Interview: Mr Bhupinder Madaan, Entrepreneur & Founder of Theka Coffee

Bhupinder Madaan

Interview with Mr Bhupinder Madaan, Founder of Theka Coffee

Bhupinder Madaan, a teenage entrepreneur, has harbored a deep passion for the food and beverage industry. Equipped with over 15 years of combined entrepreneurial experience, he embarked on a mission to revolutionize India’s coffee industry.

Dissatisfied with the monotonous offerings found in cafes across the country, Bhupinder sought to establish an authentic Indian coffee brand that would bring exceptional coffee to every corner, making it accessible to all.

Thus, he founded Theka Coffee, a venture dedicated to providing the finest coffees at highly competitive prices.

Driven by his vision, Bhupinder set out to disrupt the status quo and introduce a remarkable range of coffee options to the Indian market.

Theka Coffee represents a departure from the ordinary, offering a truly authentic Indian coffee experience.

With meticulous attention to detail and an unwavering commitment to quality, Bhupinder ensures that each cup of coffee produced by Theka Coffee exceeds expectations.

One of the primary objectives of Theka Coffee is to make high-quality coffee available to everyone, regardless of their location or background.

By focusing on affordability without compromising on taste, Theka Coffee breaks down barriers and ensures that even the most remote corners of the country can enjoy the finest brews.

Bhupinder’s dedication to providing accessibility, combined with his entrepreneurial acumen, has enabled Theka Coffee to carve a niche in the market.

The success of Theka Coffee lies in its ability to deliver exceptional coffee experiences to a wide range of consumers.

Through strategic sourcing of premium coffee beans and employing innovative brewing techniques, Bhupinder has created a brand that resonates with coffee enthusiasts throughout India.

Theka Coffee has become synonymous with excellence, offering an enticing range of flavors and blends that captivate the senses.

As Theka Coffee continues to expand its reach, Bhupinder remains steadfast in his commitment to delivering a remarkable coffee experience.

He understands that the key to success lies not only in exceptional taste but also in fostering a culture of inclusivity and affordability.

By democratizing access to quality coffee, Bhupinder aims to spark a coffee revolution that permeates every nook and corner of the nation.

The inspiring journey of Bhupinder and his brainchild, Theka Coffee, serves as a testament to the power of passion, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit.

As he disrupts the coffee industry in India, Bhupinder’s dedication to authenticity, accessibility, and competitive pricing sets a new benchmark for the coffee business.

Theka Coffee stands as a shining example of a brand that not only satisfies the cravings of coffee connoisseurs but also uplifts communities and brings people together through the love of a good cup of coffee.

Entrepreneurial Journey

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Theka Coffee’s pre-existing 14 outlets were forced to shut down due to the pandemic-imposed financial constraints. However, Bhupinder refused to give up on the brand, despite being sceptical of its success trajectory.

So, he started again from scratch after the first wave of the pandemic subsided, buying a cart, and parking it in Sindhubhavan Marg, Ahmedabad, from where, he began selling coffee again.

Although the business struggled during the different waves of COVID-19, Bhupinder managed to sell coffee worth Rs 2,000 – 3,000 daily for three months.

Thus, he decided to organically expand his coffee chain by placing four carts in different locations in Ahmedabad, whilst trying to hold off on the capital investments.

Bhupinder has always had an ideology of not treating failure as something negative. Failures according to him weren’t elements to be afraid of, instead, they were to be used as life lessons to learn from and mark them as milestones in an entrepreneur’s journey.

Celebrating failures has led this founder to always live on a high and never look down upon the lows which is exactly why Theka Coffee as a brand has never been demoralised, despite so many external resistances that it has faced during its journey.

The biggest break for Theka Coffee came when it was selected for Shark Tank India in January 2022. With a valuation of just 5 crores, Bhupinder and his team pitched their business idea to some of the most experienced investors in the country.

Despite their impressive pitch, they did not get investment from the Sharks. However, they did not lose hope and kept working hard to achieve their dream.

The rejection from the Sharks did not stop the brand’s growth. Instead, it motivated Bhupinder to work harder to make Theka Coffee a successful venture.

Soon after the Shark Tank episode was aired, Theka’s sales skyrocketed. They were sold out at almost all their selling points.

