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TGL Co.- sourcing the best Hot Beverages (Teas & Coffees)

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TGL Co. founded by Bhuman Dani & Shariq Ashraf is a fastest growing hot beverage startup sources the finest quality of teas and coffees around the world.

A Brief Note on TGL Co. and its growth storyTGL, tea, Coffee, Hot Beverages, Bhuman Dani, Shariq Ashraf

The Good Life Company, popularly known as TGL Co. is the fastest growing hot beverages startup in India that sources the finest quality teas and coffees from around the world with deep focus on natural, fresh and clean ingredients.

At TGL Co. (The Good Life Company), we emphatically believe that the world’s finest teas and coffees should be an everyday indulgence that celebrate sophistication, tranquility and good health.

And that is why we are devoted to bringing an articulate revival to the known hot beverage experience by sourcing the best teas & coffees in the world and masterfully blending them with innovative flavours and botanicals.

With every brew and blend, we’re reviving the concept of tea and taking it places to where it has never been before.

  • TGL has witnessed exponential growth over the past 24 months. Revenues have grown ~7x in the past 18 months and the ultimate aim is to create an INR 100 Cr revenue brand by 2024
  • We have sold over 5 tonnes of tea and over 2 tonnes of coffee in the past 12 months – thats ~25L cups of tea and ~3L cups of coffee
  • We are serving more than 50,000 happy customers and repeat buyers
  • TGL is now available at more than 200 hotels, restaurants and cafes across 9 Indian cities including popular properties such as Taj, Marriott, Westin, SOFITEL, Lalit, Hyatt, Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Indigo, Smoke House Deli, The A Club, Fatty Bao and many more.
  • TGL is also retailing at more than 400 points of sales at popular modern trade stores such as Godrej Natures Basket, HAIKO across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata and Delhi-NCR
  • TGL is also available at the Mumbai International Airport in the duty free shopping areas and on the in-flight menu onboard GoAir flights
  • The brand is also retailing at more than 400 points of sales at popular modern trade stores such as Godrej Natures Basket, Foodhall, HAIKO, Fine Foods, Dorabjee’s, Modern Bazaar, Le Marche, Honey Money Top, across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata and Delhi-NCR.
  • In addition to that, TGL is also available at the Mumbai International Airport in the duty free shopping areas, on the in-flight menu on-board GoAir flights, at all CoWrks outlets across the country.
  • TGL teas is now available at both domestic and international airport lounges and QSRs across Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Goa.
  • Parallely, they are expanding their online channels of sale with their own website and third-party marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket. They are also tapping the US market via their own website and Amazon US and will be soon be expanding internationally to cover UK, Russia, Middle East and other Asian countries.
  • TGL has launched in UAE with a local distributor. Already available at Copper Chimney and Ghinwa Cafe, Flora Barsha in Dubai. The strategy is to target 5-star properties and fine-dine restaurants to begin with and then get into retail outlets. We believe the Middle East will be the biggest revenue generator from exports over the next 3 years.

Tell us everything about your company, what does it do? What were the challenges of setting up and scale? How did you overcome them?

Coffee, Hot Beverages, TGL

Headquartered in Mumbai, the brand was co-founded by Bhuman Dani and Shariq Ashraf in Oct 2016. TGL Co. offers exotic tea blends with real fruits, flowers, herbs and spices handcrafted at their state-of-the-art contract manufactured blending facilities in Europe under the controlled supervision of culinary experts, botanists and tea masters.

It also offers a variety of coffees under one roof. Whether it’s International coffees from renowned estates or high-quality Indian beans from popular Indian estates or naturally flavoured coffees or instant coffees or even the quintessential Filter coffee, TGL has it all! It sources green beans from award winning estates around the world and roasts them fresh in micro-batches in Mumbai under the controlled supervision of experts and coffee tasters. The roasted beans are finally ground at each point of sales just before dispatch to ensure the freshest experience of coffees for its consumers.

Every startup from the outset is implicitly prepared to deal with various crisis and dilemmas through the journey. However, some dilemmas can still astound you, mainly because it wasn’t anticipated, or you simply don’t know how to respond to it. One such factor that took us by surprise was the phenomenal growth our products received. We grew too fast too early! While we were extremely happy with the response we received, at the same time, we weren’t prepared then operationally to match the demand. And therefore, we did experience a phase where we had delays in order processing and manual errors in some orders.

