What is it about a steaming cup of freshly brewed tea, that instantly elevates your mood and almost makes you feel powerful enough to conquer the world? Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration, but bhavnao ko samjho yaar.
It's almost as if there isn't a thing in the world that a cup of tea can't solve. Well, mostly.
A good cuppa made to your personal liking is powerful enough to evoke nostalgia stronger than any joint, on a given day. It holds the power to take you back to the chai ki tapri in some old gully back from the day, where the chai transported you to another world.
Drinking tea is more of a daily ritual in our country, and it is as much about the taste, as it is about the experiences it lends to the consumer. So, when Chaayos' co-founder Nitin Saluja was looking for a similar chai-experience one fine night in the US, and was disappointed to not find any, a possibility stirred in his heart.
Two years later in 2010, after having quit his fine job in the US, Nitin came back to India and got in touch with Raghav Verma, a friend and former colleague from the company Opera. The IITians hit it off instantly, and in the following interactions, Nitin shared his dream of starting a tea joint for chai lovers in India, much like Starbucks for coffee maniacs, where people can enjoy a good brew even outside their homes.
Having dabbled with startup ventures previously, and being a tea lover himself, Raghav came onboard for the project almost immediately. For the next two years, Nitin and Raghav launched a full-fledged market research, and the results only brought them good news.
India is a country of tea drinkers, where 30 cups of tea are sold for every cup of coffee, and this revelation promised a lot of potential for a lucrative business. Then came the first Chaayos outlet in Cyber City, Gurgaon on November 2012, which was built with the aim to serve a fresh, custom-made cup of chai to its consumers.
They have taken customisation to a whole new level by offering 12,000 different ways of how one can enjoy their cup of tea, along with a number of delectable tea accompaniments they introduced over time, which are a major hit with their customers.
Cut to 2018, the duo has managed to launch 52 chai cafes across Gurgaon, Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Thane.
What makes Nitin and Raghav's concept click with the consumers, is their acknowledgement of the fact that “there is no one right chai” for India, and that's how the 'Meri Wali Chai' made its first appearance on the Chaayos menu. Now we know what went into coining that name.
Since then, they have not looked back, and the brand has only taken more and more steps forward. However, this success wouldn't have been theirs to celebrate, had they paid heed to the naysayers, who constantly told them how bad an idea this was.
They were explicitly told that they would never be “as cool as coffee” but even that changed when they had the same customers come back thrice a day for a sip of their tea blends.
This went on to become their USP- a unique experience around tea. They have had 300% year-on-year growth, with 42% month-on-month customer repeat rates, which has constantly added to their nationwide popularity.
Yet, the co-founders haven't forgotten their early days, and the personal challenges they have had to overcome to reach to this point. Their families were shocked and more than a little apprehensive about the big move their IIT graduate sons were making, by leaving their fancy jobs to sell chai. But they pursued their dreams, and as we all know now, the venture has been more than successful.
For all of you, who want to give your own dream a chance, this is what Nitin has to say. “Have a lot of perseverance and be at it” no matter what life throws your way. As for Raghav, he believes that “quality associations are key” and that's what makes an organisation magically good.
They have a great story to share, so check out what they've got to say here: