Ushering in a new era of functional beverages, Rage instant coffee is the perfect mix of superior tasting coffee and plant based vitamins. Rage Coffee is one-of-its-kind coffee fortified with the highest quality nutrients such as LTheanine, Ginko Biloba, Panax Ginseng, Bacopa Monnieri, Rhodesea Rosea, L-Glutamine. Available through offline distributors in 350+ outlets in cities like Delhi NCR and Mumbai, the brand is available at Nature’s Basket, Ratandeep, Vijetha Stores, Dorabjees, Krishna Marche Super 37, Raj Mandir, Le Marche etc. The brand has also gained its popularity at E-Commerce portals like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal as well. In an exclusive interview, Bharat Sethi, Founder Rage Coffee shares further details about the start-up.
Tell us about entrepreneurial journey in India. What inspires you to launch Rage Coffee?
I’m a serial entrepreneur having built 2 successful businesses in the past. I started my first online business when I was 16 in 2006. The entrepreneurship bug hit me again, soon after I graduated from college and I started PosterGully in 2012, which was an online consumer brand for millennials to shop clothing, wall decor & affordable art. I bootstrapped the company with cost efficient metrics and profitability, building a well known brand within its target market reaching 15 Mn unique visitors in 2015. I exited the company in 2016 to the promoters of the ABEC group - which is India’s largest exhibition group.
In 2018, I started Swmabhan Commerce Private Limited that would focus on creating three to four digitally native vertical brands in large untapped markets in FMCG sector with a vision to create a Rs. 250 Cr ARR company by 2025
The idea of Rage Coffee began with a personal problem and a simple thought - How do I get great tasting coffee without spending a lot of time brewing one and also without spending a lot of money in cafes. It was largely a personal problem till I started talking to my network and found out a lot of people face the same problem.
Seeing the shift to coffee for many people around me, as their go-to beverage, I wanted the idea to mature and I started collecting data, doing surveys and quickly established a growing demand for this gap. Having built consumer brands & online marketplaces from scratch over the last 8 years, I obviously wanted to get more data, understand my audience more and that’s when started talking to shoppers in retail outlets.
And then when I looked at the stats and the global trends and the competition - it seemed like a space waiting for innovation to happen and in fact, a big blank white space in the Indian context with no single product catering to this demand.
So, all in all, it fell at the right intersection of a personal passion, my professional experience and a market gap
What is your assessment about hot beverage market in India. According to you, what are the factors propelling growth in segment.
I think it is a hugely underserved category in India with innovation just about starting to happen in the overall beverages space. Also, I think our generation is seeing a massive shift in taking care of their health and wellness and it has become an integral part of their. This is a mega trend and never before the world has seen such a focus on fitness and wellness before. I believe there are large untapped opportunities and customer segments in India in this category and there is space for a bunch of innovative & cutting edge brands to touch 400-500 Cr INR in annual sales in the next 10 years.
Kindly shed light on your current distribution in the online as well as offline space. Going forward, what are the plans to scale up the distribution?
We have an inherent direct to consumer (DTC) DNA. As a company, we become restless without data and without very close connections with our customers and regular feedback. I’m personally used to this approach and I think this is where the world is headed. So, our direct to consumer model advantage brings us closer to our consumers and gives us the data, insights and actionable analysis to build long term relationships with them. The idea is not to be ONLY direct to consumer distribution wise but to have DTC as an important distribution channel through which we make the right decisions. This forms a critical part of our overall strategy to scale faster than our competition. I can clearly foresee that the next generation of consumer giants will be digitally native.
Our products are available on ragecoffee.com and all leading marketplaces in India. We are also present in about 300 outlets in Delhi, Pune, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Hyderabad & Bangalore. We plan to touch 2000 outlets in the next 12 months which includes A+ GT, MT, HoReCa& other institutional buyers through distributors in all major Indian cities. We also have purchase orders from distributors in Europe & USA and we’re evaluating those offers at the moment.
Are you backed by any PE or VC? If yes then pls provide the details. Else, do you have any plans to raise funds?
We’re currently self funded and have raised a small cheque from RannvijaySingha who’s joined the company as an early investor and brand evangelist.
We wanted to reach certain milestones before we went out raising capital and now we’ve started to look at funding opportunities. We’ve had a phenomenal growth so far and are looking for investors who believe in the potential of the Indian DTC space.
According to you, what are the major challenges of the beverage market in India?
One of the big challenge is getting real time data or near real time data from offline retail outlets with a recency of even 2-3 weeks. A lot of leadership and management in the entire supply chain works in a traditional manner and that is frustrating sometimes.
kindly shed light on your target Group and pricing strategy?
24-35 year olds who’ve identified coffee as their go-to beverage is our core audience as we’ve seen. According to our understanding, the coffee demand in the next 10 years will be driven by growth in premium category and that is the category we’re focusing on in the consumer market.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans.
We’ll be at the forefront of innovation -be it the ingredients, formulations, manufacturing techniques, packaging, distribution, use of data and most importantly our connection with our consumers. Developing a great product is just a small part of the huge puzzle, in my opinion. Building a brand however, requires time, astute targeting, out of the box marketing, sharp distribution efforts and a lot of “x” factors that the people behind the scenes drive, which are implicit in nature. A brand is a mission and an identity, and almost a lifestyle choice that customers take. It is hugely challenging to alter such choices and that is our plan for growth. We want to embed Rage coffee into the daily lives of people.