With time, we have been able to equip ourselves operationally to match the demand by implementing automated production practices and expanding our team.

In order to live up to our goals, our biggest challenge was to get the sourcing model right. For this, we personally visited dozens of plantations across various countries, interacted with numerous tea masters and sommeliers, and selected the leaves from the plantations that were as fanatical about focus on high quality as we were!

Working out the supply chain to get these teas from around the world into Europe for blending, and then finally to India for selling was also a major logistical challenge. In order to ensure the freshness of the teas and the blends, we decided to air freight everything instead of the traditional, cheaper shipping model. While this adds significantly to our costs, we believe the value it adds to the freshness of our teas is invaluable, and it allows us to fulfil our promise to our customers of providing them with nothing but the absolute best!

Give us a background of your core team along with the total strength of TGL Co..Bhuman Dani, Shariq Ashraf

Bhuman & Shariq met at a Mumbai alumni event of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a leading global management consulting firm, where both had previously worked. Now this is what we call serendipitea! Their shared love for tea and coffee coupled with a passion to bring inspired blends and beans to millions in the country brought them together to change the norm for hot beverages in India and almost instantly, they had created The Good Life Company or TGL Co.

Co-founders:

Bhuman Dani

  • Ex-management consultant with BCG – London
  • MBA from INSEAD (2013-2014)
  • E. Mechanical Engg. From BITS Pilani Dubai (2006-10)

Shariq Ashraf

  • Ex-management consultant with BCG – Melbourne
  • MBA from Oxford (2009-2010)
  • BBM from Singapore Management University (2003-2007)

Currently, we have a diverse team of 150+ members across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Kolkata led by Department Heads with more than 10+ years of experience in the industry.

Advisors & Mentors

The company was conceptualised after detailed discussions with Jane Pettigrew, Sanjeev Mehta, Ines Berton and certain BCG partners. While none are directly involved with the company at the moment, they will always be considered mentors for us.

 What is the business model of TGL Co.and how does it work?

We have different channels of sales based on our target market and each of them operate on a direct or commission basis model. Our business model primarily comprises of the following channels:

  1. HORECA (Direct sale)
  2. Offline Retail (Commission model)
  3. Online Retail via own website (Direct sale)
  4. Online Retail via third-party websites such as Nykaa, Amazon etc (Commission model)
  5. Gifting (Direct sale)

Recognitions & Awards:

  • Recognized as “Most Promising Brand 2019” by Economic Times
  • Awarded “Best Entrepreneur of the year”at The Indo French Business Awards 2019
  • Recognized by CEO Insights as “10 Best Startup Brands in India 2019”
  • Bronze medal winner at the prestigious Global Tea Championship 2019 held at Colorado, USA
  • Awarded Coca-Cola Golden Spoon Award 2019 for “Most Admired Food Startup of theYear”
  • Listed in Sutra HR’s “Top 100 Startups to Watch in 2019”
  • Awarded ET Now Global Award for Retail Excellence 2019 for “Food & Grocery Brand of the Year” (Hot Beverages)
  • Recognized as an innovative startup by Amazon and listed on Amazon Select. Awarded Amazon Connect Extra Mile Award for “Outstanding Performance in 2018”

 

What is the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors and what’s your revenue model?

There are 3 aspect that set our teas & coffees completely apart from our competitors:

TGL Teas

  1. a) Sourcing of tea leaves: Most players source their leaves from the Indian subcontinent – that is India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Nothing wrong with that! India is the second largest producer of tea but an Oolong leaf grows best in Taiwan. A white tea grows best in the Fujian province of China. The humidity, temperature, altitude, alkalinity in soil is optimal for these leaves to grow in these regions. So at TGL, instead of just limiting ourselves to the Indian subcontinent, we have also gone to China, Taiwan, Japan, Sri Lanka etc and sourced the finest leaves from these countries.
  2. b) Sourcing of ingredients: Most players source their ingredients locally – which is why the range is limited and quality is sub-optimal. At TGL, after we’ve got these leaves from around the world, we ship them to Europe to our contract manufactured blending facility wherein we mix our teas with dehydrated fruits, flowers and natural flavours in the presence of European botanists and culinary experts – botanists to ensure our blends are amazingly healthy and culinary experts to ensure the optimal taste! Which is why the ingredients we use are both unavailable and unheard of in the country – such as Barberries, Mallow petals, Schizandra Berries, Muira Puama, Thistle flowers, Osmanthus, etc.

