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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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.

This Finnish Entrepreneur And Chocolatier Wants Food Businesses To Be Accountable For Public Health

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Jukka Peltola worked in the gaming industry before launching a food brand. He was busy developing games at Rovio, the powerhouse that created Angry Birds. He had no experience in food nor a co-founder who was steeped in the food business. But he decided to switch gears, leaving behind his gaming days for a chocolate factory. Why such a dramatic career shift?

More companies need to focus on trust and quality ingredients that are good for consumers, not just bottom line economics, he says. Health, not disease is the premise of Goodio, which produces health-conscious snacks and treats, namely raw chocolate bars.

“I was looking at food labels and had a question: “What if there was a food brand you could trust?” he recalls in an phone interview from his Helsinki offices. “It felt a bit crazy, at least for the people around me, since I don’t have an entrepreneurship background in the food business.  But personally I didn’t care, I just had a passion and I thought it might be my advantage to see things outside the box to make the change I felt was so important.”

In 2011, he began tinkering with chocolate. “I rarely ate chocolate because I was interested in sports and keeping fit. I thought it wasn’t good for you. Turns out it can be.” 

As a health food enthusiast, Peltola researched the benefits of cacao — an ingredient that is often overlooked as being gluttonous, not nutritious. Though chocolate sales fetched $98 billion in 2015, they were primarily for the sugary candy type.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

YouTuber Niomi Smart Builds An Online Career And A Startup On Wellness and Conscious Living

This YouTuber has amassed 1.6 million subscribers by building a lifestyle that’s balanced, empathetic, and wellness-driven. On a platform that sells quantity over quality, Niomi Smart’s unique brand is as much about giving back as it is about herself.

This month, she released her first book, Eat Smart, a guide to eating well and being fit. Within minutes of the announcement, the book climbed the ranks, becoming #1 on Amazon. (Though it’s only available in the UK and select countries currently).

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Photo Courtesy of Harper Collins UK.

The 24-year-old Brighton-born author tests natural beauty products, shares healthful recipes, runs for charity, and endorses causes on her YouTube channel.  Her most recent video highlighted StandUp Cancer, a UK-based charity, working on cancer research and prevention.  More than just a photo op, Smart’s involvement is seemingly genuine and stems from life experience.  When a friend passed away from skin cancer, Smart was shocked and saddened; she transformed her routine, plunging into a plant-based lifestyle and putting her health first after a few indulgent years at university, snacking on cakes and biscuits.
Read the full story at Forbes.com.

Food and Politics: Why This American Entrepreneur Wants To See A Conflict Zone Aisle at Whole Foods

Amit Hooda wants to see a conflict zone area in Whole Foods. No, it’s not a playground for adults to break out in food fights. Rather, it’s an aisle devoted to food companies, sourcing from conflict areas of the world — a way for refugees, and victims of political conflict to earn a living while providing nuts, seeds, grains and more. In Hooda’s case, it’s all about honey.

Heavenly Organics procures honey from wild hives in Northern and Central India and the Himalayan region. Photo Courtesy of Subject.

The Iowa-based entrepreneur and co-founder of Heavenly Organics grew up in India in the 1980s, an era filled with stories of Maoist violence throughout the country. Naxalites ate up the headlines back in those days, Hooda recalls. Families were told to keep their girls inside the home, protect them from being harassed or kidnapped. “Yet, why were these men engaging in violence? They were incentivized to create violence in villages and towns across the country. You made money by robbing people because someone stuck a gun in your hand and told you to do,” he says in a phone interview.

While India’s history of Maoist uprisings is contentious and long-standing, Hooda was less interested in playing policymaker, and more so in learning about the root cause of such politically-charged violence: poverty, and lack of jobs or opportunities.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

How This Coffee Entrepreneur Is Overcoming Hurdles To Build A Mission-Driven Company

Around the world, coffee shops have become meeting points for “urban tribes,” creative types, freelancers, and pour-over junkies. In India, though, running a coffee business is still a tricky pursuit, riddled with challenges.

Blue Tokai, which I reported on last year in Delhi, was trying to bring that global coffee culture to India by freshly roasting beans, sourcing from single estate farms, offering organic varieties, and educating north Indians on Aeropress, Chemex, and French Press brewing techniques– a new language for a region that lives on chai and instant coffee.

Since their mail order business took off, Blue Tokai founders, Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana, opened a cafe in South Delhi last year.  The approach to the coffee shop is a bit tricky, especially for non-locals: down a few alleyways, off the main road, Blue Tokai sits in a village within the city.

 

Read the full story at Forbes.com

Can a Chef From One the World’s Best Restaurants Fix School Lunches?

At 28, Daniel Giusti had the most coveted job in the culinary world: He was the head chef at Copenhagen’s Noma, one of the world’s best restaurants.

Late last year, he left that post. Now, instead of cooking meals priced at $300 a person, he has shifted his attention to concocting public school lunches for less than $3. Giusti left Denmark to start his own venture, Brigaid, a company that aims to bring chefs into American school kitchens.

“Let’s be real. There’s no 18-year-old in culinary school that’s saying, ‘I want to go into school food,’ ” he said jokingly in a phone interview from New York. “But I’m at that point in my life where I just don’t care anymore. It may seem crazy. But I’m ready for a challenge.”

His company would employ chefs, but they would work in school kitchens alongside existing staff as third-party purveyors of sorts. His aim is not to eliminate those who are already employed in food service in schools.

“We would go in, take on that staff, which consists of six or seven generally. But also employ a chef or bump up a food service manager who could take on that responsibility,” he said.

Read the rest at TakePart.com.