group company and has a penchant for high-end teas,’’ states Dugar. But creating demand for high-end teas may take a while in India since the bulk of its online sales comes from the US with no strong contender in the Indian market so far. As Dugar observes, “More than the rest of the Indian tea start-ups, our main competition will come from Teavana once it comes to India as it also has a thriving online business. Today, the US is our largest market followed by the UK, but India is still a small market"..

entrepreneur  |  JULY 13, 2016  |  By: Samiksha Jain

THIS SMALL TOWN BOY IS TURNING ITS CUSTOMERS INTO INVESTORS

Inception Founded in 2012 by Kaushal Dugar, this Siliguri-based company delivers fresh tea from Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri and Nepal to the entire world. By sourcing the highest quality teas directly from over 200 most capable...

Inception Founded in 2012 by Kaushal Dugar, this Siliguri-based company delivers fresh tea from Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri and Nepal to the entire world. By sourcing the highest quality teas directly from over 200 most capable and most interesting growers and estates, Venture makes it easy for anyone--from tea experts to complete novices--to experience all the freshness, aroma, flavor, and authenticity fine tea has to offer. "I think we are experiencing the second wave of e-commerce. The first wave consisted of large-scale e-commerce companies such as Flipkart or Amazon who were primarily solving for convenience. They did it by using levers such as price, selection and good, reliable customer support. However, they did not fully replace the existing retailers. TeaBox is part of a second generation that is focused on the vertical integration of manufacturing, branding, and distribution--while upending the traditional retail model in the process," said Dugar. div.

Returning back to Siliguri, after completing his higher studies, Dugar decided to work with his elder brother, who runs a tea export business. Working there showed him another side to the business from what he had seen with his father. On seeing the infrastructure that was being used to take the teas from gardens to the consumer and the challenges they faced helped him to carve his own way to cater this industry. "My experiences abroad helped me think like an outsider to the industry. This outsider thinking was important because it enabled me to wriggle free of the constricting assumptions of the industry insider. It also enabled me to import ideas and practices from other industries and cultures and apply them to every aspect of strategy. These skill sets, in combination with my first-hand experience with tea industry (given my family's background), were the driving forces behind setting up TeaBox," said Dugar. Funds Rolling In The Startup has raised an undisclosed round of funding with a TeaBox customer Cameron Jones, a Singapore-based Angel Investor, and Tea Connoisseur. Concurrently, TeaBox has also raised venture debt from DBS Bank Limited ("DBS"). One of the TeaBox's early backers, Robert Bass, was also originally a customer who was impressed by the freshness of the tea sold by TeaBox. Speaking about the journey from becoming an investor from being a customer, Cameron Jones, said, "I invested in TeaBox because I'm a big proponent of what they're doing in the tea space and love the attention to detail they have. TeaBox is well positioned to become the global premium tea brand in the world, and I'm excited to back them in growing their business on a global scale." The company plans to use the capital to expand its presence and fuel growth and innovation in global markets. Unveiling the strategy to lure investor, Dugar opined, "The quality of our products and the attention to detail is what converted two of our customers to become investors." Prior to this investment, Venture was backed by JAFCO Asia, Accel Partners, Keystone Group LP and Dragoneer Investment Group. What's more, Bring New Talent Onboard With the announcement of funding also comes the announcement of strategic hires at TeaBox. Nicole Naumoff brings 20 years of marketing and business leadership experience with global brands to TeaBox. She will lead TeaBox's marketing efforts including the launch of new products and partnerships, with a focus to build the brand in North America. Amit Sharma will lead technology at TeaBox. His strong understanding of usability, scalability, performance and optimization will ensure the TeaBox eCommerce platform is ready for growth. With Nicole's strategic marketing leadership and Amit's technological vision, TeaBox will be poised to take its global tea commerce business to greater heights. "We are thrilled to add leaders of Nicole and Amit's caliber and depth of experience to our team. Their track record of successfully bringing consumer focused products and services to market will help us to scale to our next level of growth," said Dugar. On A High Spirit Within 4 years of its existence, TeaBox has delivered over 35 million cups' worth of tea to customers in 94 countries. "When we started up, we decided to take the difficult road of turning things on its head- by setting up our presence at the source, by creating a genuine set of benefits for our consumers, by choosing to use technology to reach more consumers as opposed to a traditional brick and mortar set up. This meant owning and operating the entire value chain grounds-up, starting from farm to cup. This approach, we believe gives us the advantage of greater control over consumer experience, and hence will be very beneficial in the long run," said Dugar. .

businessworld  |  JUNE 09, 2016  |  By: BW online bureau

TEABOX RAISES FUNDING FROM CAMERON JONES

TBecoming an investor from being a customer, Cameron Jones, said, “I invested in Teabox because I'm a big proponent of what they're doing in the tea space and love the attention to detail they have....

TBecoming an investor from being a customer, Cameron Jones, said, “I invested in Teabox because I'm a big proponent of what they're doing in the tea space and love the attention to detail they have. Teabox is well positioned to become the global premium tea brand in the world, and I'm excited to back them in growing their business on a global scale." One of the Teabox's early backers, Robert Bass, was also originally a customer who was impressed by the freshness of the tea sold by Teabox.

TWith the announcement of funding also comes the announcement of strategic hires at Teabox. Nicole Naumoff brings 20 years of marketing and business leadership experience with global brands to Teabox. She will lead Teabox's marketing efforts including the launch of new products and partnerships, with a focus to build the brand in North America. Amit Sharma will lead technology at Teabox. His strong understanding of usability, scalability, performance and optimisation will ensure the Teabox e¬Commerce platform is ready for growth. With Nicole’s strategic marketing leadership and Amit’s technological vision, Teabox will be poised to take its global tea commerce business to greater heights. T“This capital will give us additional resources to expand quickly and strategically into new markets, innovate rapidly, and deliver on our vision around the world,” said Kaushal Dugar, Founder & CEO, Teabox. "We are thrilled to add leaders of Nicole and Amit’s caliber and depth of experience to our team. Their track record of successfully bringing consumer focused products and services to market will help us to scale to our next level of growth." TFor the tea industry, where the estates still run on ledgers designed in the British colonial era, Teabox is right out of the future. The company’s approach marks a clear departure from the norms of the tea industry. By applying innovations in design, supply chain and technology, customer’s across the globe are easily able to enjoy the freshest tea from the best tea gardens because of Teabox. .

huffington post  |  MAY 12, 2016  |  By: ANDREA WOROCH

TOP GIFTS & SAVINGS TIPS FOR ALL KINDS OF MOMS

To find a gift that counts and fits in your budget, consider her hobbies and lifestyle and then follow this guide of top gifts and savings tips for all kinds of moms. Athletic Mom If...

To find a gift that counts and fits in your budget, consider her hobbies and lifestyle and then follow this guide of top gifts and savings tips for all kinds of moms. Athletic Mom If your mom puts your workout game to shame, consider a gift inspired by her active lifestyle. A new gym bag from Activyst, for example, is a great gift that also gives back: 10% of the purchase price provides safe game transport for three girls in Nicaragua, the country from which the bag's materials are sourced. Additionally, sign up for the site's newsletter to receive 10% off. You can also find a selection of fitness gear for less at discount retailers like Marshalls and TJMaxx, including yoga mats, pilates DVDs and athletic clothing. Foodie Mom For mothers who love all things gastronomical, a basket brimming with unique goodies will make her drool. Mouth.com is a good source for hard-to-find treats and their Mother's Day gift guide features products for moms of every palate. To save 20% on your order, grab a Mouth promo code from CouponSherpa.com. Another gift idea is a home-cooked meal with a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant, so she can enjoy two meals with her favorite people!

Gardening Mom Moms who enjoy getting their hands dirty should not be given a basic bouquet of flowers. Instead, take advantage of spring gardening sales at home improvement stores and put together a bucket of essentials for a fun twist on a traditional gift basket. For example, organic potting soil can be fetched for as little as $3 from Lowe's, while Home Depot shoppers can find special pricing on annuals, small fruit trees and other spring blooms. Wonder Mom The mom with mile-long to-do lists who still finds time to watch your kids or listen to you vent about work deserves a timeout. Channel your inner child and put together a homemade beauty recipe for a body scrub, face mask or hair treatment made with products from your pantry. Pair this item with a gift certificate from SpaFinder, which you can purchase for 20% off from Costco. For moms who prefer to decompress with a cup of tea, a pretty gift box with four delicious teas from TeaBox will hit the spot (and won't break the bank at just $25!). All-Natural Mom Gifts for the naturalist can range from earth-based products to a pampering session featuring all-natural treatments. Since Mother's Day is a big event for beauty providers, there are plenty of deals featuring discounts and free gifts. For example, Origins is offering the Power Anti-Agers Gift Set for $65 (valued at over $100), plus three free deluxe samples and a cosmetics bag with $45 purchase. For all-natural pampering sessions, consult Groupon or LivingSocial for daily deals from local spas and salons. Fashion-Forward Mom The mom whose style you emulate should receive something fashionable on Mother's Day. Since she likely has a particular taste, opt for an accessory over an apparel item, unless you know she's been eyeing a specific garment. Fossil is offering free embossing and engraving in-store and online through May 1, enabling shoppers to customize classic watches, clutches and other accessories. Another option is the Village Ways Cashmere Wool Scarf from Ann Taylor, sourced from female artisans in the Himalayas and currently on sale for 50% off. Tech-y Mom The gadget lover will always welcome new tech products designed to make life easier, or at the very least more fun. Gift these moms with an Olliclip 4-in-1 Lens, the iPhone camera add-on that offers fisheye, wide-angle and macro 10x and 15x capabilities to her smartphone's camera. If gadget research leaves you feeling underwhelmed, there's always the go-to gift of a new smartphone or tablet cover. Find your mom's favorite art or customize a cover with photos of her family. Receive 25% off photo gifts from Walgreens, or get a case for yourself too from SkinIt and buy one, get one 50% off. .

bon appetit  |  MAY 12, 2016  |  By: Alex Begga

THE ABSOLUTE LAST-MINUTE MOTHER’S DAY GIFT THAT WILL SAVE YOUR A**

Sure, it's the thought that counts—and you've been relying on elaborate Kroger bouquets with sloppily handwritten cards for the past 10 years. Amazon gift cards delivered by email...are always an option, a cold option that...

Sure, it's the thought that counts—and you've been relying on elaborate Kroger bouquets with sloppily handwritten cards for the past 10 years. Amazon gift cards delivered by email...are always an option, a cold option that will probably be used for something essential. And essential is no fun. So this year, we've got the perfect solution that still manages to be a lazy click away. Don't open the tab and "get to it later," get it over with now. THEN get the flowers and card because you can't show up empty-handed. Teabox. Teabox is an Indian company that vacuum-seals tea leaves and delivers them to the tea-swilling masses all over the globe.

