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Published on: June 14, 2021, 5:44 p.m.
At Chai Sutta Bar, East meets West
  • Dubey and Nayak: building and expanding the brand

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

The original idea when they set up Chai Sutta Bar (CSB) was to come out with a food venture. And, once they decided to do it, Anubhav Dubey, 27, and his friend and co-founder Anand Nayak, 28, roped in Rahul Patidar, 25, too. Dubey and Nayak had started their entrepreneurial journey in Madhya Pradesh, when they were in their 20s. It was only after they had brought CSB into existence that Patidar pitched in to become a joint partner. 

Aiming to do something of his own, Nayak had earlier started a garment business along with some members of his family but, in due course, he realised that this was not his cup of tea. So, together with Dubey, he started an F&B venture, which went on to become their cup of tea – CSB India.

Back, in 2016, while preparing for UPSC exams, the duo was toying with the idea of selling chai in a special manner. “The original idea was to have a self-owned food venture,” recalls Dubey. For him, CSB was then just a stepping stone. The founders just wanted to put minimum capital to get maximum benefits – and F&B looked to carry the least risk or had the least chance of making a loss.

“Hence, it became the obvious choice,” affirms Nayak. “The second challenge was to choose a product that was either niche or extremely mass and chai fitted the bill, as it is perhaps the second-most consumed fluid on earth, after water”. So, CSB became the dream project, which materialised into reality for the three friends. The idea was to serve tea and coffee in the traditional way, but on a bar table – giving the original tea concept a twist but still preserving the social and cultural style that prevailed in India since ages.

A great offering

So, the founders mixed a traditional Indian product with the hints of western ways of serving it, to make a great offering at the market place. “As we spent most of our life in Indore, we thought that city would be the most potential market for the venture; hence, began the journey of Chai Sutta Bar,” explains Nayak. 

“The idea was to serve the student community, as also cater to the masses,” informs Patidar. And, with this idea, they priced the products as low and pocket-friendly as possible, “so that we could cater to the maximum number of taste buds”. In barely five years, they built the brand up and expanded it to over 70 cities in India and also moved to three other countries (Nepal, Oman & Dubai), while netting a turnover of about Rs50 crore.

“Today, the uniqueness and high-quality taste of our product has helped the brand to expand and cater to 140 plus outlets all over India,” adds Nayak. “We serve a minimum of 300,000 kulhads (earthen containers) a day, all of them nurtured with humble and welcoming service experience. The management at Chai Sutta Bar understands the responsibility towards Mother Nature and ensures to fulfill it each day with every eco-friendly kulhad of happiness the brand offers to its customers, along with providing a monthly income to over 500 plus potter families”

CSB provides over 10 types of unique chai and a handful of food items on the menu. “Alongside, in its endeavour to fulfill its corporate social responsibilities, the brand has offered jobs to over 1,000 below-poverty-line people, including differently-abled persons and orphans”.

“Every business needs its USP,” adds Dubey. “And, thinking about what could possibly be a USP of Chai Sutta Bar, we latched on to the idea of distinguishing the idea of chai and giving it an ambience that people would like to remember. We got our traditional chai to be served at the bar, which differentiated us from our competitors. Still, we thought that chai should be priced at a cost that everyone could afford. So, our one kulhad of chai is sold at Rs10; also everything else on our menu costs below Rs200”.

“There may be some coffee sellers that can be our potential competitors; however, we would not like to look at any F&B brand as our competitor,” observes Dubey. 

CSB is indeed boot-strapped, having been established with an initial capital of Rs3 lakh. “Yes, by the end of this year or may be next, we aim to invite investors for funding,” informs the trio, who shares the vision to serve kulhads of chai across the length and breadth of the country and also reach out to the neighbours.

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