The Indian startup modernising a 200-year-old industry

 

Teabox sends fresh tea leaves straight from estates to customers anywhere in the world within days

The British drink more than 60 billion cups of tea every year, and it is the second most-consumed drink in the world, after water. Yet the industry has seen little innovation in how the humble tea leaf makes it from the plant to the cup, sometimes many thousands of miles away. Kaushal Dugar, is changing all that.

“The process of getting it to the customer from the tea estate has not changed in nearly 200 years, going back to the days of the British,” says Dugar, who grew up in Darjeeling, a region known for producing India’s champagne of teas. After a corporate career in Singapore, he returned to his roots to help modernise an antiquated industry, steeped in colonial history and its archaic methods.

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Teabox, based in the West Bengal city of Siliguri, with a satellite office in Bangalore, fuses tea and tech. The sleek, modern, whitewashed walls of its Siliguri headquarters are more Silicon Valley, than colonial British. In this newly remodelled space, opened in 2016, Dugar and his 95 employees are putting the $7 million (£5.4 million) raised from investors such as Accel Partners, Ratan Tata, and Texan billionaire Robert Bass to work.

Read the full story at Wired.co.uk

 

 

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Three Friends Turn Plastic Waste Into A New Retail Brand

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Three friends started a company, Nomadix, based on one product — a towel made of recycled plastic. Three years in, they’re in REI, Urban Outfitters, and over 100 boutiques, surf shops, and yoga studios. And their approach to growth is, ironically, slow down.

Chace Petersen, Zack Helminiak, and Hunter Robinson are accidental business partners. After years of camping, surfing, and having an outdoor lifestyle together, the trio realized that there was increasing plastic waste in the ocean, and trash littered at their favorite surf spots. Eliminating all the waste would be too hard, so they decided to hone in on single-use plastic water bottles, Helminiak says.

“Plastic pollution is a major problem for oceans and wildlife, which Nomadix and our customers seek to protect.”

Nomadix was born out of necessity, he says. The founders travel regularly, having visited about three dozen countries collectively and towels, they realized were either too niche or made of rubbish quality. 

Read the full story on Forbes.com.

How Chris Burkard Built A Creative Company Based On His Photography

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Chris Burkard is not your average creative entrepreneur.  The 31-year-old who is known for his epic surfing photographs, often in the coldest corners of the world, has a massive Instagram following of nearly 3 million, but still argues that he is a hustler.

His photographs have been featured in Toyota, American Airlines, Apple and Sony campaigns, to name a few of his clients. This summer he’s taking a personal project on the road — a short film called Under An Arctic Sky.  Filmed in Iceland with majestic shots of the Northern Lights, the 40-minute film features Burkard and his crew surfing off the Iceland coast.

Though he has a massive online following, his entrepreneurial journey is lesser known to his fans. Over a decade ago, at 19, Burkard decided that he would be a surf photographer. He was going to forgo college to pursue this seemingly niche career. “Is that a real job title? My parents didn’t believe me when I told them either,” he jokes in a phone interview from his New York City screening of Under the Arctic Sky.

Read the full story at Forbes.com

(All Photos Courtesy of Chris Burkard Studio)

Why This Outdoor Brand Is Hiring Individuals With Disabilities

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When it comes to the bottom line, mission-driven companies consider the 3 P’s: planet, people, and profit. While the first ‘p,’ planet, with a focus on producing more eco-friendly products has taken off, the second ‘p,’ people, can sometimes get lost.

That’s why Toad & Co CEO Gordon Seabury developed several programs to employ and support individuals with developmental or physical disabilities. “I thought we could lead in sustainable business practices but realized pretty quickly there were other larger outdoor brands already focused there. Our leadership role [would be] to introduce a social mission to the industry. No one was focused on the People part of Planet, People, Profit.”

The Santa Barbara-based outdoor brand uses a packing warehouse in Chicago where they employ 4 individuals with developmental disabilities. Twenty years ago, when Toad & Co started the program, Seabury was inspired by Ben & Jerry’s. At the time, the iconic ice cream company had a bakery in Brooklyn that made cookies and brownies for their ice cream. The employees were recently released inmates and the program was focused on providing meaningful work training to reduce recidivism. Ben & Jerry’s had partnered with Search, Inc. to identify the employees.

“As far as I know, we were one of the first for profit/ not-for-profit joint ventures of its kind in the developmentally disabled community,” Seabury says.

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Read the full story at Forbes.com

Women-Led Trekking Company Challenges Social Norms In Nepal

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In Nepal, a social enterprise is employing a for-profit and nonprofit hybrid model to finance the country’s first and only women-led trekking agency. 

Note, Nepal is ranked as one of the worst countries to be a female, and sits on the bottom of the Human Development Index, which measures for quality of life and the chance to improve one’s socio-economic status. Hence, to have a women-centric business, financed and led by women, is no small feat.

In the 1990s, three sisters, Lucky, Dicky and Nicy, from Darjeeling, India relocated to Pokhara in Nepal to start a guesthouse for visitors.  Quickly they learned that only Nepalese men were taking foreigners into the Himalayas on treks.  This posed a challenge for female travelers — and even some allegations of abuse surfaced. So the trio started Three Sisters Adventure Trekking where women would lead other women on treks in Nepal.

Instead of just running a business that pairs up foreigners with female Nepali guides, they also set up a non-profit called Empowering Women of Nepal, or EWN. The non-profit provides six months of free training to Nepali women interested in learning about mountaineering and the outdoors. To date more than 2,000 women from around the country have done the training program and many have continued on to become guides for the for-profit trekking business.

“Whether or not these women go on to become a guide, we feel it is a seed planted for them and future generations. We demonstrate that women are mentally, physically and emotionally as strong as men,” Lucky says.

Read the full story on Forbes.com.

How This Mom Is Using Her Business To Transform The Food Culture in Alberta

Karen Anderson is changing the image of Calgary from “cowtown” to one of Canada’s finest food cities. The self-proclaimed “momtrepreneur” started Alberta Food Tours, after having established a friend circle of farmers, chefs, and foodies.  Last year, she organized 169 tours for more than 1000 guests. She’s found a niche and a business in promoting sustainable agriculture through tourism.

“I could see that more and more people were traveling with the intent of trying local cuisines, and exploring the food culture of a city,” she says, driving down one of Calgary’s main throughways, the Macleod Trail. “But Calgary never had a reputation as being a foodie city, like Vancouver. So how could we change that?”

Read the full story at Forbes.

Does Patagonia have the answer for narrowing the gender wage gap?

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The debate around fairer pay for women feels more prominent and urgent than ever. Yet, despite this momentum, new estimates suggest the gender pay gap won’t be closed anytime soon. A new report from the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take up to 170 years for the world’s women to earn wages that are equitable to men’s.

While that’s the global picture, things aren’t much better at home in the US. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in 2015, female full-time employees earned about $0.79 for every dollar made by full-time male employees. For minorities, the data is even more disparaging: African American women earn $0.64, Native American women earn $0.59 and Latinas earn $0.54.

Read the full story at Guardian.