It's insanely fresh tea. We're sipping on the Jasmine Jade right now, and the leaves have unfurled and look like sea creatures at the bottom of our thermos (that's a good thing.) Fancy tea is always a great gift, but Teabox also has a subscription service—that's the fun part and the key to this gift. Because as a new personalized box of tea or three arrives every month, mom will think of you and forget that whole thing about the beach house fiasco last summer. It's subliminal messaging, really. Other pros: •She'll get a "kick" out of filling out the questionnaire. •The questionnaire will mean the tea she gets is stuff she'll dig, and not some Christmas-tree flavored mystery tea that no one likes. No one. •The packaging tells you how to brew it, what to mix it with (if anything), how much caffeine is in it, what it's made from, even the palate. Lots of information for tea drinkers from novice to pro. •There are different levels of subscription so she won't be stuck with a gigantic pyramid of tea that she'll eventually pawn off on you the next time you're over. •Once she opens the teas, they'll last a whole year. Damn. •It's fun to get stuff in the mail. Especially surprises. Oh, your mom is a COFFEE, person? Stumptown, boom. Sign her up for a coffee subscription—roaster's pick is full of surprises. .

the indian express  |  APRIL 13, 2016  |  By: Prathima Shantaveeresh

HOW TO MAKE 35 MILLION CUPS OF TEA WELL

How long the tea takes to reach you, the estate it comes from, the time of the year, and even the kettle in which you infuse the leaves matter. This startup helps you from start...

How long the tea takes to reach you, the estate it comes from, the time of the year, and even the kettle in which you infuse the leaves matter. This startup helps you from start to finish. Here’s a helpful tip from Dugar: “To get the real taste of tea, it’s best to infuse loose tea leaves in warm water.” Dugar’s passion to explore the tea industry in India drove him to start Teabox.com. The Business Management graduate from the Singapore Management University, aims at supplying freshest teas from places in India like Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri, and from Nepal to the entire world. He says that usually tea takes six months to reach consumers from the gardens. “Tea travels through six to seven stages which includes people who buy the tea from gardens, the ones who pack it, distributors and retailers. But, we make it available to consumers in about a week’s time,” he says. “That is because we source teas directly from the growers and estates in India and Nepal and ship it to the customer directly,” he says. This is also his way to make people taste the freshest tea produced in the country. .

Started in 2012, the company has so far shipped over 35 million cups worth of tea to customers in 93 countries around the world and the number increases every day. Kushal observes that there has been transformation in the way people consume tea in last one year. Not everyone likes plain tea. To make it suitable to everyone’s palate, Kushal has also devised 250 tea blends with the help of three experts in Siliguri, where the production unit is located. The blends include flavours like aam panna, strawberry, orange and mint. However, for newbies, he recommends any Autumn Flush teas. “They are more palatable,” he says. Apart from these they supply 150 single-estate teas. To understand which flavours you would like, take a quiz on the website. Based on your answers, which would be a reflection of your taste in food and aromas, Teabox will help you pick one. Teas cost `6,000-7,000 per kg. They also have monthly subscription plans for ones who would like to buy tea from them regularly. One can buy it with the right type of kettle to infuse the tea in the best way, from their website. Other accessories used to store tea and serve them are also available. .

the straits times  |  MARCH 20, 2016  |  By: Eunice Quek

GOODIES IN A BOX AT YOUR DOORSTEP: MORE F&B BUSINESSES OFFERING SUBSCRIPTION PACKAGES

First, there were speciality grocers doing home deliveries of fruit, vegetables and seafood. Now, business owners are moving towards a niche market, offering sake, whisky, Japanese snacks and artisanal coffee. Customers who subscribe to such...

First, there were speciality grocers doing home deliveries of fruit, vegetables and seafood. Now, business owners are moving towards a niche market, offering sake, whisky, Japanese snacks and artisanal coffee. Customers who subscribe to such services do it mainly for the convenience, as the items are delivered regularly or when needed. Subscription packages for a month and up to a year are available. And to encourage subscribers to continue with the programme, business owners may offer exclusive or limited-edition products that are unlikely to be found anywhere else. Whisky Butler, for instance, offers subscribers four 20ml sample bottles of whisky every month. Customers who like what they try can buy full bottles from its online shop. The service starts at $74 a month for a one-year subscription. Co-owner Benjamin Tan, 31, says: "We want to encourage people to go beyond familiar brands." Similarly, Japanese snack subscription service Kimochbox sends consumers a variety of snacks every month so they can decide which ones they want to buy in larger quantities. It costs from $13 a box for a one-year subscription. The service is a tie-up with Japanese snack chain Yamakawa Super, which recently launched its online supermarket site. Kimochbox founder Zhang Bun Bun, 33, says: "Our sample portions let people try a variety of snacks without worrying about wastage."

She has plans to sell Japanese cooking ingredients, instant noodles and rice on Kimochbox. To give consumers more freedom, Ms Faye Victoria Sit, 24, co-founder of Hook Coffee, does not tie them down to a fixed subscription. Customers decide the frequency of delivery and are charged only when the coffee is delivered. Prices start at $18 for a 250g bag of coffee. She says Hook has shipped more than 500 bags of coffee and has more than 300 subscribers. One of the earlier entrants into subscription services is The French Cellar, which was launched in 2013. It sells exclusive wines from France selected by sommelier Nicolas Rebut. The French Cellar's chief executive officer Vincent Morello, 32, says: "We are seeing a steady increase in business. We have already shipped more than 10,000 boxes containing two bottles each and launched in Shanghai at the end of last year. "As long as a subscription service is unique and reasonably priced and has strong re-order potential, then the business has a chance." And things are set to get sweeter. Looking to launch a surprise box concept next month is Mr Malvin Chiam, 24, co-founder of Unicandy, a new start-up that sells candy from all over the world. The boxes are priced at $17.90, $27.90 and $37.90 for a month's worth of sweets. Indeed, consumers are enjoying such niche subscription services. Teacher Low Kian Seh, 37, who signed up for fortnightly delivery of drip bags from Hook Coffee, says: "I first ordered to sample the coffee and I liked it. Ten bags cost $18 and I think it is worth it." Marketing manager Allan Ma, 23, who subscribes to Kimochbox, says: "I am very happy to have more than 10 types of snacks to try without worrying about wasting food. "It's also a nice surprise every first week of the month because I never know what's going to be in the box." KIMOCHBOX What: Those who love Japanese snacks can get monthly samples of 10 to 12 items from Kimochbox. Instead of buying whole bags of chocolates and sweets, subscribers get sample portions of the items. The company collaborates with Japanese speciality store Yamakawa Super, which has outlets at Suntec City and The Central in Clarke Quay. Yamakawa Super has recently launched its online delivery platform so customers who like the snacks in the boxes can buy the full-sized versions there. Special boxes can be customised for celebrations or corporate events. Plans to sell other Japanese products such as sauces and instant noodles are in the pipeline. Price: From $13 a box (one-year subscription) to $15 (pay every month) Info: www.kimochbox.com HOOK COFFEE What: Get your fix of artisanal coffee with Hook Coffee. Unlike other subscription services, which have fixed weekly, monthly or yearly deliveries, you can manage the frequency of deliveries using Hook's Coffee Calculator during the online check-out. Answer some quick questions to determine the flavours you like in your coffee and your preferred brewing style and Hook will also recommend a suitable coffee. The company offers beans from India, El Salvador and Colombia. A house blend, made with beans from Brazil and Mexico, is also available. You can buy whole beans or get them ground on demand and calibrated to work with various brew methods such as an espresso machine and French press. Do not own any equipment? Opt for its drip bags instead. The beans are shipped within the week of roasting and the dates are indicated on the website. Price: $18 (250g bag that makes up to 15 cups of espresso), $18 (pack of 10 drip coffee pouches) Info: www.hookcoffee.com.sg PINT SOCIETY What: Enter couch potato mode with ice cream delivered to your door step. The current flavour is Tiramisu, with coffee-soaked sponge finger biscuits. Previous flavours include Hazelnut Bomb, with hazelnut gelato, crushed hazelnuts, chocolate cake and 74 per cent chocolate-covered cornflakes; and Black & White, which is chocolate gelato (with 80 per cent couverture chocolate) with white chocolate truffles mixed in. Next month's flavour will be released on April 11. Price: From $29 a month (one-year subscription) to $38 (pay every month) Info: www.pintsociety.rocks SAKEMARU What: As the sake scene here continues to grow, seek out more unusual types of sake via Sakemaru. Launched in January, it is run by Mr Taichi Abe, a sake sommelier and distributor of sake in Singapore. He also opened a sake bar in January at Tampopo in Ngee Ann City. Next month's sake selection is the Tokubetsu Junmai Hattan Nishiki Nama Genshu from the Tempoichi brewery in Fukuyamashi, Hiroshima. Price: $50 a month for a bottle of sake, $100 a month for two bottles Info: sakemaru.me/sg/ WHISKY BUTLER What: Instead of paying for a bottle of whisky that may not be to your liking, sign up with Whisky Butler, which delivers four 20ml sample bottles a month. If you like what you taste, you can buy the full bottle from its website. Each month's selection has a theme, such as Scottish whiskies in February and Japanese whiskies this month. Next month's picks come from the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland, with 18- to 23-year-old whiskies. Price: From $74 a month (one-year subscription) to $88 (pay every month) Info: www.whiskybutler.sg TEABOX What: Do a quick quiz on your tea preferences and the "prediction engine" will pick out teas for you - from black tea to chai. There is also a wide selection of single estate teas. More exotic flavours under its "new arrivals" section include Mango Turmeric Tang and Apple Florentine. The online site also retails the tea in sample packs and sells tea accessories. Price: From $28.48 for a Tea Lover plan (100g of three types of tea) Info: www.teabox.com.

the business times  |  JANUARY 28, 2016  |  By: Jacqueline Choak

TWO HOMEGROWN STARTUPS BAG VENTURE-CAPITAL FUNDING FROM OVERSEAS

Teabox, a specialty tea company founded by SMU alumnus Kaushal Dugar announced yesterday that it has raised venture-capital funding from abroad, in a sign that global investors are seeing value in local enterprises and innovation....

Teabox, a specialty tea company founded by SMU alumnus Kaushal Dugar announced yesterday that it has raised venture-capital funding from abroad, in a sign that global investors are seeing value in local enterprises and innovation.

