2 May 2018, 09:34 — 5 min read
Tea is the drink of choice for many Indians. Its history takes us back to the British Empire. Suresh Nanjan’s tea estate, Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms Pvt Ltd, is located in Coonoor - a major tea producing region in South India. After his sister, Vijayalakshmi, passed away under tragic circumstances, Suresh and his brother decided to devote their time to realising their sister’s vision - to create a world-class tea estate that benefits the farmers, the community, and the society in the Nilgiri region. Today, they have completed the process of organic conversion using bio-dynamic processes and are producing organic high grade teas. Their signature tea is the Teaneer Aristocrat.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Suresh Nanjan (SN) shares his commitment to producing quality teas and following sustainable practices.
GL: Tell us about your business.
SN: The business is built around our sister’s vision for creating a sustainable community around tea farming. We work with high grade teas. Earlier, Nilgiri tea was known only for producing low grade CTC teas. Other major regions like Darjeeling, which has an exalted status for its quality of tea, have correctly identified that quality tea is what sustains the industry in the long run. Due to this quality consciousness, they are able to demand a steady price - always balancing the demand and supply equation. On researching this, we figured that most farmers don’t even know what happens to the raw leaves once they have been sold to the bigger tea factories.
Once we realised our sister’s vision of sustainable living for the tea farmers, we extended this as a community effort thereby facilitating other enterprising women in the neighbourhood. With our efforts we would like to provide a stepping stone for other entrepreneurs.
Marketing was done through word of mouth and during the initial days we were just happy to give away samples for people to use. I had sent our samples to many food bloggers in Bengaluru and across India. The initial customers were mainly my close friends. After our initial efforts we were comfortably getting repeat orders from about 100 customers. I also tried to reach out to people in several business and startup forums like OCC Bangalore and TIE Bangalore. I was able to network with a lot of members to spread the word about our products
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
SN: Coming from a non-business background, we faced challenges related forming the company and going about our everyday operations. With no prior experience, attempting to create a disruptive product line with premium pricing from a region not at all known for high quality teas was a daunting task. It took a long time for us to break the myth that Nilgiri region can only produce low grade teas.
GL: How did you hear of GlobalLinker? How has it helped you?
SN: I came to know about the platform via email newsletters we received. I have published an article on tea, sharing my expertise on the platform, which garnered a good viewership and response. GlobalLinker is a wonderful platform to share insights and connect with other business owners.
GL: What is your big business dream?
SN: We are planning to set up a very ambitious community farming project across five regions in the Nilgiris, producing diverse set of unique locally adapted agriculture and value-added product lines and well aligned farm tourism concepts adapted to each location. By this project we are trying to create a strong sense of community.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
SN: My message to aspiring entrepreneurs would be a quote from famous American author Napoleon Hill. He wrote, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”.
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Images courtesy: Tealet
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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