How Theka Coffee Became The King of Cold Brew in India
You’re not a true coffee lover if you haven’t heard of “Theka Coffee”. India’s only cold brew ready-to-serve coffee brand that serves premium coffee with a twist. Theka Coffee also appeared on Shark Tank India, and the sharks were so impressed by the product that they forgot to give Theka Coffee a deal.
Sharks were super impressed by the branding, product, and Bhupinder’s (Founder of Theka Coffee) entrepreneurial spirit. However, a complex supply chain and a sophisticated business model made the sharks sceptical about the ₹50 Lakh ask.
And while most companies would’ve plunged into the abyss after a Shark Tank rejection, Theka Coffee did quite the opposite by securing funds from a Dubai-based VC firm (more about this later) at a ₹100 crore valuation.
This case study sheds light on how Bhupinder Madaan and his “cold-brewed coffee in a beer bottle” idea took over the Indian Coffee space.
What is the Origin of Theka Coffee?
Bhupinder’s entrepreneurial journey began at the age of 14 when he started earning money by selling pamphlets after school in Ahmedabad.
As he moved through high school, Bhupinder had a different approach to education, focusing on exams and allowing his curiosity to lead him beyond the classroom. During his visits to Delhi, he noticed how Delhiites love momo stalls and recognized a gap in the food market back in Ahmedabad. This observation became the spark for his entrepreneurial journey.
At the age of 15, Bhupinder launched a momo stall in Ahmedabad that became an instant success with the locals. However, his ingenuity didn’t stop at momos; in response to a committee’s suggestion, he introduced “Happy Hours” at his stall, offering breakfast parathas alongside momos.
His journey continued through various roles, including as a freelance business developer with an IT firm. These experiences sharpened his sales skills, laying the foundation for his future ventures.
In January 2017, Bhupinder took a pivotal step, when he decided to focus entirely on understanding the food and beverage sector. His inspiration struck during a visit to a bar in Delhi, where he conceived the idea of selling coffee in beer bottles.
In September later that year, armed with his idea and a car, Bhupinder launched Theka Coffee and started selling coffee on the streets of Ahmedabad. The unique concept of serving coffee in beer bottles, combined with his passion and determination, set Theka Coffee on a trajectory of growth.
From a young boy selling pamphlets to the visionary founder of Theka Coffee, his story underscores how curiosity and an entrepreneurial spirit can turn a simple idea into an innovative business.
What is Special About Theka Coffee?
There are a lot of ways you can brew coffee, and one of them is cold brew. Theka uses cold-brewed coffee for its bottled drinks because it is smoother, needs less sweetener, and has more caffeine.
Moreover, Theka Coffee has a unique flavour owing to the freshly sourced Arabica coffee beans that are roasted 2-3 hours prior to being brewed. Anyone who knows a thing or two about coffee beans knows that Arabica is one of the best quality coffee beans one can source and has a strong flavour.
Besides the freshly sourced and cold-brewed coffee, Theka Coffee’s branding makes it an eye candy for customers compelling them to click a snap and flex it on social media. It’s not every day you see your favourite caffeinated beverage served in a beer bottle with quirky names like “Coffee Ki Jawani” and “Palang Tod”.
Bhupinder had this to say about the unique names when asked about it in an interview:
“...these are actually the names that I used to use in my local language and life. So ‘Next Level’ is something that I still use all the time like “you are such a next level person”, and “what a next level business you have created!” All these are actually the words that I use in my life. But then we connected it with our coffee.”
The brand is pretty confident and bold when it comes to creativity and that reflects in its branding and marketing efforts.
The major differentiator (at least from where we stand) is the price. You can grab a bottle of Theka Coffee for ₹99. Competitors in this space charge ₹400 or more for the same coffee in a paper cup.
Moreover, the brand employs a sustainable approach with a focus on social responsibility. They source their coffee beans ethically, ensuring fair pay and proper treatment for the farmers. Not to mention their “tree for coffee” program that allows customers to donate a tree for rural India in exchange for a free coffee.
How Theka Coffee Went From 0 To ₹100 Crore Valuation in 2 Years
From the vibrant streets of Ahmedabad emerged Theka Coffee—a tale of passion, innovation, and resilience. Bhupinder’s journey began in 2017, selling coffee from his car on Sindhubhavan Marg.
Theka’s menu wasn’t just a list of beverages; it was a canvas of flavours, each cup telling a unique story. From Palangtod’s boldness to Coffee ki Jawani’s light-hearted charm, Theka’s offerings resonated with patrons and set the brand apart. This creativity, coupled with a promise of “freshly brewed premium coffee at an affordable price,” became Theka’s distinctive identity—a promise that kept customers coming back for more.
Theka did astonishingly well in its first year with ₹1.2 Cr in revenue and the business scaled at an unwavering pace adopting a franchise model, spreading across 14 outlets clocking a revenue of ₹1.8 Cr in its second year.
The high capital and operational expenses, coupled with the unprecedented blow dealt by COVID-19, threatened to undo all that had been achieved. Theka’s cafes had to close, and a key partner departed, leaving Bhupinder at a crossroads. Theka Coffee finally shut its store during the pandemic.
“The initial months of lockdown meant zero business but I had to keep paying Rs 1.25 lakh of rent for our spaces in the malls… I had burnt all my savings and had to sell my car as well,” – Bhupinder Madaan
However, Bhupinder relaunched the brand post-pandemic and returned to his roots with a Theka Kiosk on Sindhubhavan Marg, selling hope sip by sip. The brand eventually started to get back on track with 4 Kiosks placed strategically across Ahmedabad.
The turning point arrived with an opportunity on Shark Tank. Though investment eluded him, the fame garnered opened new doors. Theka’s story, once confined to the streets, now reached a wider audience—one that resonated with the spirit of persistence and unyielding faith.
After Shark Tank, Theka Coffee secured ₹2.5 Crore in funding from Dubai-based Zenith Multi Trading at a valuation of ₹100 crore.
What Does a Theka Coffee Franchise Cost?
You can set up a Theka Coffee franchise with an investment of Rs 15 Lakhs, and considering the feedback from existing franchise owners and the ROI as reported on their website, this doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all. The brand is likely eyeing expansion post receiving an investment from Zenith Multi Trading and you can bargain a deal for yourself if you get to the right end of the conversation.
You can send a basic enquiry for a Theka Coffee franchise in your area through their website.
Theka Coffee’s story is one of grit and unwavering resilience. While undeniably inspiring, it’s a vivid reminder that a remarkable product alone cannot flourish unless one puts their heart and soul into finding the right audience.
Cracking into the food and beverage industry and making a name is no small feat for a newbie brand. The intricate supply chains and formidable players like Pepsico make it a tough industry to crack into. However, Theka defied the odds, ascending through brave marketing strategies and the entrepreneurial genius of Bhupinder Madaan.
In a world where success demands more than just quality, Theka Coffee’s journey signifies that the fusion of exceptional product and relentless pursuit can create a symphony of triumph.