The brand later adopted the franchise model and started selling franchises from a tiny 5X5 feet office where Bhupinder, accompanied by his co-founder Abhishek Acharya and his Business Development head Animesh Khare would answer over 1000 franchise enquiry calls every day.

The success story of Theka Coffee did not end there. The brand received investment from a venture capitalist firm, Zenith Multi Trading, which believed in its potential.

This deal opened doors for further investments and in just six months, the brand’s valuation touched a staggering 100 crores.

With this investment, Theka Coffee expanded its operations across the country and became a disruptor in the coffee industry.

And then, down the line, companies like the retail giant, Reliance, approached Theka Coffee with many more lucrative offers.

Hence, from a tiny office to a, now, fully fledged headquarters in Ahmedabad and franchisees in 40+ cities, Theka Coffee has been maintaining its track record of achieving greater goals every day and has clocked over 16 crore worth of turnover in the last financial year.

And, given that Theka Coffee thrives on growth, it has set a goal for attaining a turnover of 100 crores in the near future.

Tell us a little about your company

Bhupinder Madaan: Theka Coffee is a passion project that specializes in serving freshly brewed coffee products with a very desi vibe.

We are extremely confident about our craft, along with unparalleled dedication towards it, which is evident in every bottle of coffee we serve.

We deeply believe in doing what we love, for the fun of it, so that it cascades towards our customers, facilitating the flow of happy, positive vibes and playfulness from us to them.

We take pride in being humble about the journey and remaining true to our ideals, never moulding them according to anyone else’s ideologies.

Our Gabru mascot is an integral part of Theka Coffee’s brand value, representing our commitment to the brand’s fun, playful, and positive atmosphere, consequently, resulting in a unique approach to coffee, which sets us apart from other coffee retailers.

We believe in creating an environment where people want to willingly work, without any resistance, thus, resulting in a cohesive and highly motivated workforce.

We aim to inspire our employees to perform their best and ensure that they feel valued and appreciated. Our company is not just about making money; it’s about creating an experience that leaves our customers with a smile on their faces.

Everyone working at Theka, be it the founder or the employees, all of us here, work with a mindset that enables us not just to work for the brand but to live it.

Alongside all of the positivity, we also take pride in our humble approach to success. Theka Coffee has extreme confidence in what it does, be it in terms of our products, services, or the entire business model that we have been able to demarcate as a differentiator in the market.

We, as a company, have unstoppable ambition and drive, which is exactly what has gotten us to build this entire company from scratch.

What service(s) or product(s) do you offer at Theka Coffee?

Bhupinder Madaan: We offer freshly brewed cold brew coffee made from the most premium ingredients. Our signature coffees include a light roast coffee called ‘Coffee Ki Jawaani’, a medium roast coffee called ‘Next Level’, and a dark roast coffee named ‘Palang Tod’.

We also have 4 flavoured coffees; ‘Nut-Khatt’ is hazelnut flavoured, ‘Popcorn Pataka’ is popcorn flavoured, ‘Desi Santra’ is orange flavoured and ‘Minto Rani’ is mint flavoured coffee.

Besides this, Theka Coffee also offers Chocolate Patola and Berry Piya, chocolate and strawberry-flavoured milkshake, respectively.

What is your mission and vision at the outset?

Bhupinder Madaan: The mission of Theka Coffee is to ensure that we are able to serve freshly brewed coffees at an affordable price firstly, on a pan-India basis, and then go global.

We are the first ones to make sure that we are selling fresh coffees and fresh products in a hub and spoke business model via which, we want to change the way business models are conventionally perceived to work in the food industry.

The brand’s vision is to make sure that we change the workings of the franchising system in India. In India, franchisees are unsuccessful and often make marginal profits or shut down.

We want to build a franchisee model which is profitable, sustainable, successful, and franchisee oriented so that Indian brands can also go global in the future with effective and efficient operations.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

Bhupinder Madaan: Theka Coffee is a company that takes a unique approach to failures. Rather than seeing setbacks as negative experiences, we view them as milestones on the journey to success.

We firmly believe that failures do not push us down, but rather serve as motivation to work harder and achieve our goals.

