Rage Coffee’s Bharat Sethi on his learnings of building an omnichannel D2C FMCG brand

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, serial entrepreneur Bharat Sethi, Founder & CEO, Rage Coffee, speaks about his entrepreneurial journey, the mistakes he made as a founder, and his future plans.
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The Indian market has witnessed several startups bringing in innovative products in the D2C and FMCG segment. 

As per industry estimates, the D2C segment will grow 10-15 times more in 2022 followed by a 9-10% growth in 2023, and a 10-11% growth in 2024. As far as investment flow is concerned, half a billion can be raised in the next 12-18 months by the FMCG sector in India. 

Rage Coffee is one such brand that is making its mark in the D2C space. Founded in 2018 by Bharat Sethi, Rage Coffee offers a variety of vegan-friendly, vitamin-infused instant coffee flavours. The Delhi-based D2C brand is currently present in 2,500+ retail outlets pan-India and plans to expand its offline presence 5X within a year by strengthening its distribution channels.  

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, serial entrepreneur and Rage Coffee founder Bharat Sethi talks about his entrepreneurial journey, the mistakes he made as a founder, how Rage Coffee stands out as a brand, and his future plans. 

Learning from mistakes 

Bharat started his entrepreneurial journey way back in 2011-2012 when he built PosterGully, a D2C brand, which was acquired later.

After exiting from PosterGully, he immediately started working on his next venture, which he feels was one of the biggest mistakes he made.

Bharat recalls, “I did not take a break at all, because PosterGully was a great ride. I immediately started building this marketplace for architects, designers, and builders, with basically all the stakeholders of the home improvement space, or home renovation space together on one platform. But I realised later on that not taking a day off for years is not a good thing to do.” 

“I think I made a lot of mistakes. When I started, one was not doing enough research before starting a business, not knowing enough about the customer, not knowing our right to win, basically for that product and that category. So those two years mostly were spent in making mistakes and learning. So, a lot of pivots.”

Bharat says that they experimented with a lot of things in those 18 months, but his passion was not there and his heart was not in that category.

“The revenue was largely B2B driven, so I realised it’s not something that will take me where I want to be. I am a consumer guy. I understand consumer psychology and brand building. In 2017-18, I had gained a lot of exposure but I had made many mistakes and there were many learnings. I realised that setting a revenue target, for instance, Rs 500 crore in five years, is important, but what will take me to this number is also an important aspect. And this is how I worked, and the process was to work backwards,” he adds.

Building a D2C FMCG brand

In 2017, Bharat got married, and that changed a lot of things, he says.

Bharat says,“When you have a family to feed, and you have the pressures of a family, your risk-taking appetite goes down. But I also know that this is all the only thing I know. I only know how to build, but creation will need time, will need failures and will need money and will need that effort. So I told myself and my family that if they give me three years, I would build something of substantial scale that I am happy and everybody’s happy around me,”

In 2018, Bharat started researching to launch a data-driven company. “Unlike my previous venture that was only governed by passion, I decided to take a data-driven approach this time,” he says.

Bharat started collecting and collating data by speaking to several distributors, super stockers, and traders, among others in the market.

By the end of 2018, he concluded that he needed to build a brand, which has taste, quality, and gives the much-needed caffeine kick that today’s consumers look for to make their days or mornings fresher. Thus Rage Coffee was launched.

The company is now on track to achieve Rs 100 crore sales this year and claims to have grown 500% since inception. 

To know more, listen to the podcast here

Notes:

02:02 – Intro

02:47 – Family background and what led him to entrepreneurship?

06:35 – Conceptualising PosterGully in 2012

11:09 – Exit from PosterGully

11:50 – Zoho Sponsored – Prashant Ganti on where do founders struggle with Payroll and how can they fix it?

12:59 – Mistakes and learnings from iDecorama

18:45 – Ideating for Rage Coffee

25:55 – Milestones & Growth over the years 

Edited by Megha Reddy

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