‘Better three days without food, than one without tea.’ This is a famous Chinese proverb. After its discovery, till now tea has been the primary beverage and very close to the heart of many Indian and across the world. Delhi boy Bala Sarda who is just 25 years old started this business in 2015, and he is successfully running a 100% online brand called ‘Vahdam Teas.’
Bala is the fourth-generation entrepreneur in his family. They have been exporting teas across various showrooms of Darjeeling for decades. After completing the Graduation at College of Business Studies, he went to Darjeeling for two months. According to him, he researched on the tea industry there, and it was the time when he wanted to join his 45-year-old family business on tea. And if you can see the name ‘Vahdam’ is the reverse name of Bala’s father whose name is Madhav. Bala takes him as his greatest inspiration.
‘Vahdam teas’ is now working with over 175 tea plantations. Along with that, they are also associated with small growers across all seven tea production in India – the Nilgiris, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Nepal, Sikkim, and of course Darjeeling. And in just two years they have shipped over 20 million cups of tea across 76 countries, which is entirely commendable.
Freshness is their biggest key to success
According to Bala some of the tea companies offer year old tea with latest date packing. That is why it loses its freshness. But ‘Vedam teas’ always provides freshness. He added, “The taste you get at the tea estate and what you get a year after the harvest is very different.” The company’s warehouse is in Delhi, so the tea gathered from these regions is transferred to the warehouse, and then it is flavored and blended. Immediately after that they vacuum package these teas and put them online. Average Delivery time to the US is just 4 working days since dispatch. On the other hand, for North America, Europe, and South Asia it takes maximum 6 days. Vedam is also the partner of FedEx, DHL, etc.
If ‘Vedam teas’ can capture just one percent more in next eight years, they will be one of the biggest companies according to Bala as the full tea market worth $60 billion. And the most amazing thing is India just gives them 5% revenue, but still, their primary focus is India. Vedam has seen growth near about 5x in the last six months. Bala said, “This is a high margin business. We get more than 50 percent margin.” With zero cash burn, they broke even within two months, and are profitable now. They get less than .04 percent return rate.
Challenges faced by this big brand
Building an overseas network is not an easy job. For an example shipping of food items is governed by strict laws. Bala added, “As an e-commerce company, we don’t have an importer. We are a non-resident importer company in all these countries”.
Trust building is also a major challenge. Apart from that, as this is a seasonal crop, so certain risks in the business also exist.
But their plan is big. Bala wants to establish Vahdam Teas as ‘Make in India’ brand in the world market.