Today we celebrate two milestones at TeaFit
We go live on bigbasket.com Bangalore ( ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರ ) and in BB Instant vending Machines in Bangalore. It’s a big moment in this little company’s journey. Thank you to everyone at Big Basket ( and there are a lot of you :)) - one of the most professional orgs we have engaged with - everyone from the warehouse team to the purchase team to management - the people were a revelation ❤️
But that’s not the only milestone we celebrate today. Every bootstrapped startup faces life/death moment at least a few times in their journey. Ours was last year to this day - August 19. I was en route Indore for production, when I received a call from Shark Tank India to come for audition. But production days are planned weeks in advance. They refused to reschedule, I took a hard call (with great sadness) to continue as per schedule.
Production wrapped up, everything went as per the SOP - freshly brewed teas, beautiful bottles packed to be shipped to our warehouse in Mumbai. 2 days later when we received these 40,000 bottles - We spotted sedimentation at the bottom. Like clumps of herbs and large tea leaves in the bottle. Our collective hearts sank. We opened boxes upon boxes and 80% them with the same issue.
How could this be? What are we going to do? How can we ship this? Why didn’t we see it while bottling? We don’t have the money to brew a follow up batch so soon.
I told my people not to worry - we will figure something out. Then I proceeded to go home and cry like a little baby. I consider myself the proverbial tough cookie but everything came together in a perfect storm and I let go.
For couple of days, I was blank. We had POs sitting and I was clueless. Spoke to my mentor and now a dear friend Amitabh Goyal. He brushed it off, matter of factly - you are in manufacturing, things will go wrong. Take the hit and move on.
Finally gathered some courage, asked the team to investigate, was informed that the filter gave way somewhere in the middle and the tea leaves and herbs made their way in the final drink. It wasn’t immediately visible because agitation/ mixing happens at very high speeds . But once the beverage settles, you can see sediments.
I was informed this is the risk with using real ingredients as opposed to premixes and essences. But we were committed to brewing natural beverages so instead of selling ourselves short, we put five different filters of increasingly finer mesh to prevent breakage.
The cardinal rule of bootstrapping is the business should pay for its inventory. But that wasn’t the option, borrowed money from friends, pleaded with retailers to give extensions on PO and made another batch 2 weeks later. Crystal Clear and all batches since then have been❤️
Thrilled to still be in business!
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger is a clichè - but like most cliches, it is the truth!
Hang in there, you are gonna be okay!