[Startup Bharat] This 22-year-old tea seller is on track to generate Rs 2 crore in revenue

A self-proclaimed tea-aficionado, Vaibhav Jajoo started Brewed Leaf in 2020, with an investment of Rs 50-60 lakh and 15-20 vendors. Now, the firm is on track to generate Rs 2 crore in revenue in FY2021-22.
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When we think of GenZ in urban areas, we picture youngsters hooked to social media, aspiring to become the next influencer. 

But 22-year-old Vaibhav Jajoo had different dreams. After graduating from Bengaluru-based Presidency College of Hotel Management, Vaibhav interned at Royal Orchid Hotel. 

“Here, I did everything. From washing dishes to cleaning rooms. The service industry is extremely dynamic. But I really wanted something more in my life,” Vaibhav, Co-Founder of Brewed Leaf, tells YourStory in an interaction. 

This quest for something more led him back to his love for tea and he decided to start a firm in this space. 

Credit: YourStory Design

A self-proclaimed tea guzzler, Vaibhav started working on his idea for about a year before starting his company, Brewed Leaf, in August 2020. 

“The process took us time because most tea sellers either have their own estates or have been in this business for generations together. This made procuring the raw materials very difficult,” says Vaibhav, who bootstrapped the firm with Rs 50-60 lakhs, a sum that he raised from family members. 

Among the 100 or so tea estate owners that Vaibhav interacted with, about 15-20 agreed to start working with his company. 

 “Deciding on the name itself took us 2-3 months and then there was packaging and process to be set in place,” he adds. 

Run under Brewed Ventures Pvt. Lt.d, Brewed Leaf generated about Rs 15 lakh in profits in their first year of business, which was about eight months of the last financial year. As of now, the brand is on track to generate Rs 2 crore in revenue for FY2021-22. 

Currently, the Siliguri-based firm works with over 250 tea vendors across India, including Darjeeling and Assam. Brewed Leaf is also in the process of adding more than 100 vendors in the financial year 2022-23. “We want to get teas from all parts of India,” says Vaibhav. 

The two-year-old firm sells its products through its own website as well as ecommerce marketplaces including Amazon and Flipkart. Brewed Leaf also claims to be retailing their products across over 1,000 stores in most cities and towns across West Bengal, Sikkim, Bihar and Jharkhand, Orissa and North Eastern regions, except Kolkata.

Brewed Leaf competes with Goa-based Tea Trunk, which is among a slew of direct-to-consumer tea players in the market at the moment.

Brewed Leaf’s products range between Rs 150 and Rs 1,500 for 100 grams of tea. Vaibhav claims the brand has a customer repeat rate of over 80 percent

Going forward, Vaibhav, with his team of 21 members, is working on new products and expanding in existing categories. These include creating Olive Tea– a tea made from Olive leaves– and instant teas, among others. 

“When we initially started selling online, one of our customers was an importer from the US. They liked our product so much that they gave us more orders. This would also be a focus for us going forward,” says Vaibhav. 

Brewed Leaf, which claims to have seen its growth majorly through word-of-mouth, is now going to invest Rs 50-55 lakh in the new financial year (FY2022-23) on marketing. A majority of the funds will go towards social media marketing. 

India is the fourth largest tea exporter in the world, exporting $692.07 million worth of tea in 2020, according to Statista. And, revenue in the tea segment is $15.9 million in 2022, with the market expected to grow by 2.07 percent annually.

Seeing this growth and opportunity, a slew of small tea players have popped up in the segment – including Fireside Ventures-backed Vahdam Tea, Tea Trunk, which is based in Goa;  Te-a-me, and Teabox India. Legacy players in the space include Hindustan Unilever’s Lipton and Brooke Bond, and Tata Tea. 

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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