As part of our persistent efforts here in VictoryTales to identify and share some of the meaningful stories from India and around the world, we have invited Mrs. & Mr. Ranjit Baruah for an interview with us. Mr. Ranjit Baruah, Founder of AROMICA TEA with his vast experience of working in Mcleod Russel India Limited, the largest tea company in the country for the last 20 years in various management capacities started his venture with the motive to help small tea growers to find a good market and a remunerative price for the tea they grow and offer something beautiful to the tea lovers across the world.
Mr. Ranjit was supported by his wife Ms. Dolly Sharma Baruah, Co-Founder and started AROMICA TEA in the year Nov 2018 with 05(five) basic tea blends and gradually started developing many specialty tea blends each having its own health benefits. Presently AROMICA TEA has about 26 blends of tea with its own unique taste and flavor. All teas are based on authentic Assam Teas and produced by the marginalized Small Tea growers.
This beautiful couple has created many tea blends using natural ingredients which are traditionally known to have health beneficial properties i.e., Mint, Tulsi, lemongrass, Ginger, Black pepper, Rose, Hibiscus, etc. According to Mr. Ranjit, the BLUE TEA (a blend of superfine organic green tea and Butterfly pea flower and some Indian herbs and spices) and the BHUT JOLOKIA TEA (a blend of Assam Black Dheki tea and Ghost pepper, ginger, and lemon powder), are the unique tea blends of their brand.
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AROMICA TEA inherits 20 years of experience in tea plantation and manufacture accumulated by founder Mr. Ranjit Baruah, a tea planter by profession. from different Organic tea gardens in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh supporting the local producers to get a good value and a steady market for their produce. Infusing our long experience in the tea and blended under expert eyes, teas are handcrafted with passion and love to provide you the perfect blend of Green Tea rich in aroma, flavor, and taste have also introduced Blooming Green tea for the first time in the region. Experience the exotic floral display and enjoy the aroma and fragrance of the Blooming green tea.
Where did the idea to start something like this come from? Please also talk us through your background and your journey as an entrepreneur;
I was working in Mcleod Russel India Limited, the largest tea company in the country for the last 20 years in various management capacities. Having worked in various tea estate across Assam and due to my posting in different places of Assam, I have come across many small tea growers who were producing fantastic teas in their small units but having difficulty in finding the right market for their produce. AROMICA TEA was started with the motive of helping these small tea growers to find a good market and a remunerative price for the teas and offer something beautiful to the tea lovers across the world.
I had done my graduation from Cotton College in B.Sc( Anthropology) and thereafter completed my Hotel Management course from IHM, Guwahati, and worked for a few years in the hotel industry. In 1999 I got an opportunity to join Williamson Magor Tea Ltd. Joining as a Management Trainee rose up to the ranks of Dy.Manager in my career spanning about 20 years. I got to learn of Tea manufacturing, production, and Tea Tasting while at the job and my deployment in the tea gardens and factory. I have also done a course on ENTREPRENEURSHIP from IIM, Rohtak and this has helped me in learning the intricacies of the business.
I started AROMICA TEA in Nov 2018 with 5 basic tea blends and gradually started developing many specialty tea blends each having its own health benefits. Presently we have about 26 blends of tea with its own unique taste and flavor. We forayed into the Wellness Tea segment and all the tea blends carry intrinsic health benefits. The basic idea was to promote health through a cup of tea.
My wife Dolly Sharma Baruah joined me as the Co-Founder. The firm was registered as a Pvt.Limited Company with 5 Directors which included Dr.Utpaljeet Baruah (by elder brother), Ranju Rekha Sharma Baruah (my sister-in-law )( both law professionals), and Kakolee B.Bordoloi (my sister) who has 14 years experience in the tea industry.
In 2019, the CEO of a reputed Wellness aggregator firm from Mumbai Get A Life Fitness ( GALF), Mr.Amit Vasistha appreciating our endeavor forged an alliance with us to promote corporate wellness
Following this, the Founder Director of Tea Coffee Association ( TCA) Mumbai Mr.Pramod Wakode also associated with us to promote the small tea vendors and growers.
In Feb 2020, we were selected by Assam Start-Up as an incubatee and in March 2020 we were selected by IIM Calcutta Innovation Park as an incubatee making us the first tea company in the country to be incubated by any IIM.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship over a job?
