Chaayos, India’s largest and most loved chai café chain is the result of a morning in Houston when Nitin Saluja and his wife found themselves in rare agreement on the scarcity of fresh, clean, and good chai outside their home. And this got Saluja thinking. What occurred to him then became the genesis of Chaayos. With that seed rooted, for two years Saluja worked on the idea of opening a chai café chain in India and his idea finally bore fruit with launch of first Chaayos café at Cyber City Gurgaon in November 2012.
Indeed, Saluja, Founder and CEO of Chaayos, is the man behind India’s chai café revolution. In a short span of five years, he has created India’s most loved chai café chain with 53 cafes across seven cities Delhi, Mumbai, Noida, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Ambala and Karnal and a 800-member team. Chaayos added 25 stores just in the last one year. It is serving more than 16,000 cups of tea every day.
Chaayos is a modern chai adda that prides itself for having implemented three unique features that set it up for the contemporary consumer. First, it is the only chai café chain that offers total customisation of chai in over 12,000 combinations. Second, ability to serve its customers on occasions when they are unable to come to Chaayos café via ‘Chai on demand’ that is chai delivery service. Chaayos delivers piping hot chai in innovatively designed disposable Kettles that keeps chai hot for up to 90 minutes. Third, Chaayos’ commitment to serve a consistent cup of custom made chai every single time led Chaayos to develop a chai robot, called the Chai Monk. Monk uses the same ingredients and imitates the same process that is today used to brew chai’ at Chaayos.
Even the food menu at Chaayos revolves around what goes best with tea. A bun samosa, a kulhad butter chicken kulcha or a chocolate factory cake are great accompaniments to tea. Since inception, Chaayos has seen a fantastic customer repeat rate and a 100 per cent year-on-year revenue growth. The company also witnessed a healthy contribution from its deliveries (20 per cent) and food business (45 per cent), to the overall company revenues. It ended FY18 with revenues of about Rs 52 crore and aims of clocking revenues of Rs 100 crore over the next two years.
In September, the company has raised $12 million (approx. Rs 81 crore) in a Series B round of funding from venture capital firm SAIF Partners, Integrated Capital and Pacatolus. This investment will fuel growth plans of Chaayos as it expands its retail footprint in existing markets of Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Chandigarh. This infusion of funds will be used to strengthen its foothold in the already existing markets by introducing more cafes.
Previously, Chaayos has raised $7 million from Tiger Global. Chaayos is the only non-tech investment of Tiger Global in the world.
Earlier this year, the company had appointed former Jubilant Foodworks CEO Ajay Kaul as its Chief Advisor with an aim to scale up to 300 outlets in India over the next five years.
“As we embark on our next phase of growth, we aim to further consolidate our presence in existing markets with new outlets across cities,” Saluja adds.
As one entrepreneur to another, the advice Saluja offers to people who are starting off on their journey is to “believe in yourself more than anything else. Teams change, ideas evolve but it is your grit that is an essential ingredient of your success”.