The company has won an undisclosed round of financing from Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, the holding company of Tata Group. Mr Dugar noted that this is the first investment in a tea startup by the Indian business magnate and that the amount will be used for marketing, customer acquisition and hiring. Founded in 2012, Teabox had raised at least US$7 million in previous funding from Jafco Asia, Accel Partners, Keystone Group LP and Dragoneer Investment Group. .

cnn  |  JANUARY 28, 2016  |  By: CNN

THE SILK ROUTE: PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

Watch CNN's Special Show 'The Silk Route: Past, Present & Future' to know how Teabox is using modern technology to revitalize the old tea industry.

Watch CNN's Special Show 'The Silk Route: Past, Present & Future' to know how Teabox is using modern technology to revitalize the old tea industry.

techinasia  |  JANUARY 27, 2016  |  By: Malavika Yelavanikal

5 RISING STARTUPS IN INDIA

Teabox Teabox is out to disrupt the supply chain in tea, which is a US$40 billion industry. It sources high grade teas directly from plantations in Darjeeling, Assam, and the Nilgiri hills in India, as...

Teabox Teabox is out to disrupt the supply chain in tea, which is a US$40 billion industry. It sources high grade teas directly from plantations in Darjeeling, Assam, and the Nilgiri hills in India, as well as tea estates in Nepal. Tea lovers from 93 countries can order these teas from the Teabox portal. And today, it announced an undisclosed amount of investment from Indian biz tycoon Ratan Tata.

Ratan Tata is a respected name in India, where several business tycoons are tarnished with the brush of crony capitalism. After his retirement in late 2012, he has been investing in startups. From China’s Xiaomi to Bangalore’s Tracxn, Tata has made a series of good bets. Are modern Indians thinking why own when we can rent? It’s still too early to say if India is moving towards an asset-light, rental economy. But several startups and investors sure seem to think so. The latest such startup to raise capital is Bangalore’s WhatsOnRent. It’s a marketplace where you can rent everything from washing machines to treadmills and Playstations. Today it announced that it has raised a round of angel funding. Commonfloor co-founder Lalit Mangal, Excubator co-founder Neeraj Gupta, angel investor Sanjay Gupta, and Bangalore-based software company Nixel Technology participated in the round. The startup was founded in September last year by technologists Sulabh Jain, Shreyans Shrimali, and Bharat Goyal. “I am a big believer of a future of accessibility, and WhatsOnRent’s mission to contribute into that got me excited,” said Lalit Mangal, who is mentoring the team. In India, it’s no joy if you have to renovate your house or construct a new one. Sourcing bricks, pipes, and other construction material is tough because there’s no one-stop shop for them. So you end up at the mercy of contractors and builders who will claim their pound of flesh. Young ecommerce marketplace Buildzar solves this problem. You can not only shop for cement to paints and bathroom fittings, it also has a tool you can use to estimate the construction cost, time, and quantity of material you need to buy. The Gurgaon-based startup has raised US$4 million in a pre-series A round of funding from Puneet Dalmia, managing director of Dalmia Bharat Group. The startup claims to clock 750-800 orders on a monthly basis, with steel and cement being the leading categories, VC Circle reports. .

bloomberg  |  JANUARY 16, 2016  |  By: Yoolim Lee

RATAN TATA BACKS START-UP TEABOX, TURNING ACTIVE VENTURE INVESTOR IN RETIREMENT

Tata is putting an undisclosed amount of money into Teabox, an Indian start-up based in the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s the latest of about 25 personal investments that he has made in start-ups, helping...

Tata is putting an undisclosed amount of money into Teabox, an Indian start-up based in the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s the latest of about 25 personal investments that he has made in start-ups, helping spark an e-commerce boom in India along the way. His investments include stakes in three of India’s unicorns, or start-ups worth more than $1 billion, the ride-hailing app Ola, online retailer Snapdeal and a mobile payment venture called Paytm. He has also put money into Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp., the most highly valued start-up in Asia. Separately, he has joined three venture capital firms—IDG Ventures, Kalaari Capital and Jungle Ventures—as an adviser.

“We’re very excited because it’s a validation of our business from one of the most iconic businessmen of India,”said Teabox founder and chief executive officer Kaushal Dugar. Tata has a history of pioneering business strategy. He was chairman of Tata Group when it cut what was then the biggest takeover in Indian corporate history. In 2000, Tata Tea Ltd acquired the UK’s Tetley Tea, which was the inventor of the teabag and three times its size. Tata said at the time he hoped other Indian firms would follow, and some did. Teabox, which was founded in 2012, raised $6 million from investors that included Texas billionaire Robert M. Bass and Accel Partners in the latest round in 2015. Teabox works with 150 plantations in Darjeeling, Assam and Nepal. Teas go to the firm’s cold storage within 48 hours of production where they are vacuum packed and shipped to customers around the world in about a week, according to Dugar. Traditionally it takes three to six months for the teas to reach consumers. Bloomberg. .

cnbc  |  DECEMBER 01, 2015  |  By: Nyshka Chandran

CHAI AS IT MIGHT, COFFEE CAN'T TOPPLE TEA IN INDIA

Earlier this month, Coffee Day Enterprises—the operator of homegrown chain Cafe Coffee Day (CCD)—raised $175 million in an initial public offering that was more than 1.8 times subscribed. With a pre-IPO valuation of around $1...

Earlier this month, Coffee Day Enterprises—the operator of homegrown chain Cafe Coffee Day (CCD)—raised $175 million in an initial public offering that was more than 1.8 times subscribed. With a pre-IPO valuation of around $1 billion, the company's institutional investors included the likes of BlackRock India and Merrill Lynch Capital. Despite shares falling on the first day of trade, the hype was a reflection of CCD's hugely popular brand. With more than 1,000 cafes country-wide, it's now a household name in Asia's third largest economy. While coffee has traditionally been dominant in India's south, where it is known as filter coffee, the drink gained nation-wide popularity in the early 2000s amid a cafe culture boom that some say mirrored the growth of India's tech sectors. .

Aside from CCD, other popular coffee joints include domestic firm Barista and global giants Costa Coffee and Starbucks. The latter entered the Indian market in 2012 and has 75 stores to date. The explosive growth of well-known chains is indicative of an increasingly wealthy Indian middle class that is looking to embrace Western trends. New Delhi hopes to top 8 percent economic growth next year and multinationals of all stripes are eyeing the opportunities offered by a newly monied group of consumers. Still, coffee has yet to eat into tea's market share. On an annual per capita basis, Indians drank 15.6 cups of coffee in 2014 and 16.6 cups so far this year, Sanjeev Raikar, research analyst at Euromonitor International, told CNBC. That pales in comparison to 163.7 cups of tea in 2014 and 176.6 cups this year, he said. "Though there has definitely been an increase in the number of cafes and coffee specialist retailers such as CCD, such cafés are frequented by young consumers mainly. So, coffee is definitely gaining popularity, however only amongst a small set of consumers." He doesn't expect coffee to overcome tea as India's most popular drink anytime soon. While the country may be the world's sixth-biggest coffee producer, with production for the 2015-16 year expected to hit a record high, domestic demand isn't fuelling growth. At least three-quarters of output goes to exports, with Italy, Germany and Belgium among the top buyers, according to Reuters. Even with the increase in output, exports siphon large amounts of coffee away from the domestic market so consumption estimates have remained largely unchanged in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Moreover, the type of coffee being consumed is important. While there is a growing cafe culture, nearly all Indian coffee is consumed at home or in traditional street stalls as instant coffee, said Dhruv Sood, agricultural specialist at the USDA. However, many popular instant coffee brands contain a lower count of naked coffee beans, an international measurement called green bean equivalent (GBE), compared to ground coffee. Over the longer term, Indian coffee consumption will only increase significantly once the use of ground coffee becomes more common since it contains a higher percentage of GBE, Sood explained. News this month that the government allowed 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in several plantation crops, including coffee, from only tea previously, could have an impact on the java market but for now, it's too early to speculate, Raikar said. Going forward, the rise of tea-related businesses could see consumption of the drink explode even further and cap coffee's growth. .

Indians presently consume the lowest-grade quality of crush-tear-curl (CTC) tea—one of the most common production methods—for their chai, explained Kaushal Dugar, founder of e-commerce venture Teabox. One of the main goals of his Bangalore-headquartered business, which sells premier tea from the Assam, Darjeeling and Kangra regions of northern India to customers across the globe, is to upgrade the type of brew customers sip. "We are consciously trying to change this tea drinking culture from lowest quality to better quality of tea. India is one of our fastest growing markets and we think it will soon be in our top 5 regarding revenue contribution," he told CNBC.
indian express  |  NOVEMBER 05, 2015  |  By: Rishabh Raj

THIS DIWALI, GIFT ORGANIC AND UTILITARIAN

“It’s not just this season but for past couple of seasons, while we are asked for Diwali gifting range, the clients prefer things that are natural and organic. Moreover, the stress is on the utility...

“It’s not just this season but for past couple of seasons, while we are asked for Diwali gifting range, the clients prefer things that are natural and organic.

Moreover, the stress is on the utility of the product, that’s the reason it’s no more a photo frame or a box of candle, but something that one can use on daily basis,” says Varun Narula of Gaurav Chauhan Events, which organises Diwali events and corporate gifts.With this diktat in mind, here are five organic and utilitarian gifting options for this Diwali. TEA TREAT This festive season, start a new tradition of celebrating special occasions over cups of tea. Teabox offers 100 per cent hand-picked teas from the finest plantations in Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiris and Nepal. The gift box, Golden Moments, is a selection of hand-crafted blends in flavours such as rose, marigold, almonds, fruits and spices. The box includes six flavours -Indian Marigold, Sweet Melody, Mint Jubilee, Spice Sparkler, Kesar Delight Chai and Mountain Rose. .

midday  |  OCTOBER 30, 2015  |  By: Supritha Mitter

E-COMMERCE START-UP DELIVERING DESI TEA WORLDWIDE

Rated as one of the hottest start-ups in the food and tech category and Internet Retailer of the Year — Food & Drinks (2015) by World Retail Congress 2015, it has already delivered 30 million...

Rated as one of the hottest start-ups in the food and tech category and Internet Retailer of the Year — Food & Drinks (2015) by World Retail Congress 2015, it has already delivered 30 million cups of tea, in two years to over 90 countries including regions such as Federated States of Micronesia, Chile, Argentina, Fiji and Ural Mountains (Siberia). Tea off “The tea industry is one of the oldest industries and Teabox is trying to give this industry a Silicon Valley Makeover,” says Kaushal Dugar, CEO, Teabox. Giving us the back-story, he reveals, “I was born in Siliguri, a town in the Darjeeling district. If you’re living in Siliguri, it’s likely that you are doing something with tea as it’s the biggest industry there. My father’s business was related to tea garden supplies and equipment. As a young kid, I would accompany him on his visits during school holidays. I loved it. The huge machines in the estate factories fascinated me. I thought it was magical — the process where a small young green leaf turns into a delicious drink,” he recalls.

