In an interaction with Restaurant India, Robin Jha, Co-Founder, Tpot Cafe talks about the growing trend of tea cafes in India.
Tell us about your journey setting up the first cafe?
We started from Malviya Nagar in 2013 at a different location where we are present now. The initial reason was not to build a chain or something but it was just to see what is the kind of traction tea as a segment can cater and how many people will actually be interested to come to a cafe which only brews tea. The first six months was about trial and experiments bringing us good reactions. There were two three things that we received from customers- the age group that was coming to us was somewhere 20-35 years, there was a huge number of people who came to us telling they were looking for a place like this. It was then we started focusing on corporate crowd and corporate locations. And, that’s how we started building smaller cafes of this outlet standing towards corporate areas.
Who invested in the company initially?
We bootstrapped the company and didn’t raise any round of funding for couple of years as we wanted to setup a model for us before proposing it to investors.
You recently raised investments. Where can we see that money being invested?
We raised a pre-series A round and are looking to raise the next round by March 2017. We are talking to couple of investors but it’s an early discussion. We have expanded from eight outlets to 23 outlets and another 5-7 are in pipeline. We are targeting around 30 outlets in one and half months. We clearly wanted to make a mid management in the system as we were only three including my two co-founders. We wanted people to join us and build the vision that our company has and I was fortunate that the right kind of talent joined us at senior management levels and we want to add more people in our systems going forward.
Who are some of the corporate you have tied up?
We work with Paytm, Goibibo, Smartqueue, Makemy Trip to name a few. The idea was to reach out to these large offices and it is very good to build a brand because they are already aware about your consistency and quality.
What was the whole idea behind starting a tea only cafe?
Every opportunity comes with a problem. Ours is a supply side problem because people wanted it. We are second largest country in terms of consumption globally and we are very big tea market. The only idea is that the concept of only milk based tea is out and there is a wide variety of tea that is available in the market. We want to build the customer for other kind of tea for eg- Herbal tea which I would suggest a person to drink at least once in a day as it is a Tulsi based tea and it increases your immunity.
You also sell your tea online. Tell us something about it.
All our tea is 100 per cent organic. It is either whole or broken leaves. It is completely the best available in the market. Our tea is available on Amazon and other e-commerce portals.
How have you designed the menu at our outlets?
We have two kinds of menu one that is available at our normal cafes and one that is available at apartment cafes. The one which is available at most of the location is a quick service menu which includes stuff like sandwiches, wraps, pao, garlic breads, toast, muffin etc. But at our premium cafes we do lots of pan Asian menu- thai curries, Turkish pulao and other pan Asian menu.
From where did you source the tea?
We source our teas from Darjeeling. We have your vendors and sub vendors who directly supplies us.
What is your average daily footfall?
On daily basis we are catering to around 5000 customers because the product itself caters to a varied customer base plus it is not very expensive.
Who is your target customer? What is the repeat rate?
Our target is young audience between 25-40 age group with high repeat value. Currently we have per cent of repeat that varies location to location. At some location we have 85-88 per cent repeat customers whereas at others it is 65-70 per cent.
What is your plan going forward?
We want to reach monthly revenue of around one crore by December-January.
At this point our focus is Delhi-NCR market because we have made a base in the market and we want to grow in this region before expanding to other parts. We see that there is a potential of at least 150 odd locations of cafes in Delhi NCR. Metro, Hospitals are a good location. We are available at Rajeev Chowk, Phase III in Gurgaon and couple of metro station is already signed.