This mindset is what allowed us to continue pushing forward, even after we were not able to secure an investment on Shark Tank.

Rather than being discouraged by our experience on the show, we chose to work even harder and secured better deals.

This dedication paid off, as we were able to grow the business from 5 crores to a 100 crore valuation company.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic did not hold us back, as we survived the crisis and emerged as a bigger brand with a presence in many cities.

Theka Coffee’s approach to failure, perseverance, and resilience is a valuable lesson for anyone who is looking to start or grow their own business.

It shows that with hard work, dedication, and a positive mindset, anything is possible. The company’s journey is a testament to the power of determination and the importance of having a clear vision for success.

What was the inspiration behind turning an entrepreneur or Startup

Bhupinder Madaan: My journey from selling pamphlets to owning a successful coffee brand, Theka Coffee, is nothing short of inspiring.

This entrepreneur, who hails from Ahmedabad, began my business journey at the age of 14 by selling pamphlets in his hometown.

This gig earned him Rs 200 a day for two hours of work after school. I had enrolled as an external student in my high school, which allowed me to appear for exams without attending classes.

It was during this time that I spotted Momo stalls in every corner of Delhi while visiting my other home in the city. Ahmedabad, however, had yet to catch on to the trend.

I saw a gap in the market and decided to start a momo stall in my hometown when I was only 15. In just two years, I expanded to three stalls, catering to a growing demand for street food.

During this time, I was also approached by a company canteen committee to introduce North Indian food, which I did through a breakfast service called ‘Happy Hours’.

I continued to run my momo stalls and Happy Hours simultaneously, earning between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 a day.

Despite being successful in my businesses, I dropped out of college and took up a freelance gig for an IT company on the business development side and also worked with an app development firm.

These experiences led me to realize that I was a skilled salesperson, which I would later apply to my future business ventures.

In January 2017, I decided to quit everything else and focus on researching the food and beverage industry.

My inspiration came from a chance visit to a bar in Delhi. This gave me the idea to sell coffee in a beer bottle, which I started doing under the brand name Theka Coffee in September 2017.

Over the next two and a half years, I expanded Theka through a franchise model and opened 14 cafes.

The brand’s unique selling point was its packaging; coffee served in beer bottles. It was an instant hit among coffee lovers, especially millennials who were drawn to its hip and trendy packaging.

Your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs and startups

Bhupinder Madaan: Starting a new venture can be daunting, but the satisfaction of seeing it grow and succeed makes it all worthwhile.

First, avoid method entrepreneurship. This means copying a successful model or business idea from somewhere else without any innovation or creativity.

While it might seem like a safe bet, it’s a surefire way to blend in with the competition and not stand out in the market.

Instead, focus on what unique value you can bring to the table and use that as the basis for your business.

For instance, Bhupinder does not restrict himself to the use of laptops and Ipads, instead, he uses his table as a writing pad for brainstorming ideas.

The founder’s office is filled with mind maps and sticky notes, facilitating the free flow of ideas. Formals are not mandatory, the founder himself had pitched his idea on Shark Tank wearing an unconventionally quirky shirt.

Therefore, the brand and its work ethic negates the conventional and stereotypical focus on structure, while, instead, focusing on creativity, quirk, innovation, and flexibility, thus standing out in the market.

Secondly, standing out from the crowd is crucial. This can be done by offering something that your competitors don’t have.

It can be a product or service that uniquely solves a particular problem, a new business model, or even a fresh marketing strategy. The key is to find something that sets your business apart and makes it more attractive to customers.

Thirdly, grab the opportunity. Successful entrepreneurs can spot opportunities and seize them. This means being aware of market trends, customer needs, and gaps in the industry.

Take calculated risks and don’t be afraid to experiment. Failure is a part of the process, but learning from it and adapting is what sets successful entrepreneurs apart.

Fourthly, create an atmosphere where people willingly want to work. A company culture that values creativity, innovation, and teamwork is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. A motivated and dedicated team is essential to the success of any business.

Finally, maintain a positive mindset. Starting a new business can be challenging and stressful, but it’s important to stay optimistic and focused on your goals.

Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in your vision and are willing to help you achieve it. Stay committed, persistent, and learn from every experience, whether good or bad.

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