PayU hosts events time & time again that give entrepreneurs a platform to talk about their journey. Recently, Shobhit Mohan, VP, Marketing, PayU India, spoke with the man behind a well-known Indian brand that made its way to 100 other countries – Bala Sarda, Founder, Vahdam India.
Vahdam Teas is a native Indian wellness brand that believes in taking the authentic taste of Indian herbs & spices to other parts of the world. They tapped into the well-known fact that India is a rich producer of tea & turmeric. This paved path for their success. Here are a few tips from their conversation that can benefit entrepreneurs through their journey.
How did Vahdam India come into Being?
The founder, Bala said, there were a lot of events that came together to redefine this journey. He always had an entrepreneurial bent since undergraduation. He spent time researching ideas that create an impact in Darjeeling. That’s how Vahdam India came into being in 2015.
Why did Vahdam India get into the Tea Business?
Bala realized quickly that India was making 25% of tea that was produced worldwide. Tea, being the second most consumed beverage, had a market size of around 50 to 80 billion dollars. It is one of the largest employers of organized laborers after railways in India. As most tea brands in India were not Indian, he chose to build a brand from India. He took it to mature markets like the US & retained profits from the country.
Bala understood there were two problems that need to be fixed. One, there was a gap that could be filled in terms of product quality. Second, the supply chain was too fragmented. He focused on building trust around the brand as India was not known for building a high-quality product in premium categories. Their ticket to win was high trust with origin products and the internet as their distribution channel.
What were the Challenges that Came in Vahdam India’s Journey?
One of the major challenges that came their way was scaling their business. They were confident to take it to next level in two years. This came with a new set of rejections. The next major challenge for them was to reach the right investors. They were struggling on multiple fronts for funding and in the end, their persistence paid off.
What was it that kept Vahdam India going?
Great customer feedback, positive reviews, and word of mouth kept them motivated. They spent a good time understanding the science behind the supply chain. It reflects eventually.
How Funding helped Vahdam India?
Funding played a critical role in clearing the air around the time span they wanted to take to build the brand. They raised their first round of funding which was an inflection point for them. The rounds got easier. This helped them get the right people on board, who deeply believed in their story. Bala added, “When an entrepreneur stops thinking about money, it helps their mind space get more allocated on the product”.
How does Vahdam India Support Environment and Society?
They understood that the global consumer cares about environmental issues and appreciates brands that can offer sustainable packaging and solution. Vahdam India redefined their motto to, “Do well by Doing Well”. They took the initiative to be a climate & plastic neutral brand.
They launched a Teach Me initiative three years back, a funding scholarship for children in tea estates. 1% of their revenue is directed to children’s education of tea growers. There was an issue with a high-quality education. They partnered with Byjus a year back. It helped them get access to 100,000 academic programs. These programs were distributed to children in tea estates.
What Would be Your Advice to Every Budding Entrepreneur?
There’s no better time to go global than today. These are highly mature consumer markets when it comes to understanding consumers, packaging, and sustainability. Knowing the market and a clear understanding of your brand’s positioning is always helpful.
These are a few suggestions by Bala for paving one’s success path.
- Do not seek external validation. Focus on structuring your thoughts
- Maintain focus on the end goal and build a strong foundation for your business
- Turn up no matter what and that’s where half of your work is done. The rest can be figured out.
Check out this video to know more about their conversation.
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