TheNFAPost Podcast
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Chennai, NFAPost: It’s a difficult time for all startups, but a few of them are managing to raise funds. Chai Waale, one of the city’s home grown and fastest growing beverage brands, has bagged funding of Rs 1.75 crore.

Founded in 2018 by Vidur Maheswari, Chai Waale is on a mission to tap the unexplored organised tea market. Chai Waale’s meteoric rise in 24 months with 14 outlets and 5 more on the way has created a hot stir in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) segment.

The hot beverage market has been undergoing a facelift in the past couple of years. The market was polarised with either the roadside tea stalls having the USP of affordability or cafes providing an ambience. A third angle was created by the advent of quick service restaurants (QSRs) that capture their slice of the beverage pie with competitive pricing, offering freshly prepared beverages and finger foods.

QSRs came with the added advantage of having a professionally staffed kitchen, which became a naturally attractive business model.

The store experience coupled with the rapidly increasing online demand of chai time delicacies has given the QSR segment two opportunities to cash on streamlining both these process, the brand Chai Waale grew exponentially by way of competitive pricing, focusing on customer delight and opening outlets at strategic locations across the city.

“I took inspiration from the saying, ‘Tea is a beverage while Chai an emotion’ and founded Chai Waale. Each outlet clocks an average sale of 1,300-1,500 cups per day along with quick bites. All our units have turned profitable at the store level. We have been able to grow at this pace by the support of the core team that has demonstrated the right balance of experience and zeal,” Chai Waale Founder Vidur Maheshwari said.

The funds raised will aid in a measured geographical expansion as well as streamline the supply chain systems, he added.

He established Chai Waale in June 2018, driven by his passion to build scalable food and beverages business. Hailing from a business family based in Chennai, Vidur has merged the perfect blend of proven traditional business principles and ethics along with the modern business techniques that forms the backbone of brick and mortar businesses.

“We place high importance in honouring our commitments in a timely manner to ensure smooth functioning and maintain harmony with our vendors. Their role is vital in our endeavour to achieve economies of scale and to get a price and purchase preference,” the founder added.

For Chai Waale, the ratio of offline to online sales has been pegged at 60:40. The company posted profits in its first year of operations. Speaking about the after-effects of Coronavirus, Vidur said, “We are taking all the necessary steps at every stage and continuously adapting to Covid-19. Since tea is a basic necessity and a perennially preferred beverage, we expect our business to continue at a steady pace during the unlock phases. We are highly thrilled at the exponential growth that awaits businesses like ours, which follows hygiene practices from the word go and now further comply with all the safety norms laid out by the authorities.”

The 26-year-old founder added, “People are bound to go for hygienic options that serve authentic tea at prices they have always been comfortable with. Chai Waale aims to have 40-45 fully operational outlets by March 2022. “The larger picture in mind, of course is to go pan India followed by having a global footprint.”

The current set of angel investors includes Tharun Dhariwal, ED of Dhariwal Group; Sunil Kumar Singhvi, Managing Partner of South Handlooms; Chennai-based HNIs, Arun & Vishal Ostwal, hailing the top management of the DK Group of Companies; Gunavanth Vaid of 4G Capital Ventures, who is a practising Chartered Accountant with over 25 years of experience, and has raised funds in excess of Rs 700 crore for various companies and Bharat Kumar Sohanraj from the family of heritage jewellers, Mahalaxmi Jewellers.

“The Covid-19 pandemic will be a good judge of the businesses. The ones that have the conviction to overcome this tough period will gain the trust of investors,” Vidur said.

Chai Waale is working towards expanding its product portfolio and store footprint, and is open to talks with investors to secure the next round of funding.

Chai Waale has expanded to 14 outlets, including 3 cloud kitchens in less than two years since its inception. In a short span of 24 months, Chai Waale has become a tea connoisseur’s favourite destination by carefully sourcing the best tea leaves and pricing competitively.

In a tea dominated country, the QSR firm offers a range of specialty teas including milk, black, herbal and iced tea variants along with a variety of savouries including sandwiches, noodles, poha and khakhras. Its flagship variant Chairman’s Special is an interesting concoction of lemon, ginger, honey and chaat masala, which lends it a strong flavour and reminds one of a tangy candy.

Since inception, Chai Waale has established a strong footing in the mid-range beverage providers segment across Chennai, with strategic locations and a customer-oriented service. Chai Waale is also aiming to triple its operations.

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