Teabox, a two-year-old e-commerce start-up is opening up the $30 billion tea industry with its innovations in technology and supply chains. They’ve delivered 30 million cups of tea to tea lovers across 90 countries including Micronesia, Chile, Argentina and even Iraq. We chart the trail What’s different? “At Teabox, we visit the tea gardens, taste and select the teas we want to sell. The teas are vacuum packed to retain freshness. We source our teas from some of the best tea gardens in Darjeeling, Assam, the Nilgiri, Kangra, Sikkim and even Nepal. We want our customers to know where we are sourcing the teas from, the date of plucking, tasting notes, garden details, etc. Traditionally, tea moves from a garden to an auction house. Various distributors sample the teas and an auction date is set typically a month after the production. In this interim of a month the tea is stored in poorly conditioned warehouses. Post auction, the exporter ships the tea to his big importer connections through the ships,” he informs. He adds, “The tea reaches the importer in about 1-2 months depending on the distance and custom clearance. At this point, it is three months from the production of that fresh tea back. Post this the importer sells it to wholesalers who in turn might sell it to retailers who would eventually sell it to the end consumer. This process takes another one-two months. Overall, it takes three-six months for the teas to actually reach the end consumer. We are making the search for premium teas easy, accessible and a very pleasant one,” reveals Dugar. New age Recently, the company launched the world’s first ‘Personalised Tea Subscription Service’. This first-of-its-kind program is powered by Teabox’s patent-pending machine-learning technology that personalises and matches every individual’s tastes to a selection of teas. The Teabox subscription programme empowers tea drinkers to choose the kinds of tea they would enjoy. This is done by breaking down tea into 75 different attributes such as aroma, astringency, strength, body, etc., into objective components, which are matched to user preferences, habits and taste characteristics. How it works “Tea estates send over their tea samples, which are then evaluated by our expert tea tasting team. We have also invested in setting up a rigorous, quality-checking environment, which ensures that only the best quality leaves are selected and stored in temperature and humidity controlled facilities. The orders, which ship within 24 hours of order, are packaged in opaque, vacuum packaging protecting them from sunlight and the environment outside during the transit. Regardless of the location around the world, buyers receive their tea packs within just 3-5 business days,” Dugar explains. Around the World Teabox’s primary target markets are the English speaking developed markets (US, UK, Canada & Australia) and CIS region (ex-USSR Countries). They intend to expand into China, Japan and South Korea this quarter. The list of countries they have already shipped to include those that ordinarily do not figure in the list of tea-importing countries, such as, the Micronesian islands, Chile, Argentina and even Iraq. “All the traditionally large tea companies have continued to operate within the constraints of the legacy value chain. Most of the new tea brands too seem to be just putting a new spin on the last mile delivery,” he adds. Match this Talking about competition and challenges Dugar confesses, “You can call the high-end tea salons our competition. We live and thrive in a segment that is rich in opportunity, but it is also very competitive. It becomes essential for us to keep innovating to offer genuine benefits to our consumers. Most people told us that tea couldn’t be sold online. It is a product that people touch, feel, and smell before buying. Changing this mind set was one of the biggest challenges we faced. We believed that while coffee and wine can be sold online, there is enough scope for tea to be sold too.” What’s your favourite Chai? Darjeeling spring flush and summer flush are most in demand, while the teas from Assam and Nilgiri also seem to be catching up soon. The R&D team at Teabox consists of food technologists and blenders. Currently the website lists over fifty blends created in-house. Customers in the US prefer Darjeeling Teas, whereas in Russia, they prefer the Assam or Second Flush Darjeeling teas. Countries like Fiji prefer Oolong and Green, Iraqis opt for White and Black teas, Slovenia prefers Black teas. Darjeeling Oolongs are preferred in all countries. .

food & hospitality world  |  OCTOBER 29, 2015  |  By: Sudiptha Dev

CUTTING-EDGE CUP OF CHEER

Established in 2012, Teabox is an Indian startup that is charting a different strategy in the traditional Indian tea marketplace. The company, that today exports the finest Indian teas to more than 80 countries across...

Established in 2012, Teabox is an Indian startup that is charting a different strategy in the traditional Indian tea marketplace. The company, that today exports the finest Indian teas to more than 80 countries across the world is leveraging on technology to reach a global audience and enable quick delivery. Kaushal Dugar, founder and CEO, Teabox is proud of the fact that his organisation is run more as a technology company than a tea company. Dugar comes from a family that has been in the tea business for more than seven decades. “Having grown up in Siliguri with weekends spent in Darjeeling amongst the lush green plantations, I realised over a period of time is that this is one industry that has not changed much in the last 100 to 200 years. In fact it is a legacy of the British Raj and things were being done the same way. I realised that what has not changed was its location in Bengal and far from innovation and tech hubs of Gurgaon, Chennai, Pune and Bengaluru. It was aloof from the rest of India, also people who are decision makers in the industry are 60 plus,” says Dugar.

Pointing out that even in today’s age, between production to consumption, the time taken is between three to six months, which should not happen, he asserts that it should reach the end consumer in the shortest period of time. Dugar explains that there are five to seven intermediaries between the producer and the consumer (for example auctioneer, importer, retailer, etc). By the time the consumer receives his tea, no matter where he is in this world, most of its freshness has also gone as tea is a perishable product. “I realised there could be a big business opportunity if I could deliver teas fresh within days of production to consumers from around the world. That was the genesis of Teabox,” adds Dugar. He started with Darjeeling teas as Darjeeling is one of the most well known Indian teas and people across the world are familiar with it. Earlier the site used to be called Darjeeling Tea Express and within few months it got a lot of traction from English speaking countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. “Consumers who were connoisseurs and have been drinking tea for 20-30 years gave us the feedback that they were unaware that Darjeeling tea could be so good. That’s when we realised the potential in the market and not just for Darjeeling tea but also Assam, Nilgiri, Nepal and Kangra teas,” he says. Teabox became the first tea company in India to raise professional venture capital – a million dollar seed round from Accel Partners (one of the world’s leading VC firms). “We want to emerge as India’s leading global tea brand,” states Dugar, adding that, the value chain of the industry is such that they are very happy selling it to the next person and the supply chain. “Our focus is to deliver the world’s freshest tea and leverage the internet to reach out to consumers in more than 80 countries and in the process create India’s first global brand. Over the last two and a half years we have shipped more than 30 million cups of tea to customers across the world,” he mentions. Following the funding, Teabox opened another office in Bengaluru from where marketing, technology, customer service operate. The company grew about ten times last year and raised about Rs 40 crore from a global group of investors including a customer who is not just a hardcore tea connoisseur but also the founder of one of the world’s largest private equity company. Subscription engine Teabox recently launched a subscription system for tea enthusiasts and novices to solve the problem of tea discovery. “The kind of teas we deal with, only a few people are able to differentiate. Most people do not know what is a first flush, or what is a Muscatel,” reminds Dugar. Being a technology company, he and his team came up with a solution to solve the problem. “We started researching and realised that wine which is in certain ways a similar industry, people have used technology. We have created the world’s first personalised tea subscription engine. While people might not know anything about tea they will certainly know about their taste and palate. We ask four-five questions which gives us an idea about of the customer’s taste and palate. We ask what kind of chocolates they like (bitter, milk), smells (flowers, fruits, wet earth), all these questions help us build a personal palate profile of every customer. On the tea side every single tea is analysed on 75 attributes. Once a customer gives his answers, our algorithm comes up with the answer that matches his palate almost 75 per cent.” The machine learning technology breaks down subjective words like ‘floral’, ‘sweet’ and ‘astringent’ into over 75 quantifiable attributes. The whole solution is technology driven – it is a machine learning algorithm. It is an inhouse software developed by a team of product managers, engineers and designers. The teas are sent in a beautiful curated box to the customer. “Once you taste the teas you give us the feedback. The feedback again goes to the engine which now has a better idea of your palate profile. By the time the third and fourth subscription delivery is made, the tea selection is fine tuned as per the machine learning algorithm,” informs Dugar. The data of thousands of consumers who are giving feedback on a monthly basis is also compared. Over a period of time Teabox can give a tea to subscribers which is close to their taste than any other tea company in the world. “We recently tried for a patent as well,” adds Dugar. Teabox is looking at converting novices into connoisseurs of tea. Being an industry where the consumption is primarly outside India, the company is looking at aggressively reaching new markets. Currently apart from the US, Russia is one of the biggest markets. The company has just gone into China, and going forward will enter Korea and Japan. Dugar informs that when Teabox enters new markets it creates an entirely localised website. People of Russian and Chinese nationalities work in its office in Bengaluru. “We have partnered with fulfilment centres in Russia so that using technology we can move the products faster and deliver quickly. For the next few years we want to increase focus in those countries as well as increase subscription to cater to a larger segment of tea enthusiasts and novices,” remarks Dugar. Teabox exports 95 per cent of the production, and five per cent consumed in India. The company is constantly investing in infrastructure. A few months ago the company opened the first cold storage for tea in Siliguri. According to Dugar there are four main enemies of tea – oxygen, light, moisture and temperature. And if all these four elements are not arrested within 24 to 48 hours of production, the quality of tea and freshness deteriorates. At Teabox, tea is got directly from plantations within 24 to 48 hours. Quality control and cleaning is done and then the tea is stored in cold storage in vacuum packs at -5 degrees. “Even if the tea is consumed after two years it is as good as produced yesterday. We are only able to do that because of our presence at source and our investment in technology and infrastructure,” he says. Teabox is also looking at the hospitality space in the near future, in particular high-end luxury hotels in India and overseas. New innovative packages and accessories, corporate gifting are the other new initiatives. Next January, Dugar is also looking at opening kiosks in select locations in India and overseas. .

forbes  |  SEPTEMBER 28, 2015  |  By: Sarita Rai

WITH TECHNOLOGY, INDIA'S TEA INDUSTRY STIRS ITSELF INTO THE MODERN ERA

However, unlike producers of fabled French wines and Scottish whiskeys who have kept up with their market while preserving traditional techniques, Indian teamaking mostly has remained frozen in time. Much of it dates to the...

However, unlike producers of fabled French wines and Scottish whiskeys who have kept up with their market while preserving traditional techniques, Indian teamaking mostly has remained frozen in time. Much of it dates to the British colonizers who brought in the tea bushes and pioneered the first commercial cultivation of tea outside of China. Since then the tea industry, whether in family estates or company-owned tea plantations, has seen surprisingly few changes. Aside from a significant presence of the world’s largest tea producers, Unilever (Lipton) and India’s Tata (Tetley), little of the raucous change of the Indian urban economy seems to have touched the area.

