These two corporate professionals with two and half decades of experience in the corporate world with the best of domestic and global brands have had enough of the rate race. Samarjit Banerjee and Sanjeev Bhatia, associated with brands like LG, Eurostar, Microsoft, and others among them chucked up their Rs 1 crore per annum packages and entered the start-up space, in the start-up capital of India – Bengaluru.
Well, what is so special about it one may ask – almost everyone starting up a start-up nearly wants to do it in Namma Bengaluru. But what is special about these two fifty-year-old gentlemen is that they dumped their respective high-earning corporate careers to make and sell Chai, yes you heard right, tea. And the brand the duo came up with, after intense research for six months, was The Kulhad Party – Friendship Unlimited.
Now just over a month old, the first outlet, neat and smartly designed in the company’s corporate colours – Orange, Brown and White – located in Electronic City that hosts the best of the IT domestic and global brands has already broken “operationally even.”
What catches the eye of any visitor or passers is the Thela (cart) with a pile of Kulhads (earthen cups) inviting the Chai lovers, and most from northern parts of India immediately get connected to these tea holders they are used to and remind them of their home. I got drawn to the tea point – with an interesting menu of snacks and parathas – just because of the Kulhads that reminded me of the train journeys of yore and chai drinking sessions in Noida and elsewhere during reporting assignments across north India.
Banerjee told Tricity Scoop that the Kulhads come all the way from Khurja in Uttar Pradesh, known for its earthen pottery and porcelain crockeries and tea is sourced from his contact in Assam. “I did not come across kulhads anywhere in south India,” Banerjee said.
Why Chai, in the midst of a successful corporate career?
“I see a huge potential in the market for tea in India, which consumes 1.1 billion kgs of tea per annum. It takes just 8 grams of tea powder to make a cuppa. So, you can imagine the size of the market. Along with this, there is a huge gap when it comes to nice quality, good-tasting chai. So, we are here to fill the gap,” Banerjee said in between serving the steady stream of customers.
Yes, both Banerjee and Bhatia think nothing of serving the customers themselves, handling the cash register, punching in orders, and engaging the customers in lively conversations. “It is all about communications,” Banerjee said as he launched into outlining the company’s future – a string of Kulhad party outlets across the country serving the best chai. For starters, the expansion will be taking place in Bengaluru where he and his partner have identified 19 spots in the city. The second outlet could be in operation as soon as within the next two months, he said.
He knows what he is speaking about – how to scale up operations. And launching a start-up is nothing new for him having launched and scaled up a start-up in the fintech and e-commerce space. “I had brought it to a level, after which I thought it was time to move on,” he said and added “Chai – both inspired and challenged me with its potential.”
The brand name, the logo, designing of the outlet all is my own brainchild, he said. When working in a bootstrapped start-up, you end up doing everything and I am no exception. Banerjee said, anyone wanting to strike out as an entrepreneur must have an idea, strategy, and passion for it and the ability to stay firm on the course, whatever the circumstances.
“If one is the best critic of one’s own work, there is nothing better than it. Why do you need an outsider to criticize and tell you what’s wrong,” Banerjee said by way of advice to wanna-be entrepreneurs.
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