After the ecommerce growth, it’s the IoT and AI which have rocked the startup surroundings in India. However, not many entrepreneurs have notion of blending the two in a cup of tea or coffee!
Amuleek Singh Bijral, Founder and CEO of Chai Point which runs retail stores and a delivery chain community underneath Mountain Trail Foods Pvt Ltd, decided to make technologies like IoT and AI an inherent part of his startup manner again in 2011-2012.
“I say, let the arena go to hell, however I must always have my tea.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
India is the seventh biggest espresso and the second largest tea producer in the international. Interestingly, 83% of Indians eat tea as opposed to coffee. For the remaining 17% Indians, there are a number of coffee stores and restaurant chains including Cafe Coffee Day, Barista, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Cafe Mocha and Georgia. However, there was hardly any tea-specific restaurant and retail chain for the relaxation of the 83% consumers until 2012.
By the time 2012 came, besides Chai Point which was based in 2010 as a small retail pilot project in Bengaluru, Cafe Coffee Day had effectively hit the IPO and lots of marketers started giving a critical idea to developing a ‘Cafe Coffee Day’ like retail keep for the Indian tea segment too.
In 2012, Kaushal Dugar commenced Teabox in Darjeeling; Raghav Verma and Nitin Saluja installation Chaayos in Gurugram, Parvez Gupta in Siliguri launched Udyan tea. While Teabox is sponsored by using RNT Associates, Chaayos has correctly raised funding from Tiger Global.
In the following years, got here Tpot Cafe, Tea Trails and Chai Thela, and extra. However, Chai Point with its particular era blend remained a outstanding participant in the market.
A Harvard alumnus, a former u . S . Manager in the records and protection enterprise RSA and a former Microsoft govt, Amuleek realised manner returned in 2010 that client manufacturers might be highly vital within the Indian marketplace inside the close to destiny.
The perception of the way era can help shape the brand excited us
After going through all of the big category solutions, it become the unavailability of a desi, excessive tech tea retail chain in India that caught in Amuleek’s thoughts for its further perusal. He adds, “Chai is consumed in India almost 15 instances greater than espresso. Now, it’s nearly a $30 Bn marketplace, which is poised to hit the $60 Bn mark with the aid of 2020.”
It turned into a treasure trove of delights for Amuleek to explore the market possibilities over tea. Eventually, he realised that the tea marketplace is largely unaddressed and that there were the equal vintage brands to be had throughout the market at that factor in time.
He says, “Nobody became interested by the standardisation of tea, not like espresso. By the time we devour tea, the freshness has already long past as maximum of the tea packets that clients buy are commonly around nine-month-antique.”
On the contrary, in case of espresso, there are trendy infographics addressing the mixture of milk and coffee that bureaucracy latte, cappuccino, etc. On this apparent however as a substitute bias difference, Amuleek says, “In case of tea, there is no standardisation to be had. Everyone makes tea, as according to his or her very own taste and notion. Also, no tea manufacturers were stricken to teach the purchaser at the remaining mile.”
And this is where Amuleek noticed a massive possibility. For him, the logical step was to start with retail shops, which he began with supplying sparkling and right packaging. Fast ahead to 2018, the startup has ninety one stores, to be able to hit a century within the following couple of months.
With 90+ stores, BoxC and packaged tea blends, Chai Point is currently the most important warm delivery beverage chain within the u . S .. Another tea cafe retail, Chaayos currently has 50+ stores.
Luckily, for Amuleek, funding wasn’t an issue. “By the time we released, shops had been having large revival. While Dominos had already long past for IPO, CCD became additionally about to head for an IPO. This boosted our self assurance in addition to that of the investors within the business. Then, as we have been demonstrating the technology in the back of the complete chain, Series A came about.”
Having closed its Series B investment in 2015 and a total fundraise of $14 Mn, Amuleek expects to shut Series C investment this yr.
From Tea Stores To Founding A Tea Ecosystem
tea-chai point-chai-omni channel
“As we started with the stores, we quickly realised how speedy customers’ lifestyle changed into changing. We needed to evolve further,” quips Amuleek convincingly.