The sumptuous homes of the estate owners and managers contrast starkly with the humble mud houses of the workers, lending a hierarchical, almost feudal feel. In today’s competitive international marketplace fragrant Indian teas are considered delicate and exclusive but have been overshadowed by brews from smaller producers such as Kenya and Sri Lanka. However this year, climate change has affected tea production in Kenya and pushed up global tea prices and this might work to the advantage of India’s tea industry. Online disruption is looming, through retailers such as Teabox, based in Siliguri in Darjeeling. Its formula for modernizing the dilapidated supply chain: Ship the output of small producers under its own online brand, cutting the time from tea garden to teacups around the globe from months to mere days. With the backing of investors such as Silicon Valley’s Accel Partners, Teabox boasts a personalized tea subscription: Customers take a short online quiz that reveals their preferences and habits, which an algorithm then converts into a selection. Perhaps technology can help age-old Indian brews reclaim their rightful place in the global tea pantheon. .

smart ceo  |  SEPTEMBER 01, 2015  |  By: Divya M Chandramouli

BREWING UP A TEA STORM

We begin talking and Dugar states, “It’s amazing how people in India drink chai and think that is good tea! I wouldn’t touch the tea that’s available in the mass market here with a barge...

We begin talking and Dugar states, “It’s amazing how people in India drink chai and think that is good tea! I wouldn’t touch the tea that’s available in the mass market here with a barge pole.” (I rephrase his sentiment to make it more print friendly). This is such a resounding reality check to the way I start each morning as tea does for me what coffee does for the rest of south India. I prod further on what he considers a good cuppa and Dugar is insistent on the fact that tea is best only at its freshest. That’s why his company has braved a change and done away with distribution intermediaries to deliver the freshest tea to its end-consumers. It’s a change that has challenged the way the tea industry has functioned for decades in India and Dugar is best positioned to fully comprehend its magnitude. He grew up in Siliguri, West Bengal, surrounded by luscious tea plantations and his growing years served as an education in understanding tea as his family business dealt with tea plantation supplies. Life took its course and Dugar went to Singapore to pursue an undergraduate degree and, subsequently, worked in the corporate finance sector. But the urge to start a business of his own brought him back home in 2010. “I began by working in tea export to understand valuation and identify pain points that could lead to a viable business idea. One of my first observations was that this industry has not changed in 150 years, things are done the same way since the British, and the cycle of production to consumption takes up to six months with five to six intermediaries in operation,” he says. Dugar adds that his business idea began taking shape around the thought of sourcing and exporting fresh tea to the end-consumer and the only way to achieve this was to cut out the intermediaries.

Going fresh online In 2012, Dugar created Darjeelingteaexpress.com, an online portal that exported Darjeeling tea worldwide. Production, post production and packaging was set up in Siliguri and the end result got fantastic feedback from consumers. “Our process begins with sourcing the tea, bringing it into our sourcing centres within 24 hours, sending it into cold storage within 48 hours, and this ensures least amount of deterioration,” he explains. With such respect accorded to the sensitivities of tea, Dugar and his team, have managed to package fine teas that are appreciated world over. Sensing a great opportunity in this space, Dugar extended the business idea to include several other varieties of tea and in 2014, Teabox.com came into being. The two year wait was due to Dugar’s search for an able e-commerce partner who could help the company reach its potential consumers on a global scale. “Accel Partners came onboard with a round of seed funding (US $1 million) in 2014 and this led us to the right e-commerce partner,” says Dugar. Today, it ships to over 80 countries worldwide including the U.S., the U.K., Russia and the traditional tea drinking markets such as China. When it first began shipping tea the end-consumer had to wait up to 25 days to taste the product while now, partnering with local logistics providers has cut short the wait to anywhere between six days and eight days. Teabox opened its Bengaluru office the same year and currently, it houses the technology, sales and marketing teams, with an overall strength of 35 people. In March 2015, Teabox received its Series A worth US $6 million in a round led by JAFCO Asia. The other investors were Keystone Group, Dragoneer Investment Group and existing investors Accel Partners. These funds will help Teabox expand its global reach to include markets such as Japan and Korea and create local marketing teams in these regions to build business. A portion of the funds will also go towards setting up cold storage facilities at Siliguri, Coonoor and Guwahati. Speaking of the company’s funding story, Dugar shares, “The global market size for tea exceeds US $60 billion and to tap into this, our scalable business model and my domain knowledge were quite attractive to venture capitalists.” Dugar is also quick to add that his investment partners have invested more than just their money in the venture by providing the company valuable guidance and access to resources that have helped it scale. Bringing in the new I quiz Dugar on the challenges he faced while establishing Teabox and he admits that conquering the old mindset was most trying. “It took me over two years to convince producers of the worldwide potential of the Internet,” he recalls. While that took its time, setting up a global e-commerce venture in Siliguri where the availability of talent is limited, also proved difficult. He attributes the first few hires to luck and as the word and business spread, Dugar managed to ramp his team to include a wide talent pool. “Our research and development head was previously a product manager at Starbucks, Seattle and our shared passion for tea brought her here,” he says. Hiring for the office in Bengaluru was much easier as by then the company had access to its investing partners’ network. Another significant challenge for Dugar and his team to surmount was that their business model didn’t allow for touch, smell or taste of their product. The team won over its consumers with painstaking descriptions of its teas that included details on the body, the aroma, the date the tea leaves were plucked, the specialty of the plantation it was grown in and much more. “This detailed description of our teas was comforting enough for consumers to give us a first shot. Post that, it’s more than half the battle won, given that we have over 70 per cent repeat orders,” chuckles Dugar. Teabox has also created starter kits which allow consumers to sample four different varieties at one go. What truly sets Teabox apart is that it uses technology as an enabler and does so very effectively. It recently launched an algorithm-based personalised tea service where a consumer takes a survey and the computer matches his/her attributes to that of a tea and delivers a match with an accuracy rate of over 35 per cent. By the third order placement that rate zooms up to 90 per cent. “We have a pending patent on this invention and I’m sure it will generate a lot of curiosity amongst consumers,” says a confident Dugar. As he looks to the future, Dugar states that he is toying with the idea of setting up little kiosks offline, just to create a Teabox experience. His choice of locations, however, will be his primary markets; he’s eyeing San Fransisco, New York, London, Tokyo and Singapore. “The pricing on our teas starts at Rs. 7,000 and goes up to Rs. 1.5 lakh and I’m not sure Indians are ready to fork out that kind of money for a cup of tea,” he opines. Dugar does see a difference in the Indian mindset, especially the upwardly mobile with an exposure to refined tastes, and is hopeful that tastes will change sooner than later. Till then, he’s happy growing his volume orders in foreign markets. “Last year, we grew at 10X and this year, we look to outdo that,” he concludes. .

the economic times  |  AUGUST 19, 2015  |  By: Jayadevan P K

TEABOX RAISES $6M TOGROW ITS GLOBAL TEA-COMMERCE BUSINESS

Siliguri-based Teabox is launching an algorithmic prediction engine to help novice tea drinkers figure out whether to go for the Darjeeling black first flush from Jungpana plantations or something else based on their responses to...

Siliguri-based Teabox is launching an algorithmic prediction engine to help novice tea drinkers figure out whether to go for the Darjeeling black first flush from Jungpana plantations or something else based on their responses to a few basic questions. "It's very much like wine (where) (where) when you start you probably know only red and white. There are so many varieties of tea (making it tough for one to choose). We came up with the prediction engine to solve this problem," Kaushal Dugar, founder and CEO of Teabox, told ET. The venture backed startup's new service works like how Facebook would personalise your news feed based on what its algorithms think you like most. Each new user on Teabox is asked five basic questions such as what kind of chocolates and smells they like, based on which the recommendation engine assigns a unique signature to the user. Then it recommends a tea after taking into account nearly 75 different attributes including aroma, astringency and strength to match the user's liking.

After the user consumes the tea, the company requests for feedback based on which the recommendations are fine-tuned. Using previous behaviour and different data points captured from a user to predict what he or she is more likely to buy is not new in ecommerce. For the tea industry, where sprawling estates still run on ledgers designed in the British colonial era, this is right out of the future. "Tastes are unique and with each prediction our engine gets better," said Dugar. "With the first order, we are 75% sure of which teas you are going to like. The next order has85% accuracy. As you taste, read and go through sessions, you become a connoisseur," he said. Teabox, founded in 2012, uses technology to improve the tea industry's supply chain. "The quality of tea deteriorates due to lack of storage and transport infrastructure. We take care of that by being at the source, shipping tea within 48 hours of production and reducing the time for consumption to 5-7 days," said Dugar, who hails from a family of traders who supply equipment to tea estates. One of the company's early backers, Oak Hill Capital founder Robert Bass, was originally a customer who was impressed by the freshness of the tea sold by Teabox. .

the next web  |  MAY 06, 2015  |  By: Paul Sawers

TEABOX: A FRESH TEA SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE, DIRECT FROM THE PLANTATION

While the concept of a direct-to-door online tea delivery service is hardly new, Teabox is building its brand from within one of the world’s biggest tea-drinking and tea-producing countries: India. Production to consumption KAUSHAL: It...

While the concept of a direct-to-door online tea delivery service is hardly new, Teabox is building its brand from within one of the world’s biggest tea-drinking and tea-producing countries: India. Production to consumption KAUSHAL: It all started in 2012, when Kaushal Dugar, a former financial analyst at KPMG, sidled back into an industry that had been in his family since the 1940s. Covering famous tea estates such as Darjeeling and Assam, Dugar and Co., which at present counts 10 people in its main Bangalore office and 11 in a Darjeeling fulfillment center, are striving to build a global brand by delivering leaves direct from plantations to consumers around the world. Yes, it’s all about cutting out the middle-men, which include behemoths such as Tata – the India-based corporation that owns well-known brands such as Tetley. And if that seems like a tall-order, Teabox recently raised a $1 million round from Accel Partners – the VC firm that calls Silicon Valley home and counts Facebook, Spotify and Dropbox among its previous funding roster. Teabox is in good company. Thus far, Teabox’s main markets have been the US, Canada, Australia and Russia, with orders ranging from less than 10 grams to as much as 100kg. And the ordering process is very much focused on the detail. It’s not just ‘black tea’ – you can specify the plantation (e.g. Darjeeling, Assam, Kangra), specialty (e.g. classic, bio-organic, exotic) flush (e.g. first, second, autumn) and more. The exact same level of detail applies to green tea, white tea, oolong, chai and blends.Pricing too is entirely localized, so whether you visit the website from the US, UK, Canada, Russia, or France, you’ll always be greeted with familiar pricing. Though it has been shipping boxes of tea for a while already, if you’re the sort who’s bamboozled by too much choice, this is where its just-launched subscription scheme comes into play. Each month, Teabox will select 10 different types of tea (10 grams each, roughly 50 cups of tea in total), and ships it to you in an elegant box. .

