Entrepreneur: Ruhani Sandhu
Business Name: Rangsaa Tea
Welcome to #eoindia #startupstories Episode 32 – Ruhani Sandhu.
Each week we will ask an Indian entrepreneur 11 questions so that we can all be inspired by their stories.
Tea is a drink that is synonymous with India. But have you discovered the joy of drinking high quality, pure luxury tea in its natural state? Today we speak to an entrepreneur who is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of luxurious high-quality tea.
Ruhani Sandhu’s passion for high quality tea led her to found a boutique luxury tea company – Rangsaa. Rangsaa is the labour of love of Ruhani, who began her romance with tea at an engineering school in the US. Much of it has to do with her Chinese roommate who took her to tea ceremonies across New York. By the time she moved back to India, she was dreaming about tea.
In 2012, she partnered with her school friend and designed a unique tea menu for his start-up concept tea cafe called ‘Chaayos’. This was her first ‘break’ in tea, an opportunity to experiment on such a large scale.
The simplicity and spirituality associated with tea intrigued her to the extent that she decided to quit her job and started her blog ‘Love for Tea’ which soon became popular among tea lovers with over 15,000 readers across 150 countries today.
Within no time, she embarked on her own venture – Rangsaa, a premium tea brand that derives its name from the words ‘rang’ and ‘saa’; rang means ‘color’ in Hindi and ‘saa’ means tea in Assamese respectively, blending to form ‘colorful tea’.
Let’s discover more about her journey to create Rangsaa and what this journey has taught Ruhani along the way.
Welcome to EOIndia#startupstories, episode 32.
How did you get your idea for this business?
Newness begins with a departure from the old thinking.
In India more than 98% people are typical milk tea consumers and are not aware of premium tea leaves, and the health benefits associated with high grade tea. Although people are switching to green tea because of its health benefits, they are not drinking the right tea. Not many know that the benefits we read about tea are actually based on the standard tea leaf grade and not tea bags/flavored teas. With a vision to build the best-tea-blends-in-the-world, that are locally inspired and globally desired, we set off to create the unique tea experience – a healthy drink that encourages people to look at tea differently and touches their lives through a healthy and memorable encounter. This amalgamation of ideas gave birth to new possibilities. It created Rangsaa.
Crafting blends that are pure unadulterated power, multi-versatile and can easily transform into delicious fitness drinks, healthy cocktails and even used in cooking is Rangsaa’s innovative step in escaping from our fixed ideas about tea.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
Climate change and modern lifestyles have taken a toll on our physical and mental health. Diseases like diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure are increasingly common among people, including the youngest. In Delhi, the national capital of India, there are already serious concerns surrounding the dangerously high levels of toxicity in the air.
Global stats and trends point out that people (in the age group 17-55 yrs) are getting more health concious and switching to tea for a healthy substitute. The rise of farm-to-table trend has also brought awareness and has made people concious about clean eating and drinking, where they prefer to avoid artificial flavors, chemicals, colors, aerated sugary drinks and adapt to natural substitutes. The premium tea demand is on a rise, considering 4 out of 5 coffee drinkers are now switching to tea and there is 6% rise in demand of premium tea in the domestic market.
Rangsaa blends are a moment of bliss and are formulated keeping in mind the hectic lifestyle of modern tea drinkers – connecting people, including kids, to the power of plants, bridging the gap between dietary health supplements and good-tasting superior tea… for an enriching mindful experience .
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
My husband has been very supportive since the beginning and I believe nothing would have been possible without his encouragement and partnership in the business. My parents have been concerned but I’ve got them hooked onto Rangsaa tea now, I share our customer reviews, progress with them and I see their faith and confidence growing.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
My biggest mistake probably was.. I didn’t think of this before. When I was in US, I was all focussed on my studies, later work and tea was always a part of my life. But I never looked at it as a full time job or my future. It’s been a really long journey and for long I tried doing everything by myself, without a team and it did effect my peace of mind and time management.
Getting out of my shell, building a valuable team, networking, sharing my purpose with people and reaching out for help, gave me opportunities that I was 100% excited about. I have learnt the importance of good team and working with specialists. By creating a culture of accountability, I am more efficient and productive at doing my work.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
We work for the development of small tea growers, local farmers, and native communities and tribes. We plan to expand our network of farmers, work with Center for Education and Communication (CEC) to help the small tea growers and meet their essential demands. We have to make our energy blends popular and introduce people to luxury tea handmade by farmers across India.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
Winning my mornings with tea meditation. This quiet me-time gives me the pause I need and takes me beyond the everyday noise. It’s a ritual that helps to declutter my mind, plan my day ahead and keeps me going no matter what. There’s bit of a science behind it. Besides that, I love to workout, fuel with tea all day, try to stay positive, get things done and work on building relationships. I consider myself a purist and don’t watch tv. I watch comedy, documentaries and movies to unwind and reboot.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I know my consumers are tea concious and appreciate quality, they value the mindful tea experience that high-altitude superior tea offers. Tea culture abroad is way more advance and mature, compared to domestic tea scenario in india. If I had to do it all over again, I will definitely create more networking channels besides our website, develop a Rangsaa app to reach out to wider tea consumers, develop newer audience and bring joy to more people.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“It’s OK if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.” – Colette Werden
9) Where do you find inspiration?
The Indian tea industry still suffers from a colonial hangover and is where it was 200 years ago. There are great things coming and we are proud to fuel the change.
Although it all started with just an idea, Rangsaa has grown into a global tea movement. I often look back to where it all started, realizing what we have all built together and it motivates me, and inspires me to do more.
10) What is your favourite book?
I highly recommend ‘The Tea Book” by Linda Gaylard. Whether you are a tea connoissuer, purist or a newbie, this book will make you curious about advance tea drinking culture. My other recommendation is ‘80/20 Sales and Marketing’ by Perry Marshall. It’s a fantastic book.
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Breathe, practice morning tea meditation to reprogram your thoughts, eat and drink healthy, get stronger, stay calm, don’t obsess over imagined fears, reach beyond and roll with the punches. Build something special that you are insanely passionate about. You have to have the passion and the drive to stay on course.
A huge thanks to Ruhani for taking the time to be interviewed by Entrepreneurs of India. We trust that we will all be inspired by her story
At EOI our main takeaway from this interview is the importance of building a team. You may go fast working by yourself – but you will never go far. If you want to succeed then you must BUILD YOUR TEAM
Also don’t forget to check out Ruhani’s blog Love For Teas.
Of course the next time you look for some luxuriant tea experience, Rangsaa is the place to go.
As usual, don’t forget to check out the recommended reading below. They come recommended for a reason!