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With ₹1 Lac, 24YO Starts Tea Cafe Chain, Clocks ₹4 Cr Revenue Annually

Starting with one business, Chaai Seth, in 2015, Delhi-based serial entrepreneur Arpit Raj ventured into multiple startups, building an empire for himself.  

By Bilal Khan
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Tea Cafe Chain - Chaai Seth Founder

Tea Cafe Chain - Chaai Seth Founder

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Delhi-based young entrepreneur Arpit Raj was deeply captivated by the opulent lifestyles of the wealthy. The cars they drove and the luxuries they enjoyed consumed his thoughts more than his school studies.

"I would often visit cyber cafes, paying Rs. 10 an hour to research car prices and ways to afford them. Eventually, I realized that entrepreneurship was the key to making money. However, I had no idea what kind of business I would pursue," recalls Arpit.

Arpit hails from a modest family in Bihar, where his father is a teacher. After completing his 12th grade in Muzaffarpur, he pursued a BBA in Hospitality Travel and Tourism in Shillong, Meghalaya.

Brewing Chaai Seth idea:  

It was in Shillong that his entrepreneurial journey began. Arpit and his friends faced a common challenge: the available food did not cater to their diverse tastes. They were often left hungry in the hostel without food access after 7 PM.

This need sparked an idea that would later evolve into Chaai Seth, a tea cafe, in 2015.

Arpit, during an exclusive conversation with Startup Pedia, recalls, "In a chilly place like Shillong, tea was always in demand, and Chaai was something that connected people." He was just 17-18 years old.

Pooling around Rs. 50,000 from their savings, Arpit and his friends opened a small tea outlet. However, the road was fraught with challenges.

Balancing studies while running a business, facing financial hurdles, and dealing with local opposition were daily occurrences. Despite these struggles, the support from fellow students and his college faculty kept them afloat for a few months.

The journey took a new turn when Arpit and Anoop ventured into selling coffee mugs. They bought mugs from a local store, created a website, and sold them at a profit. This experience taught Arpit valuable business lessons.

"We eventually made Rs. 20,000-25,000 in profits from these two businesses. It was decent money for us as college students, trying our hands at different ventures to learn the ins and outs of business," said the founder of Chaai Seth.

After completing his BBA degree in 2018, Arpit worked as a business consultant in the food industry, driving significant growth for the company he was with. His efforts brought in about Rs. 11-12 crores in revenue, showcasing his business acumen.

Everything seemed to be going well until, one day, he was asked to resign. "Since I was also working as an independent business consultant, I had a source of income running even after losing that job," said the young entrepreneur Arpit while talking to Startup Pedia.

Building multiple startups:

In 2019, Arpit (Age - 19), along with his friends Prateek and Premji, officially launched Chaai Seth. With an initial investment of Rs. 1 lakh, they did all the necessary licensing and set up their first outlet.

Arpit Raj at Chaai Seth Outlet

"The idea was to create a cafe where even families could come and enjoy tea with various snacks, experiencing the feeling of being a 'Seth' (rich man). That's why we named it Chaai (tea) Seth (rich man)," Arpit explained to the Startup Pedia.

The business model quickly expanded, opening outlets in Chennai, Nagpur, Uttarakhand, and Bihar. The brand was gaining momentum until the sudden hit of the COVID-19 pandemic brought numerous challenges.

"Out of 7-8 outlets, 6 closed down during the lockdown," Arpit told Startup Pedia. "It was difficult to hold on to ground-level workers and outlets, but we managed to keep the team together."

He was running out of money to hold his workers, but he managed to keep them by giving them sufficient salaries to run their houses.

Despite these setbacks, Chaai Seth persevered. They adapted their business model, adopted new strategies, and explored various ventures.

Chai Seth New Outlet Opening

Chaai Seth now operates on an autopilot model, with franchise managers handling daily operations. Arpit realized that relying on one business was not sustainable, so he ventured into multiple businesses under the umbrella of Wynswell Global Business Services Pvt. Ltd.

Currently, the 24-year-old young serial entrepreneur manages 17 businesses, including astrology, agriculture, and cloud kitchens, among others.

Franchise Models:

The company offers four franchise models:

Basic Model: Full investment of Rs. 4.5 lakhs, including a franchise fee of Rs. 1.5 lakhs plus taxes.

Takeaway Model: Investment of Rs. 6.5 lakhs, with a franchise fee of Rs. 2.5 lakhs.

Café Model: Investment ranges between Rs. 12-13 lakhs, with a franchise fee of Rs. 4 lakhs plus taxes.

Premium Model: Franchise fee is Rs. 5 lakhs plus taxes, with a complete setup costing around Rs. 6-7 lakhs.

Revenue growth of Chaai Seth:

Before the lockdown, Chaai Seth's outlets earned Rs. 60-65 lakhs in revenue in just six months. Last year, the tea cafe's revenue reached Rs. 4 crore, with a total turnover of over Rs. 65 crore from all ventures combined.

The brand continues to grow, aiming to enter new industries like clothing and jewellery soon.

Despite offers for private funding, Arpit chose to run his businesses bootstrapped, securing government-backed loans and bonds without giving away shares or equity in his startup. This decision has allowed him to maintain control and manage the company according to his vision.

Arpit Raj With Customers

"How life has changed from college to a job and now to running multiple businesses is incredible," Arpit reflects while talking to Startup Pedia. "I now know how to earn and tackle problems. I connect with my staff and interns, teaching them how to reinvest."

Despite his success, Arpit remains grounded. "I live a very normal lifestyle. Instead of focusing on lifestyle, I focus on making money to earn and not spend. I'm choosy about spending money and believe in making products, not just buying them," said Arpit during the conversation with Startup Pedia.

From a small tea outlet in Shillong to a multi-venture company with a revenue of over Rs 65 crore, Chaai Seth's journey is a story of brewing success, one business at a time.

"Start early while you have the strength to deal with it. Do not just read about entrepreneurship. Connect with good people, select your mentor, and learn what mistakes not to make," Arpit ends the conversation with Startup Pedia with this powerful advice for budding entrepreneurs. 

FAQ

What is Chaai Seth?
Chaai Seth is a tea cafe started by Arpit Raj and his friends in 2015. It began as a small tea outlet in Shillong and later expanded to multiple locations. The brand aims to provide a cafe experience where people can enjoy tea and snacks.
Who is the founder of Chaai Seth? 
Chaai Seth was started by Arpit Raj along with his friends. They pooled their savings to open a small tea outlet in Shillong in 2015, marking the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.
Who is Arpit Raj?
Arpit Raj is a Delhi-based young entrepreneur who has built multiple businesses with an annual revenue of Rs. 65 crore. He is the founder of Chaai Seth and other ventures under Winston Global Business Pvt. Ltd.
What has been the revenue growth of Chaai Seth?
Before the lockdown, Chaai Seth's outlets earned Rs. 60-65 lakhs in revenue in six months. Last year, the tea cafe's revenue reached Rs. 4 crore, contributing to a total turnover of over Rs. 65 crore from all ventures combined.