“Be diligent about what you do, execute it, measure the results, find the deviations, and improve it.” – Bhupinder Madaan’s advice as a formula for becoming a successful business model.
Bhupinder Madaan is the founder of Theka Coffee. The coffee manufacturing firm provides its customers with 100% fresh Arabica coffee beans, regarded as one of the best and most affordable coffee seeds in the Indian market. Moreover, Theka Coffee serves coffee in a beer bottle placed in a bucket of dry ice available at a reasonable price.
In this interview with Business Upside, Bhupinder Madaan describes his entrepreneurship journey with Theka Coffee’s venture. Also, he shares various other aspects such as business concept, mission, current business model, marketing strategies, recruitments, and generating new ideas.
Edited Excerpts from the Interview
Business Upside [BU]: How did you get your idea or concept for the current business model?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: My first venture in life while I was in school was in the food category, and since then, I have been watching this space quite carefully. Noticing the rise of coffee culture in Ahmedabad and India, I realised a lot of them are inspired by Italian coffee culture. More than that, the quality of the coffee wasn’t up to par. The ones offering quality were out of reach from many people’s pockets, while the others used substandard premix powdered coffee. I wanted to solve all these problems. Coffee has a rich history in India, and still, everything seems so foreign. This is how Theka was born. It’s beyond your everyday cafe coffee glasses. It is served in a beer bottle, with names that connect the brand beyond the air-conditioned fancy cafes that you see at every nook and corner now. And it obviously doesn’t end at branding; the coffee is made from single estate 100% fresh Arabica coffee beans, which are considered to be among the best, at a price that is relatively reasonable and affordable to its counterparts. And did I tell you, it is all cold brew? This again helps us create a niche in a super cluttered market of coffee in India.
The current business model of serving in a bottle-shaped cart rather than a full-fledged cafe is a pandemic learning. By 2020, Jan, we were in 10+ cities with fully functioning cafes, but the fixed cost amid the pandemic killed us. Our product was loved by our customers but creating and sustaining a cafe model is a different ball game. So we decided to minimize our fixed cost factors as much as possible. This is how the cart came into the picture. This is a win-win for both our franchise partners and us since it allows us to pop in several locations easily with relatively less cost than a cafe. We are looking at more distribution models, but it is purely strategy-based, and the way the market has reacted in what it looks like a post-pandemic world.
Business Upside [BU]: What was your mission at the outset?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: Since I started from a cart, not the one you saw on Shark Tank, I wanted to test my hypothesis of the problems and boredom of the coffee industry. When I started to sell more and more, I realised that there was a demand, so my next goal was to improve and add more products to the offerings. When that worked, my mission shifted to making this a PAN India brand which persists at the moment.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you market your business, and which method has been most successful?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: We are a very Snapchat and Instagram-friendly product. The sight of chilled coffee in beer bottles served in a bucket with dry ice became one of the significant marketing factors for us. Beyond that, our name, being in a dry state, also gave us the credibility of a “cool” brand. The quality of coffee at competitive prices also gave us a strong word-of-mouth approach. And finally, our customers who acted as ambassadors of our brand on social media gave us a lot of earned media.
From paid media POV, it helped us create a spike in our business. I wouldn’t say anyone of it has been most successful; instead, the combined efforts of all played the best for us.
Business Upside [BU]: What is unique about your business?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: The uniqueness of Theka can be attributed to different stakeholders. For our customers, it is a new way of consuming coffee with an assurance of 100% Arabica beans from a single estate.
For our franchise partners, it is the ease of setting it up and accessing it. The hub and spoke model is used by many other companies but with us; it gets a bit easier purely because of the less consumption of square feet.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you generate new ideas?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: This includes a lot of interaction with people in my industry and beyond to understand their problems and connect the dots, if possible. Along with that, there are a lot of observations. The mere observation of the consumption of coffee in India helped me create Theka. And to this date, I keep on doing this to improve the products, processes, and our team.
And finally, I do a lot of brainstorming solely and with my team. This helps me to not only come up with new ideas but eliminate the not relevant ones and pick the best ones. Coffee Ki Jawani and Palantod indeed had other competitors in the naming department. Still, considering it from different angles, its viability, acceptance, and analysis helped us lock these two and more such names for our products.
Business Upside [BU]: If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting, what would it be??
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: Just start. That would be my most important advice. If you are already looking, you have found some sort of problem to solve, created a product or service to offer, or decided to put your skin in the game. Overthinking it will only hold you back from doing it. And as you go along, from your successes and failures, the latter being more frequent in my experience, you will figure your way out or at least understand what you lack or own.
It is okay to be nervous; you are venturing into an unknown, but not doing or getting into it would only continue to make you anxious.
Business Upside [BU]: What do you look for in an employee?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: For someone to join my team, I would look for them to be street smart, confident, and aligned with the vision, and most importantly, the ability to take ownership of the work. Being a super young business on the verge of scaling big, having these qualities would make our processes and function easier.
Business Upside [BU]: Do you believe there is some sort of formula or pattern to becoming a successful business model?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: From my experience, there is not. You have to set up processes or create a system. But where and how you have to do it, you will have to figure out as you go along based on the problems you face.
Not to sound preachy, but not giving up and continuing every day with your passion surely helps create a successful business. Be diligent about what you do, execute it, measure the results, find the deviations, and improve. This can be one formula that you can look at, but this is just how we evolve and improve. It doesn’t matter if it is a business or an individual.
Business Upside [BU]: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: I don’t think there is one. There are many; every small goal for me has been satisfying. For instance, my goal was to make a good pitch on Shark Tank, and I did. Getting funded would have been icing on the cake, but that wasn’t my only objective; it would have resulted from the pitch. Talking about the recent journey, my satisfying moment is to pitch for various partnerships to pave the way for such collaborations; the result again is something not as essential for me as letting the word out.
Business Upside [BU]: What motivates you to become an Entrepreneur?
Bhupinder Madaan [BM]: The joy of pursuing my passion while being my boss motivates me to be an entrepreneur. Sure, it is a tough road, and we had to break many shackles, along with the failures we faced. For instance, we had to shut down all 10+ locations due to pandemics, while I had to sell my car to pay off the debts was surely one of the lowest points in my journey. However, I was persistent, and then Shark Tank happened. It is still not a win yet, but it is undoubtedly exciting at this point; we are funded now. There are both highs and lows in the journey, but at the end of the day, I am following my passion with complete autonomy and accountability to myself. And it sure is motivating for me to pursue entrepreneurship.
My Company URL: https://thekacoffee.com/
My LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bhupinder-madaan-5986a427/
My Designation: भयंकर Chilled Founder