Our focus is on perfect tea experience: Amit Dutta, Teamonk Global

The speciality tea market in India is small but growing at a brisk pace. Bangalore based Teamonk which recently raised Rs 6.5 crore from Inflection Point Ventures is planning to build a ‘Sourced in India’ specialty tea brand with a global footprint. Teamonk will strengthen its presence in global markets such as the US and also expand to newer ones including the UK and Canada. In an e-mail interview Amit Dutta, co-promoter, Teamonk Global and CEO at Hunch Ventures discusses the premium tea market in India, coping with the pandemic, venture investing and expansion plans. Edited excerpts:

TeaMonk recently raised Rs 6.5 crore from Inflection Point Ventures and others. Is Hunch Ventures also an investor? What will you be using the funds for?

Teamonk is backed by Inflection Point Ventures, Hunch Ventures, Roots Ventures and Lead Angels. Our latest pre-series round of Rs 6.5 crore was led by Inflection Point Ventures, an angel investment platform.

With the funds that we have raised, we are looking to further expand our reach in markets such as US, UK and Canada and focus on product innovation. We also plan on distribution innovation and will be launching a subscription-based platform in India to strengthen our presence in the home market.

Teamonk focusses on a niche category of specialty tea. How big is the market for this in India and how fast are you growing?

The global market for specialty teas is over $ 5.8 billion. In India, the market size is approximately $ 450 million growing at 30% CAGR. Teamonk’s proposition is of pure and natural tea, locally sourced with a variety of flavors. Our focus on the perfect tea experience also sets us apart.

What are your expansion plans for TeaMonk?

Teamonk’s vision is to build a `Sourced in India’ specialty tea brand with a global footprint. We will be strengthening our presence in global markets such as the US and also expanding to newer ones UK and Canada. With e-commerce as our pre-dominant distribution channel, we are able to deliver teas to the end consumer within a very short time.

What are the focus areas of Hunch Ventures? How big is the fund?

Hunch Ventures is a family fund; sector and stage agnostic, focused on sectors like lifestyle, retail, healthcare, F&B, technology, infrastructure, media and mining.

How has pandemic impacted investing and Teamonk’s business?

Global economic activity was adversely impacted as Covid-19 continued to spread, and this has, in turn, impacted the investment space. Investments are picking up for us now.

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of a strong immune system and driven consumers toward looking for healthier product options to improve overall wellness. During the pandemic, we have seen a marked increase in consumer preferences towards healthier beverages like green tea. We launched a range of green tea variants focused on immunity and wellness. This includes Kadha Green Tea (a mixture prepared with green tea, dried Tulsi, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper). Other innovations include Spice Green Tea & Ashwagandha Green Tea.

You are a founder, entrepreneur, investor and co-chair of the luxury vertical of CII. How do you manage your own portfolio of work and what synergies do you see if any in the multiple roles you play?

Each role that I have taken on has contributed in some way to the subsequent transitions that I have made. As an entrepreneur, I founded Luxury Hues Consulting, Quintessentially Lifestyle and Teamonk Global.

Later, I joined Hunch Ventures, which had invested in the latter two start-ups. Currently, in my role as managing partner of Hunch Ventures, I ascribe a lot of importance to sharing best practices and learnings across portfolio companies. A number of these ventures are in the lifestyle domain-Quintessentially Lifestyle, Blade India, Quorum Club, GoodTimes and vClusive. The learnings and consumer insights from these ventures help me contribute in my role as co-chair of the lifestyle vertical of CII.

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