SupportBiz presents an exclusive chat with Chirag Yadav, founder of Chaipatty. Find out what Chirag has to say about his Bangalore, chai and entrepreneurship.
How long has Chaipatty Teafe been in operation?
The first Chaipatty outlet was started in Indira Nagar, Bangalore, in December 2010. So, Chaipatty has been in operation for almost a year and four months now.
Do you have any other branches?
Yes, we have another branch in Koramangala and one more in Whitefield. Very recently, we have taken up the Jagriti Theatre in Whitefield as well. So, we have four branches in Bangalore in total.
What were you doing prior to starting Chaipatty?
I am basically an Electronics and Communications engineer. For several years, I worked with a number of MNCs in marketing and business development. At a certain point, I decided I wanted to start a business of my own and so, I went ahead and joined a salsa class as an instructor. I acted as a salsa instructor for a while, after which I started a branding and social media marketing firm called Projexionz. Both of these ventures were before I started Chaipatty.
How did you come up with the idea of starting Chaipatty?
Both – the salsa classes and the social media marketing firm - did not satisfy the creative individual inside me who was looking to create something very warm and personal. That’s how the idea of Chaipatty Teafe was born. Moreover, I was tired of the customer alienation and commercialization of cafes in Bangalore, and wanted to create an interactive and friendly space. That is what Chaipatty is, till date.
Why did you choose Bangalore as your base of operation?
I felt that the public in Bangalore is very welcoming, in terms of new ventures and loves to try out new things. Moreover, Bangalore has heavenly weather. Both these aspects were perfect for the kind of hangout space that I had in mind.
How did you choose the name Chaipatty for your venture?
‘Chaipatty’ is actually a play on ‘Chowpatty’ in Mumbai. I feel that Chowpatty is a place where people go to chill out, relax and enjoy their food as well as their surroundings, and create a personal bond with the place. That’s what I was aiming to create with Chaipatty.
‘Teafe’ is a variation of ‘Café’, since we are majorly into serving tea.
How many people visit Chaipatty Teafe on an average day?
Our Indira Nagar outlet gets visited by approximately 200-250 people on an average week day. On the weekends, we get close to 600-700 visitors in a day.
What are your expansion plans?
We aim to have at least 6-7 outlets in Bangalore, and are planning for creating a presence in at least 30-35 cities in India. I have plans to take Chaipatty to an international level as well.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Looking back on Chaipatty’s journey makes me the proudest as an entrepreneur. What started as a humble little space in Indira Nagar has grown by leaps and bounds. We are jam-packed on weekends and week days alike, and considering that we have never advertised, it is a great achievement.
All publicity about us has been word-of-mouth. We have been written about in several newspapers and magazines, and on a number of blogs. Media outlets like The Huffington Post have written about us, and that is something!
Recently, Zomato conducted a survey of the ‘Top 25 restaurants’ in Bangalore, and Chaipatty was one of them. A café has never been featured in the same league as restaurants before this, and I am immensely proud of that.
I started Chaipatty with a bit of personal investment, a little financial help from my father, and a loan from one of my friends. The Indira Nagar outlet broke even in just eight months after its launch, and today, we are one of the most profitable ventures in the locality. What a long way we have come!
My father is extremely proud of me and Chaipatty, and that is one of my biggest achievements.
If I have to cite one particular incident that made me the proudest as an entrepreneur, I would say it was the day when the first Chaipatty outlet was launched in Indira Nagar. We did not have any visitors till about 5 PM, and then, about 50-60 people came in, leaving me overwhelmed.
Most of them left happy and satisfied. One elderly lady, after having chai at our place, came up to me and said that I would go places if that was the kind of tea that I served in my outlet. That was such an amazing feeling!
What are the major challenges that you face?
I faced a lot of bureaucratic hurdles to obtain a license for Chaipatty and to set up the first outlet. It was not easy even while we started the second outlet. I feel this is one area in which Bangalore sorely disappoints me.
Then, there is the challenge of convincing new customers. People hesitate to pay INR40-50 for a cup of tea, as tea is considered to be something that anyone and everyone can make.
We do not charge any VAT or service tax at any of our outlets, and I think that is a pretty reasonable price for a cup of tea, specially as compared to the enormous amounts that cafes charge for a cup of coffee. In Chaipatty, it is more than just tea: we give our customers more of an experience and a sense of personal attachment with the place.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
To an aspiring entrepreneur, I would say that there is nothing like a ‘calculated risk’. You cannot possibly anticipate anything and everything that is going to come your way when you are about to start a business. You should have the ability to face risks, and take it as it comes. If your gut feeling about your venture is positive, go for it!
Do not over-discuss or under-discuss your venture with the people around you. Overly discussing a concept can twist matters out of shape, and being overly secretive about your venture is not a great idea either. Have a group of confidantes around you, with whom you can discuss your business comfortably and without danger of your idea being copied.
Do not forget to have a support system around you – your closest friends and relatives. The initial days can be hard for a start-up and this support system will tide you over your bad days and stand by you in your good days.
Once your start-up is up and running, you will need to incubate it like a baby. Be 100 percent invested in it, and take care of its every need. Be passionate about your business, and be anxious about running each and every operation in the best way possible.
Corporate Website: http://www.chaipatty.com/