Home30Under50 2023The Entrepreneur Brewing Change in the Tea Industry: Decoding Rajeev Baid’s Journey

The Entrepreneur Brewing Change in the Tea Industry: Decoding Rajeev Baid’s Journey

Chai Chun, the brainchild of Rajeev Baid, sets itself apart as a boutique-style tea store offering an extensive array of over 165 blends sourced from premium Indian estates. Entrepreneurs Today spoke with Baid to understand more about his operational strategies and industry success.

Starting as a railway tea hawker, Baid now leads as Managing Director at Chai Chun, Okayti, and Evergreen Tea Group. His boutique-style store has an array of premium Indian tea blends, showcasing a deep appreciation for India’s tea-drinking traditions. 

Much like how Chai Chun stands out for offering tea aficionados an immersive journey through a diverse array of flavors and aromas, Okayti has also gained a foothold as a game changer in the tea business. Their commitment to authenticity and profound recognition of tea’s cultural importance craft a distinctive space, setting them apart from competitors.

Finding inspiration

Rajeev Baid’s inspiration for entering the tea industry is a result of his cherished childhood recollections, where tea held a pivotal place in his family’s traditions. He reveals, 

“This love for tea culminated in my becoming a tea vendor at Kishanganj railway station at the tender age of 13. As I honed my understanding of the tea market, I ventured into Bihar’s first tea factory, Apex Tea Pvt. Ltd., where my commitment and marketing prowess led me to a partnership and eventual ownership. This marked the initiation of my entrepreneurial journey.”

Challenges faced

Establishing a foothold in the fiercely competitive tea industry presented Rajeev Baid with significant hurdles, primarily financial limitations and the need to establish credibility. 

Transitioning from selling teas to eventually leasing a tea factory and founding Chai Chun demanded perseverance, strategic acumen, and a profound belief in tea’s ability to go beyond cultural and culinary boundaries. Baid navigated these challenges through strategic thinking and a profound grasp of market dynamics.

Celebrating feats

The substantial expansion of Chai Chun into an enterprise and the strategic acquisition of OKAYTI,  game changer in the tea business venerable tea estate in Darjeeling (Mirik), founded in 1888, stand as pivotal milestones in his journey. Reflecting on his achievements, Rajeev also adds, 

“Through my endeavors, I have effectively bridged the gap between heritage and innovation, showcasing a deep commitment to preserving the rich cultural heritage associated with tea while fostering innovation within the industry. This approach has not only propelled my businesses to great heights but has also solidified their role as esteemed custodians of India’s tea heritage, resonating with enthusiasts and aficionados across the nation and beyond.”

Plans ahead

Currently, Rajeev is is committed to fostering local employment opportunities and promoting tea tourism in Darjeeling, aiming to shape the region’s socio-economic fabric. His holistic vision revolves around elevating Darjeeling tea’s global standing while prioritizing sustainable growth.

With a glint of hope for a promising tomorrow for all, he expresses,

“I am also committed to creating substantial employment opportunities specifically for tea pluckers in Darjeeling. I believe in empowering these individuals by providing them with dignified work and fair compensation. Their crucial role in the tea industry is central to my vision, as I strive to uplift their livelihoods while bolstering the local economy through sustainable practices.”

Lessons learned

One of the lessons Rajeev has learned in his journey is to prioritize passion and not compromise on quality. Building a resilient brand involves market diversity, customer focus, and community engagement. He acknowledges, 

“Building a resilient brand requires exploring diverse markets, prioritizing customer satisfaction, and making meaningful contributions to the community and environment.”

He also believes that continuous innovation, avoiding complacency, and realizing dreams are vital for lasting success. 

Note from the founder: 

Success lies in a delicate blend of determination, strategic acumen, and a profound connection with the product and its cultural significance.

Snigdha Basu
Snigdha Basu
A multifaceted writer, Snigdha Basu is a freelancer and a columnist at Entrepreneurs Today. She also spearheads Chic Life Edition - her own Digital Magazine with sustainable fashion, beauty, and culture at its core. Reach out to Snigdha at [email protected] for inquiries.
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