Chai Point did a survey amongst 2,000 customers, and interestingly, it revealed that over fifty five% of the customers consumed tea in workplaces, whilst kind of seventy two% ate up tea outdoor the home. Collectively, over 30% of the purchasers had tea 4 times an afternoon.
“We realised that we had to cater to a larger phase. And, it isn't pretty much promoting tea blends and dispensers, however providing an cease-to-cease solution,” says Amuleek.
It is not just about promoting tea blends and dispensers, however imparting an give up-to-quit solution.
Looking on the extensive sort of customers and their preferences, Chai Point has step by step brought more than one channels to meet patron requirements due to the fact then.
Stores: to cater to orders booked on Zomato, Swiggy and other meals delivery platform as well as independent demands.
Chai On Call (CoC): Customers can buy hot tea sachets at once from Chai Point website or app.
BoxC: A tea and espresso dispensing machine incorporated with IoT and AI to serve customers of their offices.
CPG: Freshly packaged tea sachets for absolutely everyone.
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BoxC And SHARK: Blending IoT And AI In Chai
While tea retail shops were already gaining some traction and there are a number of tea-mixing machines to be had within the market, what made Chai Point team to come up its personal mixing device?
Sandesh C, COO, Chai Point explains, “Most of the available tea or coffee meting out machines discovered in workplaces are not IoT enabled. The machines don’t without a doubt make the beverage, but honestly blend water and milk. While it’s the person that uses tea luggage, they turn out to be now and again the usage of 2-three baggage for a unmarried cup. This now not simplest downplays the performance but additionally causes acidity.”
BoxC is an IoT-enabled computerized tea and espresso dispenser for producing tea via tea leaves and now not with tea baggage and the tea tastes just like the tea prepared at home. It has two versions: one this is hardware automatic and the alternative that's software automated.
BoxC: The Hardware
Chai Point has designed and developed tea dishing out machines: V1 and V2. The organization has partnered with a 3rd organisation to manufacture those machines as in line with the necessities.
The dispensing device is able to making masala tea, lemon, ginger and cardamom tea using tea leaves.
V1 machines have higher throughput. To hold the shape factor intact, instead of getting separate water and milk tanks inside the gadget, the duo is hooked up via inlet pipes. Sugar is mixed out of doors, depending on the choice. The gadget uses fresh milk.
Unlike V1, V2 turned into evolved last yr by means of Chai Point and has were given a large touchscreen powered with Android platform. This lets in customisation and freedom to make tea as in keeping with the consumer’s choice.
V2 machines additionally have facilities to brew clear out coffee. The system has been designed retaining the scant areas of workplace pantries in thoughts. The gadget has a smaller form issue that meets a number of necessities for tea, espresso and other warm milk and water-based drinks.
BoxC: The Software
chai factor-tea blender-v2
BoxC system’s Internet connectivity, that's confident thru a sim slot provided within the system.
The touchscreen dashboard provides a number of information such as tea or coffee health, time to refill the inlets so that there may be no want to open the field to peer how much tea or espresso is left.
It provides all of the vital records inclusive of how many cups were ate up because the closing reset and it even lets in users to regulate the tea and milk volume and density consistent with cup (even cup volume may be customized) with an option to customise brewing temperature as well as time.
The machine sends an replace to the server every 5 minutes.
But although for some motive, it's far not able to send the statistics to the server, it has were given sufficient storage to keep the complete record and ship it later, once the connection is lower back.
“We have combined IoT and AI in the gadget. While IoT enables us and the client to recognize the precise quantity of cups consumed over a given period of time, AI affords information about customer behaviour i.E. Which tea – ginger, masala, green or black tea – customers opt to devour. This, in flip, facilitates us maintain our subsequent set of sparkling refills equipped for the machines. This is a unique way to forecast the demand.”
The IoT issue similarly allows the consumer to decide if there is any blockage in the machine. The gadget has were given sensors and in case of any blockage, it sends alerts traumatic renovation requirements.
Sandesh says, “With V1, it turned into more about the assignment to get the hardware proper. With V2, we infused the software program with the hardware to make it work seamlessly.” “We don’t promote the gadget. The gadget is a component and parcel of an annual contract that we offer. This is due to the fact we additionally want to make sure the right service together with the timely deliver of inputs through Chai Point’s tea blends and maintenance of the dispensers round it,” informs Sandesh.
