Mumbai-based entrepreneur and founder of homegrown beverage brand TeaFit, Jyoti Bharadwaj, took her sons Arastu and Agastya Priyedarshi to address her pitch in Shark Tank India Season 2. In this reality television show, aspiring entrepreneurs from different corners of the country pitch their business models to a panel of investors and persuade them to invest money in their idea. This year's Shark Tank India judges include - boAt's Aman Gupta, Shaadi.Com's Anupam Mittal, Sugar Cosmetics' Vineeta Singh, Encure's Namita Thapar, Lenskart's Peyush Bansal, and CarDekho Group's Amit Jain. Bharadwaj hit a six when her sons opened the pitch presentation for her. She managed to crack a deal for her startup for an investment of Rs 50 lakhs for 8% of equity at a valuation of Rs 6.5 crores.
Founded in 2021, TeaFit is a zero-sugar beverage. Post the Shark Tank fame, the brand has already accelerated its product launches and distribution strategies. In conversation with Storyboard18, Bharadwaj shares lessons picked from Shark Tank, what’s next for the brand, and more.
Why did you decide to go with your pitch on Shark Tank?
We are a consumer-facing brand. We are also a bootstrapped company. Our challenge has been brand discovery, inducing trials, building credibility around the brand, and reaching to wider regions without having the financial muscle to amp this up. We thought a show like Shark Tank, which has a mass audience, can help us create an overnight jump in the areas where we needed support. Of course, getting the right kind of investment was also a key reason to do it. However, the focus was to take TeaFit nationally. Also, if you get the backing from any of the Sharks that brings in a ton of credibility to brands like ours.
What does being on a reality show like Shark Tank do to businesses like TeaFit?
A platform like Shark Tank gives immense opportunities for brands at my life stage, which has just hit the shelves but there isn’t enough awareness built around it. Since the episode went live, I have traveled quite a bit. A lot of people, especially women, came to chat with me. It would have taken years for me to reach at this level. For brands like ours, it’s a shot in the arm to appear in a show like Shark Tank.
Post your appearance in the show, how has it helped you as an entrepreneur and your brand?
As an entrepreneur, it has taught me that if you stay in the game for long, seminal moments like this will come and change the course of your trajectory in ways you didn’t imagine. It could be making small progress every day. But it will propel you into a different stratosphere whenever pivotal moments come in your journey. When you are factoring in and creating your business plans you think of things that are predictable and variables that are under control, but that’s not always the case. In a sense, opportunities like this just instill the fact that miracles do happen.
Any tips for young and emerging brands who want to be a part of a show like Shark Tank?
If you are a consumer brand, you should give it a shot. You should have a solid story about what you are building. A lot of times entrepreneurs get carried away with the how(s) of everyday things of business and don’t focus on the why(s). These are self-contemplated questions that you need to chew on and then bounce off to your team. Keep your story simple. That’s about it.
Do you consider this opportunity the biggest marketing lift for TeaFit?
I absolutely without a shed of a doubt agree with that. Let me give you an example, I was recently in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, and people knew about my brand and me. If I had to do this by myself, I would have needed years of perseverance and spending, along with a deeper distribution network.
What's next for brand TeaFit?
We are committed to making beverages that are rooted in Indian ingredients and heritage. We are formally launching the unsweetened pre-mixes that took us nine months to put together. It was a difficult product line to develop in the absence of sugar. In most pre-mixes, there is 60% of sugar. Once you remove that, adding volume was a challenge. A lot of science went in there and a lot of alterations happened along the way. We are scaling up distribution wise too. We also exploring export opportunities. However, we want to grow sustainably in our phase.