Moreover, it includes tasting notes to guide you through the flavors and story behind each tea, while brewing guides features advice from the experts on how to best brew each tea. The prices vary depending on whether you sign up for an annual, six-month or monthly plan, but it will cost between $30 and $35 (USD) (or your local currency equivalent) every month, which includes shipping. Yes, it’s more expensive than your typical industrial-sized box of Typhoo, but if ‘fresh’ and ‘quality’ is what you’re after, well, it’s this market Teabox is serving. The scale at which Teabox is already operating, with fully localized pricing and shipping to more than 70 countries, certainly bodes well for its future – after water, tea is thought to be the most popular beverage in the world. To date, the company has shipped the equivalent of five million cups of tea to customers in dozens of countries, and has reduced the typical production>consumption period from between 3-6 months to as little as one week, so we’re talking fresh here. “There’s a general tendency in the (tea) industry to use ad-agency manufactured slogans, as facts to sell tea,” explains Dugar. “Anybody can call their tea ‘the best’ or ‘the finest’ or ‘first-class’. But that doesn’t necessarily make it any of those terms, unless it really is fresh – and this is the core component of a great tea.” Fresh tea, on demand, direct from source, within seven days of harvesting – that’s the main selling point here. “When it comes to freshness and quality, the industry does not want to talk about in detail and books often lack real, hard information,” continues Dugar. “At Teabox, we’re changing this trend. We’re making all relevant information available, such as the date of picking of tea, its origin, the season it was picked in, and more to our customers.” Teabox’s ‘Fresh Beginnings’ hand-selected subscription service is in private beta now, though anyone with the link can sign up. The first boxes will start shipping on May 14. Meanwhile, if you know exactly what you’re after and don’t want a regular box arriving at your home each month, it’s business as usual at Teabox. .

the times of india  |  APRIL 25, 2015  |  By: Neha Bhayanal

SPECIALITEA IS THE NEW WINE

Hostess Anamika Singh first offered water and rice cookies to "cleanse the palate" and then handed out little shot glasses filled with 'Firdaus', a green tea blend. "Notice the hint of saffron, marigold and cockscomb...

Hostess Anamika Singh first offered water and rice cookies to "cleanse the palate" and then handed out little shot glasses filled with 'Firdaus', a green tea blend. "Notice the hint of saffron, marigold and cockscomb flowers," she said, showing them how to take a loud, slurping sip to appreciate the Pahalgaminspired flavours. For tea quaffing Indians, a good cup is one filled with the viscous doodh-kam-patti-tez concoction. Or milky, sweet chai, flavoured with crushed ginger and assorted leaves and roots. But tea evangelists are trying to give urban Indians a taste of more elegantly flavoursome gourmet brews. Tea lounges have opened at malls and five-stars, and fine-dining restaurants such as The Table in Mumbai and the Diva chain in Delhi are even offering tea and food pairings. There are tea appreciation workshops where you learn to tell the oolong from the black, and travel trails to Assam and Darjeeling estates. "Tea is not just the new wine. It is the new champagne. It is not about drinking a cup every morning, it is about the experience," says Kaushal Dugar, founder of Teabox, an online retailer of premium leaf teas. Teabox is among the several recent start-ups catering to the growing demand for luxury teas. Launched three years ago, the company has since shipped Rs 2 crore worth of tea to customers in 75 countries. Over the last 12 months, orders have grown 10-fold. Though only a small percentage of Teabox's customers are based in India, Duggar says the market is growing rapidly.

Delhi-based brand Anandini Himalaya Tea sells at least 150 tea cans across NCR every week while Goa-based Tea Trunk claims it is "inundated" with orders for its handcrafted blends such as Marigold Green Tea, which uses real marigold flowers. The teas sold by Tea Trunk, Teabox and Anandini are priced anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 5,000 for a 100-gram pack. The tea we ordinarily buy costs just Rs 200 to Rs 350 per kg. Tea industry experts say that Indians are beginning to appreciate the idea of milk-less brews. When one of the earliest players in the premium-tea zone, Chaado, opened its first outlet in Mumbai in 2008, customers would stare incredulously at the tea jars and quibble about coughing up Rs 40 for a cup. "We survived because of expats and Bengali customers who appreciated fine teas," says Amit Mehta, who heads Chado's India business. Today, Chado has nine outlets across the country and even its most expensive tea — white pearl jasmine tea which sells at Rs 64,000 per kg — finds ample takers. Pune-based software engineer Anirudh Joshi is a dedicated Teabox client and spends at least Rs 1,000 every month, picking a variety of leaves on offer. "The teas taste much better than the kind one gets at grocery stores," he says. When the parcel arrives, Joshi makes it point to sit down and read the evocative text at the back. "Balanced malty nuances, alongside mild mineral hints which round out the flavors perfectly, leaving a pleasantly nutty and medium,length finish on the palate" — going by the prose, the 2015 Frost Blend Nilgiri Black Tea could well be a bottle of rare whisky. In fact, just like whisky traders who boast of their single malt collection, Anamika Singh, too, proudly informs her customers that Anandini teas are 'single-estate' — they are sourced from her estate near Dharamsala. Everyone who comes here gets a bit of tea gyaan — never, for example, to stew tea or how to look for one that matches your needs. When singer Shubha Mudgal walked in recently and asked for a light tea she could sip through the day, Singh gave her a handmade flowery green. Tea Trunk's owner Snigdha Manchanda hosts workshops and tea tastings for hotels and corporates. The session starts with three bowls of tea — Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri. "Nine of ten participants can't tell the difference," says Manchanda, 31, who has trained to be a tea sommelier. .

the business times  |  APRIL 25, 2015  |  By: Prisca Ang

BREWING CHANGE IN TEA BUSINESS

TO tea-lovers, the beverage is just a welcome refreshment, the simple yet delightful product of tea leaves soaked in a hot cuppa. But Siliguri-born Kaushal Dugar has a slightly different story to tell. Growing up...

TO tea-lovers, the beverage is just a welcome refreshment, the simple yet delightful product of tea leaves soaked in a hot cuppa. But Siliguri-born Kaushal Dugar has a slightly different story to tell. Growing up in the town in India's Darjeeling district of West Bengal province, Mr Dugar is no

livemint  |  MARCH 25, 2015  |  By: Shruthika Verma

ONLINE TEA-SELLER TEABOX RAISES $6 MILLION, EYES ASIAN MARKETS

Founded in 2012 by Kaushal Dugar, the company is looking to expand its presence to new markets such as China, Japan and South Korea in three to six months. The company is also looking to...

Founded in 2012 by Kaushal Dugar, the company is looking to expand its presence to new markets such as China, Japan and South Korea in three to six months. The company is also looking to set up an office and an experiential store in the US by the end of this year. “There are 1,000-1,500 specialty retailers in the US who are already buying our tea from different channels. An experiential zone will help us cater to the businesses directly,” said Dugar. Teabox, which currently ships tea to 75 countries from its Indian warehouse, is also looking to set up a fulfilment centre in Russia to serve countries which are part of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The company gets more than 95% of its business from international markets. ”We are going to use this money to expand in newer markets, infrastructure development, talent acquisition and for marketing initiatives,” said Dugar. “JAFCO has a strong presence in markets such as China, Russia and their understanding of these markets will help us expand there,” he added. Teabox, run by Teaxpress Pvt. Ltd, is a subsidiary of Singapore-based AsianTeaxpress Pte. Ltd.Teabox currently ships a variety of premium Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri and Nepal teas across the globe from its warehouse in Siliguri, Darjeeling. “It currently takes us a lot of time to ship out of India. A fulfilment centre in Russia will help us reduce the time of delivery,” added Dugar.

The company will also use the money to build a cold-storage facility to store tea leaves. “Transportation and storage of tea in India is done in a very old fashioned way. The biggest enemy of tea is exposure to oxygen, which makes it lose its aroma. Hence we need cold-storage facilities to maintain high standards of tea,” Dugar explained. Teabox is not looking to break even for the next three to four years. “The investment behind infrastructure is high,” Dugar added. The company has a catalogue of more than 200 different tea plantations in India and Nepal and offers a variety of loose-leaf teas online. Customers can also choose from a variety of subscription plans to receive curated boxes of tea samples. “Teabox’s disruptive business model is highly scalable, achieves better margins and allows complete control of the customer experience. JAFCO’s expertise across different markets will add significant value to Teabox in the coming months,” said Supriya Singh, associate director of JAFCO Asia. “I am a longtime tea drinker and first discovered Teabox as a customer. Given the superior quality of the company’s product and its innovative approach to sourcing, marketing, and distribution, we see great things ahead for Teabox,” said Robert M. Bass, president of Keystone. According to Teabox, the company has grown 10 times over the last 12 months. It does not disclose financials. Teabox has, so far, shipped 20 million cups worth of tea. .

techcrunch  |  MARCH 25, 2015  |  By: Jon Russel

TEABOX RAISES $6M TOGROW ITS GLOBAL TEA-COMMERCE BUSINESS

The company raised a $1 million seed round from Accel last March. JAFCO Asia lead this Series A round, with participation from Accel and new investors Keystone Group and Dragoneer Investment Group. To refresh those...

The company raised a $1 million seed round from Accel last March. JAFCO Asia lead this Series A round, with participation from Accel and new investors Keystone Group and Dragoneer Investment Group. To refresh those who missed the seed round, just like a good cuppa, Teabox is an online store that sells tea to customers in 75 countries. It works directly with over 200 plantations in India and Nepal, with its own storage facilities near to plantations. It handles distribution, supply, storage and logistics itself, that’s an arrangement that drastically speeds up the time taken for tea to reach customers. Traditionally the process takes months given the long chain of players involved in picking, sampling selling, stocking etc. Teabox claims its time between order and delivery is a week or less.