Being an entrepreneur gives you more freedom to think and work as per your own conditions. I can give shape to a product and create a market for my own. Greater independence and a zeal to support the Small Tea Growers is what inspired me to be an entrepreneur. Jobs had its own limitations and scope of doing things.
How do you find the industry/niche that you’re in?
Tea is a competitive market and I was well aware of it before planning to become an entrepreneur. So the first step was to create blends that would be beneficial to health, good to taste and provide wellness in totality. We embarked on a journey that was not frequently trodden but held good promise. Wellness is a promising sector and we created Tea blends that cater to wellness in totality. All our teas by means of value addition were created to promote wellness. It was difficult initially as we had to compete with a minimum of 52 tea blends that were already in existence at any point in time but with time, we have been able to create a niche market for our teas and the sales are slow and steady. Encouragingly, the sales have been throughout the country and to overseas markets also. We have been able to get a very good response in social media and word of mouth which has helped us a lot.
What gets you out of bed in the morning i.e. what’s your source of motivation?
Very interesting query! The zeal to create something new and provide to the tea lovers keeps me going and trying newer blends. With the health and wellness segment opening up like never before post the advent of COVID 19, we have been trying Immunity boosting tea blends and offering to our patrons.
What challenges/obstacles did you face in your journey so far?
The main challenge is product placement and letting customers know about our products. It’s not an easy task given that many reputed brands are already in the market. People find it difficult to switch over to a new brand. However, we have been successful to create our own client base and they have been encouragingly patronizing our products.
Secondly is arranging the funds to produce, promote, and market the teas. As these are wellness teas, a lot of expenditure goes to R & D and certifications.
Also, there is a constant challenge of creating newer domestic markets for the teas and exploring the export market. Brand promotion entails a huge expenditure and for a new Start-Up and funds are a constant challenge.
Tell us about the uniqueness of your startup, please;
All our teas are based on authentic Assam Teas and produced by the marginalized Small Tea growers. We create tea blends using natural ingredients that are traditionally known to have health beneficial properties. Examples are Mint, Tulsi, lemongrass, Ginger, Black pepper, Rose, Hibiscus, etc. We have been able to create some unique tea blends which include the BLUE TEA and the BHUT JOLOKIA TEA.
The BLUE TEA is a blend of superfine organic green tea and Butterfly pea flower and some Indian herbs and spices.
The BHUT JOLOKIA TEA is the only one of its kind in the world. It is a blend of Assam Black Dheki tea and Bhut Jolokia ( Ghost pepper), ginger, and lemon powder.
(“Dheki” is a wooden foot mortar used to crush the rice. “Dheki” tea is a handcrafted black tea which is made by crushing the green tea leaves in the Dheki)
The uniqueness of our startup is the UNIQUENESS of the tea blends we have created.
How do you handle the pressure and manage stress?
Reading journals, newspapers and successful entrepreneurial stories boosts me up and helps to relieve my stress. Also, my time with my 3 kids is a great source of energy for me. ( They are aged between 6 months - 6 years)
What is one strategy that you believe has helped you grow as a person/startup?
“Never give up” has been my motto. The entrepreneurial journey is full of uncertainty but the never give up attitude helps me to pivot out a solution from every hurdle. I believe in a saying ‘There is always a way out’. A sincere focus with an honest intention and the motivation to uplift the marginalized small farmers has helped me to grow into a better person. At the end of the day, the smiles that my effort brings on the faces of these people boost me up and motivates me to do better. Besides these, we strongly believe in Women empowerment and 80 % of our employees are women. They are a force behind my journey. After all, they have all the patience in the world to carefully do the blending and create our teas out of passion and love.
In your opinion what are the keys to success?
There is no fixed formula for success but there are certain things that go a long way in helping to fulfill your dreams. The first thing is a strong belief in yourself and your idea. This has to be backed by a strong passion to give shape to your dreams. It works wonders and definitely helps.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as an aspiring entrepreneur?
One thing that has helped me and I would like to share that if you have an idea go for it. There will be many hurdles and not many will encourage you. But a strong determination and a single focus will help one to come out successfully. Nothing happens overnight but the taste of success is very sweet.