Apart from being amazingly tasty – most of these ingredients have medicinal values. We follow a streamlined central purchasing principle – source ingredients from locations they grow best – for example our barberries come from Iran, our Schizandra Berries from Russia, Muira Puama from the Amazon rainforest, Mangoes and Strawberries from India, etc.

  1. c) The blend overall: Most players have simple, conventional blends – Green tea with mint, Green tea with ginger, Green tea with rose, Earl Grey, English breakfast, Chamomile etc. A typical blend that TGL Co. offers is Green Sencha Tea mixed with mango, banana, melon, guava, sunflowers, cornflowers and Passion flower leaves. 8 ingredients in one tea so it’s extremely flavourful, extremely tasty, extremely healthy, has less than 6 calories a cup and is extremely high in quality because of our sourcing process.

TGL Coffees

  1. Sourced from the best plantations: Some of the best coffee in the world grows in high appellation regions – as high as 2000 ft above media sea level and anywhere between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn – and in places with rich tree shade and a desirable microclimate. These are the kinds of coffee that we seek out for our tightly curated collection. Our range includes the highest quality Arabica beans from the best placed coffee plantations world over, including Ethiopian Yirgachaffe, Colombian Excelso, El Salvador Santa Cristina, Peruvian Organic Coffee, Brazilian Santos and coffee from award-winning coffee estates in India.
  2. Expertly roasted beans: When you buy coffee off-the shelf, it is likely you are buying something roasted many months ago and hence, stale. The truth is that the best tasting coffee is the one that is made from a batch of recently roasted beans – the flavors are freshly extracted and hence, in prime form. TGL Indian coffees are roasted once every two weeks, and in small lots, to ensure the flavors are crisp, bright and intense, and for the good haul.
  3. Ground to-order: Pre-ground coffee rarely produces a cup that can match the complexity of the flavors and aromas that seep from a freshly ground lot. This is because from the moment the beans are ground, air starts to take effect. Most store-bought coffee is roasted many moons ago, and ground to a generic, industrial- standard. In a sharp contrast, we prefer and encourage grinding freshly roasted beans to- order, and to the drinker’s preferred way of brewing. This way, the coffee is exposed to minimal oxidative degradation and retains flavor better.

What were the challenges you faced during your journey and how did you overcome them?

When we had initially started out, we had a very narrow, well defined slice of the population as the target audience. We absolutely, strongly believe our products stand out in terms of quality – and so right from the beginning, our strategy has been to get as many people to sample and try our products as possible. This we achieve through 3 means – by partnering with the best hotels, restaurants and cafes in the country, like Taj, Marriott, Westin, SOFITEL, Lalit, Hyatt, Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Indigo, Smoke House Deli, The A Club, Fatty Bao and many more. By taking part in multiple events throughout the year and doing samplings. And by entering modern trade through Shop in Shop concepts, where all our teas and coffees are displayed in beautiful glass jars, and the customer gets to smell and taste the products and realise the quality of our offering. This helped build and anchor our brand. This was further leveraged by a wider sales and distribution network, by being available at almost every major e-commerce platform online, as well as our own website, and on shelf at multiple retail locations.

How are you funded?

We have raised INR 8.75 Cr in the past 2 years from various strategic angel investors.

What are the services offered to the customers?teas, tea, Coffee

TGL Co. offers exotic tea blends with real fruits, flowers, herbs and spices handcrafted at their state-of-the-art contract manufactured blending facilities in Europe under the controlled supervision of culinary experts, botanists and tea masters. Apart from being amazingly tasty – most of these ingredients have medicinal values. We follow a streamlined central purchasing principle – source ingredients from locations they grow best – for example the barberries come from Iran, Schizandra Berries from Russia, Muira Puama from the Amazon rainforest, Mangoes and Strawberries from India, etc.

A typical blend that TGL Co. offers is Green Sencha Tea mixed with mango, banana, melon, guava, sunflowers, cornflowers and Passion flower leaves. 8 ingredients in one tea so it’s extremely flavourful, extremely tasty, extremely healthy, has less than 6 calories a cup and is extremely high in quality because of our sourcing process. Some of the other bestselling teas are Mogo Mogo Green Tea, Kashmiri Saffron Kahwa Green Tea, Lemon Detox Green Tea.

TGL Co. has also introduced a line of wellness tisanes or herbal infusions as a part of their wellness collection. These teas are formulated with medicinal herbs, spices and flowers known to improve digestion, sleep, immunity and support weight loss.

