India: Specialty tea brand Teamonk Global looking to raise $5m

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Homegrown specialty tea brand Teamonk Global is looking to raise $5 million from investors as it looks to scale up its portfolio of premium teas and reach out to new geographies, co-founders of the company said.

Teamonk Global, founded by Ashok Mittal and Amit Dutta in 2016, sells premium specialty tea sourced from the Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu and Darjeeling in West Bengal. The founders have decades of experience in the tea business with global consumer goods firm Unilever.

“We are in discussions for raising $5 million, which we will use for increasing the shop in shop sales channel, to build a subscription model and expand to overseas markets,” Dutta, a co-founder and director at Teamonk Global, said in an interview. The company expects to raise the funds in the next three months, he added.

The tea brand last raised half a million dollars from angel investors in 2016.

Teamonk’s vision is to create a specialty tea brand both for the Indian and the overseas markets in an omnichannel format, Dutta said.

Teamonk sells its teas through its own website and other partner sites such as Amazon India and BigBasket, as well as through kiosks in premium retail stores such as Godrej Nature’s Basket and in corporate gifting. The company also sells its teas in the US through Amazon.com.

The company is targeting the growing trend of health and wellness among customers. “You see the shift happening from other beverages to tea, as people are becoming more conscious of health and wellness. So, looking good and feeling good are emerging as a key driver in choice of number of food products. And obviously, tea with its history of antioxidants has been a favourite,” said Dutta.

He said the company used to earlier sell its teas as black, white, green or oolong on its website, but it has reoriented the categories to reflect the way in which customers ask for tea, such as detox, weight loss and glow.

The company plans to use the capital it would raise to expand beyond its current markets of Bengaluru and Delhi NCR through its shop-in-shop channel.

“We are going to grow aggressively the shop-in-shop model, having tested that model over the last several months. We have 10 shop-in-shops rights now and over next one year we want to take that to 200 and across the top eight cities in the country,” said Ashok Mittal, co-founder and chief executive of Teamonk Global.

Mittal added that the company will also use the capital for expanding its tea sourcing from the Nilgiris, where it currently has a tie-up with a single, dedicated tea processing plant.

“Now that our volumes are growing we are looking at expanding the factory and we are also looking at increasing our supplier base from one factory, most likely to five factories in that region,” said Mittal.

Teamonk is also looking at new innovative ways of reaching out to customers and plans to build a subscription model for selling its teas.

“Through tie up with some banks we are targeting customers owning premium, high end credit cards. This will give its customers special offers on Teamonk Global. This gives us automatic reach to a very captive affluent customer base and now using the same base we are looking to create something on the lines of the Wine Society of India in creating our own tea subscription model,” said Dutta.

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This article was first published on Livemint.com