Time to wakeup- with chaayos!


Who could have thought something that we start our day with, something as common as chai, could be someone’s startup business. Just like every morning, the first thought we have is our cup of tea, same was the case with Nitin Saluja. His mother taught him how to make tea and ever since, tea was always on his mind. Nitin Saluja is the founder of chaayos, a Delhi NCR  based franchise of Indian kind of tea. As the tagline of chaayos says ‘Experimenting with chai’, and it shows in their menu. Different kind of tea like rose chai, pahadi chai, kulhad chai will never fail you to excite. They are differentiated by the customization that they provide. Their chais are made fresh, when a customer places an order, with an option of choosing from up to 12 add-ons and variations of milk and sugar levels, resulting in a total of 12,000 ways to make your chai. It is this customization that justifies to the tagline “experiments with chai”.

Being an IITian, he would have never been sure about it, but chai was somewhere on his mind. Chai was always a crucial part of Nitin’s life but he had never thought of opening a chai outlet, especially not after getting through IIT-Bombay! One just has to search and grab the opportunities. Somehow Nitin was always sure about inculcating his own ideas and starting up something of his own. After completing his studies from IIT-Bombay in 2006, he started a robotics company, Think Labs, with a few of his friends. Incubated at SINE-IIT Bombay, the company has morphed into a dedicated provider of hands-on science and technology education in India and is currently valued at over $10 million. Moving on from the operations at Think Labs, Nitin moved to Opera Solutions for a five-year stint before the entrepreneurial bug bit again. According to Nitin, the urge to have his kind of chai, turned him towards his seemingly crazy idea of opening a chai outlet.The idea was to have something like a Starbucks for India and that, of course, has to deal with ‘chai’.


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The actual entire working was started while he was still in thoughts and he met Raghav Verma. Raghav Verma is an IIT-Delhi graduate of the batch 2010. He was introduced to Nitin by a common friend and the two hit it off straight away. They both together opened up their first outlet and titled their branch with a creative name, Chaayos. Nitin took care of the product development, settling the supply chain, setting up processes while Raghav took care of marketing and business development.

It could have been easily ended up being a local chai hotel, but the idea landed up really high. Launched in November 2012, Chaayos currently has eight outlets in NCR and is now also running in Mumbai and Bangalore. Over the last few years, they have opened seven more outlets with a core team of eight people and a staff of 50 as the ground staff.

There was a statement made by Nitin that clearly shows his dedication towards offering the best to his customers. He said “The challenge which most people face is to maintain quality while scaling up. This is one area which we think we’ve got covered and gives us an edge. Each of our cups can give that ‘meri wali chai’ feeling.” Their highest grossing outlet turned in an annual revenue of INR 1 crore. The target market for Chaayos is the upcoming middle class that has money but is equally conscious of the value they get. They try to keep their food products at reasonable rates.

Why chaayos or simple ideas like this takes a quick fly is because chai is very common part of life in many areas of the world. Chai is such a product that doesn’t really need any marketing. It is not just restricted to India, chai is popular across the borders. Keeping that in mind, Chaayos can target the other parts of Asia and the Middle East. It won’t be a tough thing for them because if one outlet is doing INR 1 crore annually, it is pretty easy to raise up to INR 100 crores in total in the next 2 -3 years.

They have clearly set up an example that your good ideas and hard work will definitely pay you back. Their outlet wasn’t just restricted till opening a shop, they took it to a level above with their strategies. Their app is coming out soon which will be opening a B2C subscription channel as well.Apart from outlets, they already have tie-ups with corporate for deliveries. Their app is coming out soon which will be opening a B2C subscription channel as well.

When you step in any of their outlets in Mumbai, you get the feel of any other big brands of eateries. But chaayos is not alone in the market. Chai garam is perhaps a good player. There are other chains like Chai Thela and Chaipatty etc. There are many others who are trying their luck with chai. These stories clearly tell us that the small startup ideas can eventually end up becoming some big brands.


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