founder

Nepal Tea Collective Founder Nishchal Banskota Discusses Product Transparency

Introduction

There’s nothing better on a cold or rainy day than sitting down with a nice hot cup of tea. Something about it warms you to your core and makes your problems seem a little bit smaller. But have you ever stopped to wonder where the ingredients for that delicious steamy beverage came from?

Nepal Tea Collective is aiming to bridge the gap from farm to teacup. Each sachet features a QR code that drinkers can scan to find out where their tea was grown, down to the faces of the people who grew it. We spoke with founder and CEO Nishchal Banskota about the importance of transparency and the company’s plans for long-term growth.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

What inspired you to take the leap and start Nepal Tea Collective?

Nishchal Banskota

My family has been producing teas in Nepal for the past 40 years, and I understand the problem in the industry and how it has evolved firsthand. The tea industry is completely outdated and is in need of a drastic change. Despite tea being the most popular beverage in the world after water, the farmers who cultivate tea live in extreme poverty which is absolutely not fair. On the other hand, the consumers have been deprived of any and all information from the source and do not have access to fresh and high-quality tea. 

Furthermore, I have seen how this tea leaf can completely transform communities in the developing parts of the world and therefore, with my professional business degree and a passion for social impact, I leapt into action. I created Nepal Tea Collective to directly import and distribute the freshest teas directly from the farmers to the consumers while providing transparent and traceable information on each packet of tea. This bridged the ever-widening gap between the consumers and producers while eliminating all the unwarranted middlemen and creating value for both parties.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

Nishchal Banskota

With a scattered market along with a few significant players in the industry, the global tea market is valued at around $58.5 billion. One of the biggest differentiators in our business is the complete vertical integration of the supply chain with unmatched transparency and traceability from the leaf to the final cup. Every single packet of our tea packet has a QR code that can be scanned by any customer to trace their teas with all the information such as the production date, time, elevation, garden name, and even faces of the farmers. To take it one step further, we are planning to integrate the data on a blockchain ledger system to set an industry benchmark towards sustainable agriculture and transparency.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

What is your sales strategy?

Nishchal Banskota

We have a robust omnichannel sales strategy that comprises of both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) markets. We have strengthened our supply chain as a backbone to the business by working tirelessly to refine it for the past five years and building long-term industrial and wholesale customers. This not only creates a sustainable B2B model but provides us with economies of scale for our B2C model. 

On the B2C segment, we primarily sell through Amazon and our own website. Furthermore, we are developing virtual and in-person tea tasting and immersive tours services that add additional sources of revenue to the business. In the long run, we plan to invest in a state-of-the-art fulfillment facility in Nepal itself to leverage Amazon’s global logistics to sell internationally.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

What is your marketing strategy?

Nishchal Banskota

We have incorporated both online and offline marketing strategies to reach our target audience. We attended more than 20 trade shows and other tea/beverage related events to continuously generate leads for our B2B side of the business. 

For the B2C segment, we have our digital marketing strategy that encompasses paid advertising through Google and Meta, affiliate and influencer marketing, and partnerships with various subscription companies. We also conduct various pop-ups within New York City areas in collaboration with other companies and brands to acquire customers.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Nishchal Banskota

We plan to expand our product lines and invest heavily on product development. That includes cultivating different herbs/spices and formulating different tea blends. Furthermore, we also plan to use funds to grow our team and use funds for online marketing to acquire more customers.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for Nepal Tea Collective?

Nishchal Banskota

We plan to sell, merge, or get acquired by a larger but vision-aligned food and beverage company in the next six to seven years after we have perfected the supply and distribution model in one producer geography (i.e. Nepal). When we perfect the business model that can be replicated in other geographies, we will be highly appealing for acquisitions by multinational food/beverage companies. 

The ultimate vision for the company is to be able to create a global company that has multiple production and fulfillment centers in a developing country that is directly selling products to end consumers around the world with utmost level of transparency backed by technology.

We look forward to seeing where Nishchal and his team take the company. Nepal Tea Collective is currently raising on Wefunder.

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About: Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

Léa is passionate about impact investing and sustainability. Prior to KingsCrowd, she worked for Stanford’s accelerator, StartX, helping to select the most promising entrepreneurs. She also led the first award-winning study on the Malawian startup ecosystem. In her free-time, she volunteers to help entrepreneurs in Cameroon, Brazil and Colombia. Léa holds a degree in Anthropology from France and is currently enrolled in the UC Davis MBA program.

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