He similarly defined that the splendor of the gadget lies in providing the maximum hygiene during the tea-making method. “The tea waste is disposed via the pipe and it doesn’t get accrued in the device. The gadget has got auto-flush facilities in which hot water flows across the device and self-cleans it,” explains Sandesh.
We have already applied for a patent for the hardware in addition to the software variations of BoxC
In the V2 gadget, possible effortlessly pick the regions which they want to easy. Since the water and milk are fed via inlet pipes, there's no issue regarding capacity as such.
The size of the gadget, thus, does now not depend upon how many teacups one calls for on a day by day foundation. The organization has additionally sorted small matters inside the design, together with adequate area for small in addition to massive cups.
“We have already applied for a patent for the hardware in addition to the software variations of BoxC,” says Sudesh.
SHARK: The Operational Brain Behind BoxC And Chai Point
The complete records is stored within the cloud. Chai Point has evolved an in-residence SHARK platform on AWS that is the spine of its complete operations. It collects and feeds the records to the app, internet site, and so on. The platform has additionally been integrated with meals transport sites along with Zomato, Swiggy, and so forth.
SHARK takes care of all components of income, delivery orders, IoT-enabled answers for BoxC and merchandise being sold on more than one channels. The platform is likewise beneficial to combine AI for the cost optimisation, efficient operation and clean backend operation.
The gadget is likewise connected to the telephones of workplace boys thru the app known as ‘call of obligation’. The machine automatically sends notifications regarding the form of tea or the amount of tea and milk left for refilling. The device tracks the information of every cup spending and updates the server reminiscence. Hence, there may be a entire transparency in terms of intake.
Sandesh says, “The statistics also facilitates inside the similarly customisation of flavours.”
SHARK routinely collates remarks from distinct resources which receives stored in an excel sheet which assist the group to apprehend the marketplace. Even if a small issue of the system is not live or practical, SHARK helps the renovation team know that.
“Currently, the revenue version is sent 60:40 between the shops and BoxC. However, BoxC is catching up,” Amuleek shared.
Chai Point: What Comes Next After Brewing Tea?
“There is a bunch of answers such as serving breakfast together with Chai, including ice tea facility to the dispensers, bringing wallet-based dispensers inside the market and more like that on which we're operating to combine with our services,” says Amuleek.
For the startup, that is just the beginning. “We are excited by ice tea as every other viable presenting,” he adds. The employer is presently operating on the ice tea shelling out facility.
The startup is likewise operating on a wallet-based totally shelling out machine which can be independently set up at airports, hospitals, malls and different public locations. As in keeping with Amuleek, its prototype could be equipped this yr.
And that’s now not sufficient! The Chai Point crew is also running on machines of smaller form element that would be independently hooked up at homes for non-public uses. The prototype is predicted to be geared up in the next twelve months.
Besides deepening its presence in existing towns, a number of the alternative cities that are very an awful lot on the agency’s radar for expansion are Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.
At gift, Chai Point has around 1 Mn priority loyalty-primarily based customers. However, the overall wide variety of customers extends to five Mn.
When requested whether or not Chai Point is planning to follow a franchise Model, Amuleek averred, “In India, franchise paths can degrade the logo value. That’s why we haven’t adopted this model. As the surroundings is converting, so is our brand. It is extraordinarily critical to have the entire control to your hand as opposed to in franchises.”
The company has partnered with one tea estate in Nilgiri and four tea country estates in Assam for sparkling deliveries of tea leaves. While CCD has already turn out to be a household call within the metros, Chai Point may have the ability to move past the metros, to penetrate the tea-buds in every house inside the united states of america.
Besides offering tea, Chai Point additionally intends to become a software program corporation by way of providing independent SHARK answers to smaller retail and eating place chains across India.
Given that India is the sort of massive and enormous marketplace, as a ways as tea intake is worried, an insignificant presence of few tea retail chains is not about competing with each different however encashing the untapped opportunity, particularly for the reason that penetration of organised tea retail chain shops continues to be very low within the u . S .. The venture for Chai Point is to satisfy the burgeoning call for, without compromising on best and value-effectiveness. How the imminent IoT-enabled wallet-based dispensers meet the heat, Inc42 will hold to file from ground zero!