Teabox was founded in 2012 by Kaushal Dugar, whose family has been in the tea industry for generations. Returning home from a stint with KPMG in Singapore, Dugar spent 18 months at a tea export firm to familiarize himself with the logistics behind the drink he loves, before starting the company. It began life in Siliguri in North East India, but today Teabox has an office in Bangalore and a fulfillment center in Russia, which become a key market early on. Dugar told TechCrunch in an interview that his intent is to replicate that model and open centers in China, Japan, and Korea. That, he said, will enable delivery to customers there within three to five days of their order, and provide better, localized customer support. Teabox is also considering an office in the U.S.. The location of that is still up for discussion — Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco are the early frontrunners — but the goal is to build a brand and tech platform to better service the American market. The wheels are already in motion, and an exec from a top coffee brand in the U.S. has been lured to lead Teabox’s efforts Stateside. “We want to leverage the internet to build the world’s first vertically integrated tea e-commerce service,” Dugar said. “[This funding round will] lets us go to the next level; build a disruptive team, target new markets and build a global brand.” It’s an audacious target, to be sure. Teabox didn’t disclose user numbers, but it claimed its orders have grown 10x over the past year with 20 million cups (around 40,000 kg) shipped to date. Last year, that figure was at 5 million cups. Already there are elements required to stand out. Its direct access to plantations — and thus lack of middle men in its processes — gives Teabox impressive margins on the business side of things. Dugar didn’t provide specific financial figures, but did say the margins are in the “higher double digits, more than 50 percent” — that’s high enough to make Teabox the most profitable e-commerce business in India, he claimed. (An impressive claim given the rate in which Flipkart and Snapdeal are burning through cash.) Dugar said the business could be made profitable tomorrow, if needed, but it is taking funding to scale more aggressively and vie for a larger slice of the global tea business, which he roughly estimated to be worth $40-60 billion per year. Interestingly, Robert M. Bass, President of Keystone, first found out about Teabox by becoming a customer, and the startup’s other investors are equally as bullish. “Teabox’s disruptive business model is highly scalable and allows complete control of the customer experience,” said JAFCO’s Supriya Singh. While he didn’t divulge Teabox’s secret sauce, I was curious to know the optimal time for consuming tea. Dugar revealed that all Teabox leaves are kept inside one of its cold storage facilities within 48 hours of being picked from the plantation. That, he said, keeps them as fresh six months down the road as it would be the next day. I was hoping for a more precise answer that will shape my tea drinking habits, but that set-up works out nicely for Teabox customers, who are getting a fresher product for their money. And without being constrained to whatever is stacked on their local supermarket’s shelves. .

forbes  |  SEPTEMBER 22, 2014  |  By: Hunter Atkins

HOW TEABOX IS BRINGING SILICON VALLEY TO THE DARJEELING TEA FIELDS

From then on, Dugar had a knack for what he likes to call “disrupting the supply chain.” He makes himself sound like a natural born rebel of the business world. And perhaps that is befitting...

From then on, Dugar had a knack for what he likes to call “disrupting the supply chain.” He makes himself sound like a natural born rebel of the business world. And perhaps that is befitting in the case of his present venture, Teabox, an online teashop that he expects will revolutionize the centuries-old industry. “Tea production over the last 200 years has remained the same way,” says the 31-year-old Marwari from Siliguri, India, whose family has been in the industry for more than 50 years. “Everything is almost similar to what the British used when they started.” He gripes about antiquated paper logbooks, outdated machinery and the inefficient auction process. Then there are the dusty, austere working conditions. Were you to walk into any tea warehouse, he says, “you wouldn’t want to drink your tea anymore. The quality is not there. The infrastructure is not up to date. They are pretty much kept out in the open without basic hygienic care.” After spending years in Singapore as a financial analyst, Dugar returned home hell-bent on bringing a Silicon Valley attitude to the Darjeeling tea fields. “We are not running this as a tea company but as a tech company.” Tea tastes best when it is freshest. Typically, tea is plucked, sorted, housed, sent to auction, purchased, packaged and shipped to customers. It is a process that Dugar says is slowed down by “five to seven intermediaries before the tea reaches the end consumer.” It also takes between three and six months to reach customers overseas.

“The No. 1 enemy for a premium tea is its exposure to air and oxygen after production,” he explains. “So if you expose the tea open for a long period of time or you don’t bag it properly, within 20 to 30 days a tea will lose 50 to 60 percent of it’s aroma, it’s quality after production.” Teabox sources teas directly from plantations in Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiris. It vacuum packs the leaves within 48 hours of production. It ships directly from the processing warehouses to customers in 75 countries within three to fives days. This apparent efficiency earned Teabox seed capital in January of $1 million from Accel Partners, the investors behind Angry Birds, Dropbox and Spotify. The backing of venture capitalists has helped turn Dugar’s inspiration for an online tea store into perhaps India’s first global ecommerce company. Teabox’s website presents tea like wine (actually showing tea served in wine glasses). When selecting a tea, a customer can see the garden of origin, time of bloom and date of plucking as done by vineyards. There are steeping instructions and tasting notes. Patrons can “subscribe” to any number of the 53 tea profiles. Based on the purchasing history, Teabox uses algorithms to suggest other teas a consumer may like. Every shipment includes a sample of another tea. Dugar does not merely want to offer the best varietals. He hopes to introduce people to new ones and expand interest. “From a tech perspective,” Dugar says of Teabox’s personalized online experience, “we can convert a novice into an expert.” He claims that a suggested tea has “a 90 percent likelihood you will like it based on our data.” Dugar has bigger plans for Teabox. With the industry value estimated to be $40 billion, Dugar aims to nab 5 percent of the bounty. He plans to set up warehousing facilities in Europe to expedite the process even more. He also says Teabox is about to raise another round of funding: about $5-$10 million. This will help the company penetrate markets in Russia, China, Japan and Korea. If this model works for tea, Dugar wants to start selling spices and cereals. “The market is so big and we are not even scratching the surface right now,” he says. Of his new wave of investors, he adds, “They would not put money into the business if they don’t see the long-term profit.” .

the asian entrepreneur  |  MAY 19, 2014  |  By: The Asian Entrepreneur editorial team

TEABOX: A FRESH TEA SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE, DIRECT FROM THE PLANTATION

At KPMG, he worked with Government Agencies, Private corporations across South East Asia and the Middle-East on long term corporate strategy development and corporate finance projects across range of industries such as healthcare, media, real...

At KPMG, he worked with Government Agencies, Private corporations across South East Asia and the Middle-East on long term corporate strategy development and corporate finance projects across range of industries such as healthcare, media, real estate and automotive. Kaushal was also the co-founder of Books to Read – a nonprofit aimed to help primary & secondary school children get access to books from developing nations where he and his team shipped around 100,000 books from Singapore to schools in Tanzania and Zambia. He graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Business Management from the Singapore Management University (SMU). At SMU, he was the founder & president of SMU Ventures – The Entrepreneurship Society that encouraged students to pursue entrepreneurship and has resulted in few businesses with million dollar revenues. What exactly is Teabox? Founded in 2012, Teabox is the only premium tea brand that delivers teas direct from origin to customer. With fulfillment center in the heart of tea producing regions, Teabox ships the world’s freshest teas, chosen by tea experts to customers all over the world within 24-48 hours of production. With a selection of over 150 fresh teas from over 75 different plantations in Darjeeling, Nepal, Assam, Kangra & Nilgiri, Teabox provides the largest selection of single estate and premium fresh teas online. Within 2 years of its existence, Teabox has already delivered over 5 million cups of tea to tea lovers in over 65 countries. For more information, please visit https://www.teabox.com

How did you come up with the idea of Teabox? Teabox was not created as a ah ha moment but as a result of applying strategic principles/theories to the field of tea. While working at a leading tea export firm, I realized that it takes about 3-6 months for a tea to reach the end consumer and there were too many intermediaries in the value chain and as a result the price increases x times and there is also a deterioration in quality due to lack of good quality infrastructure as the freshness goes away with time. That’s where I realized that if I can make teas available to customers immediately after production while preserving the freshness/aroma – it could form the basis for a brand that would be known for its freshness. Could you walk us through the process of starting up Teabox? The process of starting up Teabox was complicated, we had to figure out international logistics, inward procurement, packaging, ability to reach out to customers in international markets. We took them as a challenge and tackled each issue one by one while also assembling a team who can help us put this idea into reality. How has it been like managing the business since? As Ben Horowitz, an international VC and entrepreneur puts it – in business you only experience two emotions – either euphoria or terror. And pretty much, mine has been the same. From very good days to very bad days, it’s been a roller coaster ride and I think that is going to continue for a long time. However it helps that there is now a team which is taking care of things. Did you find anything particularly difficult during the startup? I think the biggest challenge for me was recruiting people. Earlier we operated entirely from Siliguri (a small town in West Bengal province of India) and due to lack of great talent pool, it was very difficult for us to find the right people to grow. And as a result, I hired people all over the world to work for me. We had someone in Phillipines take care of customer service, Tech/IT was outsourced to a team in Western India, Design was outsourced to a firm in US, Graphic designer was based in New Zealand, social media marketing was in Kenya.. However, over a period of time – we have managed to build a strong team that is working hard to implement our vision. How was the initial reaction from the consumers? Almost 99.99% of our customers have loved our teas so much so that they have become our biggest fans. I think one of the reason is that they have been so much used to bad teas in the past and that’s what they have thought are good teas. When they discovered and tasted Teabox teas, only then they realized what kind of bad teas they have been drinking all their life. Most of them have become our regular customers and keep buying from us. What is your strategy against your competition? We do face competition from established brands in our target markets. However, our biggest advantage is that we are at the source, we get access to teas immediately after production and we are able to deliver it to the customers – the freshest teas within 7 days of manufacturing which makes a huge difference in quality and taste. By the time most other brands get teas, it’s been months after production and the teas have lost most if not all of the flavor/aroma. Have you developed any industry insights that you could share? Indian tea industry unfortunately still functions in a very archaic way – not much has changed since the time Britishers used to run this industry. And as a result, when a new way/method tries to challenge the norms of a set industry, naturally there is a lot of resistance. How have you managed to stay relevant in this industry? The only we have managed and would continue to stay relevant in tea is by being focused on providing a superior customer service/experience to our customers. Since we are creating a premium brand, a superb customer service, great product and constant innovation would help us stay relevant. What are your future plans for Teabox? Long term plan is to create our own supply chain competency in Tea. We are doing that by having our own sourcing centers near the tea plantations in different locations in India and by having our distribution centers as close to the customers as possible in different parts of the world. By doing so, we would be able to control the entire supply chain and assure quality and service like no other. If you could start all over again, would you change anything about your approach? I don’t think I would change anything – whatever I would change was the mistakes I have made. Yet, without trying those – I would not even know that they were mistakes. What do you think about startups in Asia? I think startups in Asia are fabulous. We have some of the brightest minds in the world in Asia and naturally with the inflow of capital – many smart entrepreneurs will come out and create fabulous businesses and generate huge value. What are some personal principles or personal values that guide you and your career? Growing up in an environment such as mine – many family values have been ingrained which I carry onto the business. Being frugal is something which I have adopted since I have always learned to do more with less. At times people in business tend to forget that business is nothing but just a group of people coming together to achieve a goal. And the people part is the most important factor in any businesses which should not be neglected. What is your definition of success? Success to me is achieving what I sought out to achieve keeping in mind personal goals and circumstances. For example, running a marathon for many folks might not be something they would term as success but I certainly do that as that was a personal goal for me which I have achieved. Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Being born in a family that has been involved in business for generations, this was quite natural. I don’t think it was a question of why but when. And when happened when I felt ready for it. What do you think are the most important things entrepreneurs should keep in mind? To be focused, to be directed by your internal guidance system rather than do what you think is the right think because everyone is doing that. And most of all – believe in yourself. In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success? Perseverance, Hard work and a 200% commitment to your goal. Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there? Maybe not to entrepreneurs but to people who want to be entrepreneurs and have not yet taken the plunge – I would say “JUST DO IT”, Life is too short to not try. Connect: Website: www.teabox.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/teabox.tea.

vccircle  |  APRIL 26, 2014  |  By: Sainul K Abudheen

TEABOX SEEKS TO DISRUPT 200-YEAR-OLD TEA INDUSTRY, CLAIMS TO HAVE SHIPPED 5M CUPS TO OVER 65 COUNTRIES

However, a few niche e-com firms have made their mark in the domestic as well as overseas markets and drew VC funding. Bangalore- and Singapore-based AsianTeaxpress Pte Ltd is such a venture, which, with its...

