FOOD AND BEVERAGE TRAILBLAZERS PODCAST EPISODE 18

PODCAST: Defying tradition – Teamonk CEO on challenging India’s tea norms and his journey from PepsiCo to entrepreneurship

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

In this episode of our Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast we speak to Nalin Sood, CEO of Indian tea specialist firm Teamonk.
In this episode of our Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast we speak to Nalin Sood, CEO of Indian tea specialist firm Teamonk.

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In this episode of our Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast we speak to Nalin Sood, CEO of Indian tea specialist firm Teamonk about defying traditional procurement norms and his experience moving from beverage MNC PepsiCo to a start-up.

Teamonk differentitates itself from traditional tea firms by not only retailing completely via e-commerce​ and carrying over 70 tea SKUs via this model, but also having ‘broken out from the mould’ in the tea industry and opting not to procure tea from the country’s famous tea auction.

“The auction only takes place a few times a year, and getting the tea from the auction and then waiting for blending and processing all to take place means it could take up to 40 weeks for the tea to reach consumers – we wanted to break away from that,”​ Sood told FoodNavigator-Asia.

“The only way to do this was to make sure we weren’t dependent on either the auction or blending processes, so we have opted to work directly with selected plantations – many of which dedicate portions of their plantation exclusively for us.

“This enables us to get the teas on-demand, which enables us to provide consumers with fresh teas in a much shorter time, about three to four weeks  – something that would be very hard to do if we followed the traditional tea auction system, where getting a consistent quality of tea to consumers would be much harder.”

Prior to Teamonk, Sood has held multiple positions in multi-national firms, such as SC Johnson South Asia Chief Marketing Officer and PepsiCo Executive Vice President for Foods in India – comparing those experiences with his current entrepreneurial leadership role, he believes that uncertainty is the most prominent difference yet also a similarity.

“Basically, being in a start-up means that safety net is no longer there and it’s a constant tightrope walk between pursuing aggressive growth and maintaining cashflow whilst searching for investments so there’s a lot of uncertainty involved,”​ he said.

“In an MNC like PepsiCo, there is that backing of a big name there which ensures many doors will open more easily for you – but at the same time it also means that any ideas you surface can take anywhere from months to years to finally reach the right person and for anything to get started. There’s also no certainty about the idea going through once that happens – so in that sense there’s also a lot of uncertainty involved.”

Listen to the podcast above to find out more.

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