We’re Planning To Set Up Around 50 Stores In Next 6-month: Prem Raheja, The Betel Leaf Co

In an interview with BW Disrupt, Prem Raheja, Founder & CEO, The Betel Leaf Co, talks about the company's plan where they can replace paan as a healthy Indian dessert and more

Tell us something about yourself and Betel Leaf's journey.

I fetched the idea of launching The Betel Leaf Co. after my nutritionist advised me to try chewing paan to reduce bloating after meals. In my recollection, after extensive research, I finally settled on a Paan that had NO tobacco-related condiments. Within a few days, I developed a taste for flavour. During this process, I also realised that Paan varies from shop to shop, however, many paan shops I visited, were using betel leaves of lower grade. As the company's founders, me and my wife Payal Raheja are excited about the idea of reviving an ancient Indian tradition with a wholesome Indian dessert. Betel Leaf Co wants to show its clients how flexible a paan can be by bringing a variety of paans to the table. The business buys premium betel leaves and condiments to conclude this process, and conditions their paans in a distinctive manner while adhering to strict quality standards and precise recipes to retain the flavour. We seek to create the first direct-to-consumer paan business that you can enjoy from the comfort of your homes.

How is Betel Leaf different from other Paan brands?

We are one of the first FSSAI-certified D2C Paan brands that stand apart as it ensures that all our Paan products are 100 per cent tobacco-free, suitable for all Ages and delivered right to your doorstep. The thorough market research led me to discover that while paan is loved by many, it lacks respect due to a lack of acceptable quality, unsuitable packaging, the fact that it is sold in filthy conditions, and is not readily available. Betel Leaf has combined technology and tradition to guarantee that its Paan maintains its distinctive flavour and taste, irrespective of the location of the store where it is prepared under the utmost hygienic conditions. The brand aspires to make paan a happy way to conclude your meal by offering over 45 flavours. 

The experience is elevated to new heights by our specialised paans. These paan's from TBLC are packaged individually in three-layered nitrogen vacuum pillow pouches that are beautifully piled in boxes with a rose flavour-refreshing wet wipe to clean your hands, making it the perfect treat or gift. They are packed utilising techniques that can keep the paan fresh for up to 95 hours without the use of preservatives. 

The Betel Leaf Co. has observed throughout its 34-month business that, of the 8000 orders placed each month, 3000 boxes are for Magai. Betel Leaf Co., a primarily D2C business, has separated its orders into three parts: the direct orders that come through the company's website and WhatsApp account for 25 per cent of all orders, and about 55% come through online platforms due to the convenience of last-mile connectivity. Additionally, the brand has partnered with hotels and offline locations like five-star pub restaurants, where roughly 10 to 15 per cent of the revenue is generated.

Betel Leaf Co. has won the Best Paan Award, Nationwide Hospitality Awards 2021-2022 by Business Mint, the creative start-up award, and is also ranked 104 on Super Start-up Wednesday

What are your growth and expansion plans?

The Betel Leaf Co raised $200K in funding in the middle of May 2020; led by Mr Mohit Satyanand, a very sporadic investor and the former brand owner of the product line Cracks Chips. In December 2021, an additional $900,000 was raised from venture capitalists and serial investors, totalling $1.1 million in the previous 18 to the 24-month runway. The brand plans on re-assessing another funding in December 2022, as they hit the milestone of 50 stores, and re-evaluate their employee base. We have 28 stores at this stage across 16 cities and more than 80 members team. We have plans on setting up at least 50 dark stores in the next 6 months, adding some key cities Like Lucknow, Chandigarh, and Kolkata. In terms of products, front leaders in innovating the world’s first Betel Leaf tea, PAAN blended Ice Cream, and paan-infused chocolate bars.

A traditional Paan is always a preferred favourite amongst consumers and generates 65 per cent of business for The Betel Leaf Co. The remaining 35 per cent of their revenue comes from flavour-infused Paans, such as chocolate, coffee, or tiramisu. It has come to light that even after chewing down on a flavour-infused paan, consumers turn to a Saada paan to satiate their cravings. 

What do you want to accomplish and how do you nominate success?                                                                        

I think, when I started there was a very strong thought and effort put to make sure that the product is uniform because a brand like Coke or McDonald's today is consistent throughout the world which imbues a certain sense of comfort so the same way we want to build a brand that can ultimately resonate with pan consumers. We want The Betel Leaf Co to be a synonym for the word Paan and because paan is healthy, we can replace it as a healthy Indian dessert as it has been around in our traditional history for the last 5000 years. Accomplishment would be if we could contribute a small share of that synonym with the consumers alike.

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