The teas are available in loose leaf form as well as in the form of biodegradable pyramid teabags, individually packed in nitrogen flushed sachets.

Witnessing the growing market of premium FMCG products, TGL Co. introduced a variety of coffees under one roof, pioneering the concept of freshly roasted coffees in retail.

Our range includes the highest quality Arabica beans from the best placed coffee plantations world over, including Ethiopian Yirgachaffe, Colombian Excelso, El Salvador Santa Cristina, Peruvian Organic Coffee, Brazilian Santos and coffee from award-winning coffee estates in India. The best tasting coffee is the one that is made from a batch of recently roasted beans – the flavors are freshly extracted and hence, in prime form. TGL Indian coffees are roasted once every two weeks, and in small lots, to ensure the flavors are crisp, bright and intense, and for the good haul. Pre-ground coffee rarely produces a cup that can match the complexity of flavors and aromas that seep from a freshly ground lot.  TGL Co. encourages grinding freshly roasted beans to-order, and to the drinker’s preferred way of brewing. This way, the coffee is exposed to minimal oxidative degradation and retains flavor better.

Apart from the fresh coffees, TGL Co. offers a variety of Instant Coffees including variants of Freeze Dried Instant Coffee made from 100% Arabica Beans. Other variants include instant coffee from blends of Arabica and Robusta Coffee beans and also a popular innovative Signature Instant Filter Coffee.

Today, TGL Co.’s product offering ranges from teas and coffees from internationally renowned estates as well as high-quality tea leaves and coffee beans from popular Indian estates. We also offer CTC Black teas, tea premixes, naturally flavoured coffees, instant coffees and wellness teas, all in innovative form, all under one roof.

TGL Co. offers a range of tea and coffee accessories for brewing. It also offers premium gifting options comprising of teas, coffees and an accessory. These gift sets are customizable and make for a perfect gifting option for Diwali gifting or wedding favors.

What is your Future plan? And how do you see your Startup in the coming years?

Over the next 5 years, we aim to become the largest premium hot beverages player in the country. It sounds like a tall claim, and it is, but we sincerely believe we can get there – but to get there, we have to be obsessively focused on getting the 3 Ps perfect – Product, Price and Penetration, and we know we have a winner on each of those 3 fronts.

  1. Product:In every segment that we operate, we offer only the highest quality of products, with clear segmentation to appeal to various distinctive tastes and demographics. We can confidently say, there is not a single Indian tea player who has teas and blends like we do. The closest competitor in quality is TWG from Singapore, but they sell at 5x – 7x our price points.
  2. Price:While we have priced our products aggressively, it is undeniable that there is a premiumisation trend at play in India. The new India isn’t just price conscious, going for the cheapest offering, but is value conscious, and evaluates the quality of product offered at the price point, and decides the product with the best value proposition. That is exactly what we’re targeting
  3. Penetration:We’ve strategically leveraged omni-channel retail to ensure that we achieve deep market penetration through various touch points

Channels of Sale:

– Retail: TGL to launch teas and coffees in retail packs at 1000 Points oTea, Coffee, Hot Beveragesf Sale across Tier I cities in India over the next 6 months

– Online: TGL to increase online sales, both own website and third party online marketplaces. We’re also setting up an international website to be able to serve multiple countries through our own website.

– HoReCa: Association with popular properties Taj Exotica, Taj Rambaug and Taj Bengal for supplying teas & coffees in rooms as well as on the menu

– Alternate channels of Sale – Collaboration and listing with various co-working spaces, gymnasiums and airlines

  1. Team: TGL aims to grow the team to over 200+ professionals in the next 12 months
  2. International expansion is definitely on the cards for us. We’ve already initiated establishing a presence in the UAE, and believe the Middle East will be a very interesting market for us. Other than that, we’re also setting up an international website, much like to be able to serve multiple countries through our own website.

Finally your advice for Budding Entrepreneurs?

Take the leap

The toughest part is always deciding when to start. If you have a disruptive idea and are passionate about it, go for it.

Build a great team

There is no “I” in Entrepreneur – learn to delegate. The growth of every company is almost always proportional to the growth of its key executives.

Stay focussed and prioritize well
Running a startup is like captaining a ship on fire and in a storm. Douse the fire or stay afloat or give direction to the ship?Plan out your schedule and prioritize accordingly to increase productivity. So you are better equipped to handle unforeseen obstacles, which will come everyday!

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