However, a few niche e-com firms have made their mark in the domestic as well as overseas markets and drew VC funding. Bangalore- and Singapore-based AsianTeaxpress Pte Ltd is such a venture, which, with its online tea retail brand Teabox, has scripted history overseas, within just two years of inception. “The conventional distribution chain causes large delays between the time of production and the time the teas hit the market, causing the quality of the teas to deteriorate and lose their aroma. Our presence at the source and capability to preserve the freshness of teas serve as our key differentiator,” said Kaushal Dugar, founder and CEO, Teabox. “This also challenges the ways of a 200-year-old industry, which has always relied on a large value chain consisting of multiple middlemen. It has hardly changed since the earliest British and Scottish planters first set up the estates,” Dugar said. Teas are sourced directly from plantations Teabox was originally started in 2012 as DarjeelingTeaXpress.com, which offered premium, fresh Darjeeling teas directly from sources. After gaining significant traction from various countries through word of mouth and organic search, the firm decided to scale the business further and then rebranded to Teabox. The founder claims that Teabox is the first global tea brand from India that delivers the world’s freshest teas sourced directly from the plantations in Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri & Kangra, and ships them to customers globally. By circumventing the conventional value chain and directly reaching out to customers, it has been able to deliver fresh teas in under a week’s time. To date, Teabox has shipped over five million tea cups in over 65 different countries, says Dugar.

The company has a fulfilment centre in Siliguri where the teas undergo a number of rigorous quality checks. The products are then vacuum packaged and stored in humidity-controlled environments. The startup also has on board experts to taste the tea. Markets, logistics and payments Teabox works primarily with DHL & Fedex to deliver the products. It also uses EMS and airmail to ship to Russia and other CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries. However, its key target markets remain to be the US, Australia, Russia, Japan & South Korea. Customers can pay via credit/debit cards and also via Paypal. Its Russian entity also accepts payments via Webmoney. “India is not our primary focus, as more than 98 per cent of our customers are abroad. So, the global market will continue to be our focus, at least for the next few years. That said, we are optimistic about the domestic market as well,” Dugar said. Challenges and competition In Dugar’s view, building the next global tea brand from India online is challenging. “India is world’s second-largest producer and fourth-largest exporter of teas. Yet it lacks a home-grown premium global brand, unlike the well-known French wine or Scotch whisky, mainly due to its continued colonial tradition of reliance on retailers and distributors to market the teas,” Dugar said. Teabox is looking to close this gap by effectively channelling the capital and resources from a booming domestic e-commerce industry in India and by application of new-age technology and innovations in supply chain. Teabox faces competition mainly from traditional brick-and-mortar stores, which have traditionally held the monopoly over Indian loose leaf teas. Teabox says it is working on a number of initiatives to encourage this offline customer base to shift online. He claims that Teabox site offers a large selection of Indian teas from various regions and detailed, descriptive information about tastes, grades, flushes, customer reviews to educate and aid customers in choosing the teas. The company recently raised $1M from Accel Partners and Horizen Ventures to add new features such as subscription services to its portal, and expand the business to other countries. “Our next fulfilment centre is coming up in Guwahati for Assam teas. Our focus is to build the supply chain infrastructure and be present at all the tea growing regions through our own fulfilment centres and warehouses.” With 21 staff on board across multiple locations, the firm is now looking to hire people in the marketing and UI/UX verticals. The company is also looking to raise a fresh round of funding in a year’s time, Dugar said. .

telegraph india  |  APRIL 26, 2014  |  By: Roopak Gosawami

ONLINE TEA-SELLER TEABOX RAISES $6 MILLION, EYES ASIAN MARKETS

Founded in 2012, Teabox delivers tea direct from its place of origin to customers and ships the world’s freshest teas chosen by tea experts all over the world within 24-48 hours of production. It is...

Founded in 2012, Teabox delivers tea direct from its place of origin to customers and ships the world’s freshest teas chosen by tea experts all over the world within 24-48 hours of production. It is delivered within three to five working days to its customers worldwide. “The market for Assam teas is bigger than Darjeeling in terms of volume. A majority of consumers prefer strong teas and Assam, especially second flush, does an excellent job in terms of matching the customers’ preference. Hence going forward, we would be procuring large quantities of teas from Assam and Guwahati would be the largest of our centres by way of business,” Teabox founder and CEO Kaushal Dugar told The Telegraph.

Characteristics like rich malty flavour, fuller body, bright colour, briskness and sweet aroma have made Assam tea a hot favourite among tea enthusiasts all over the world. The company is planning to start the Guwahati centre in the last quarter of this year. At present, it operates from Siliguri. “We are looking to procure from around 30-40 best plantations in Assam. We sell only orthodox tea,” Dugar said. As of now, 30 per cent of teas being sold are from Assam. This will increase and there will be more variety when it launches its Guwahati centre. With a range of over 150 varieties of fresh tea from over 75 different plantations in Darjeeling, Nepal, Assam, Kangra and the Nilgiris, the company claims to provide the largest selection of single estate and premium fresh teas of the country online. “Tea has a huge market globally but most of the consumption/buying happens offline. We are really trying to shift the pattern of buying from offline to online, which is very challenging, as tea is a product that people look/feel/smell and then buy. But wine and coffee have done that successfully, so we believe tea should not be that different,” he said. The company has already delivered over five million cups of tea to connoisseurs in over 65 countries. Seventy per cent of its customers are repeat ones. On why people should buy from Teabox, Dugar said it is because of the extremely high quality of teas, backed by superior customer experience and service. “We buy the best teas and make them better through our extensive in-house quality control systems. Our shipping team ensures that they reach most destinations in three to five working days,” he said. “We believe that a majority of the offline market in tea can be converted into online. The size of the online market is $5 billion to $6 billion whereas that of offline market is $40 billion. There is space for other firms to join in the online tea market sphere,” Dugar said. On the other hand, tea shipped from Inland Container Depot from Amingaon on the outskirts of Guwahati takes about 30 days to reach the UK and about 20 days to get to Dubai. .

Founded in 2012, Teabox delivers tea direct from its place of origin to customers and ships the world’s freshest teas chosen by tea experts all over the world within 24-48 hours of production. It is delivered within three to five working days to its customers worldwide. “The market for Assam teas is bigger than Darjeeling in terms of volume. A majority of consumers prefer strong teas and Assam, especially second flush, does an excellent job in terms of matching the customers’ preference. Hence going forward, we would be procuring large quantities of teas from Assam and Guwahati would be the largest of our centres by way of business,” Teabox founder and CEO Kaushal Dugar told The Telegraph.

Characteristics like rich malty flavour, fuller body, bright colour, briskness and sweet aroma have made Assam tea a hot favourite among tea enthusiasts all over the world. The company is planning to start the Guwahati centre in the last quarter of this year. At present, it operates from Siliguri. “We are looking to procure from around 30-40 best plantations in Assam. We sell only orthodox tea,” Dugar said. As of now, 30 per cent of teas being sold are from Assam. This will increase and there will be more variety when it launches its Guwahati centre. With a range of over 150 varieties of fresh tea from over 75 different plantations in Darjeeling, Nepal, Assam, Kangra and the Nilgiris, the company claims to provide the largest selection of single estate and premium fresh teas of the country online. “Tea has a huge market globally but most of the consumption/buying happens offline. We are really trying to shift the pattern of buying from offline to online, which is very challenging, as tea is a product that people look/feel/smell and then buy. But wine and coffee have done that successfully, so we believe tea should not be that different,” he said. The company has already delivered over five million cups of tea to connoisseurs in over 65 countries. Seventy per cent of its customers are repeat ones. On why people should buy from Teabox, Dugar said it is because of the extremely high quality of teas, backed by superior customer experience and service. “We buy the best teas and make them better through our extensive in-house quality control systems. Our shipping team ensures that they reach most destinations in three to five working days,” he said. “We believe that a majority of the offline market in tea can be converted into online. The size of the online market is $5 billion to $6 billion whereas that of offline market is $40 billion. There is space for other firms to join in the online tea market sphere,” Dugar said. On the other hand, tea shipped from Inland Container Depot from Amingaon on the outskirts of Guwahati takes about 30 days to reach the UK and about 20 days to get to Dubai. .

Teabox Holiday Deals Terms and Conditions

1. All offers are time bound.
2. Only select coupon codes will work during the sale.
3. Free tea samples will not be shipped with Subscriptions and TeaPacs only orders.
4. All the offers are valid until stocks last or till the offers end.
5. Any taxes or liabilities or charges payable to the Government or any other authority or body, if any, shall be borne directly by Customer and/or billed to the account of the Customer.
6. The Terms and Conditions shall be governed by the laws of India. Any disputes arising out of and in connection with this program shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts in Bangalore, India only.
7. Teabox reserves the right to modify or change any of the terms and conditions applicable to this offer at any time with/without prior notice to the Customer.
8. Teabox shall also not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever that may be incurred, or for any personal injury that may be suffered, by a customer, directly or indirectly, by use or non-use of these products/services.
9. Any person purchasing from Teabox shall be deemed to have accepted all of these Terms and Conditions.