Chai Kaapi Founder Sahil Juneja shares his Journey
On our visit to Indore, we saw Chai Kaapi – The Biggest Cafe chain in MP. Somehow we managed to get in touch with Sahil Juneja – Director and Owner of Chai Kaapi which as we can see is the best chai franchise in India
The eldest son in the Juneja family of Wagheshwari Mata Mandir Ujjain, Sahil Juneja was born and brought up in Baba Mahakal’s Nagri – Ujjain.
He somehow managed to meet us in his busy schedule and told us about his journey.
His Early Life –
He was always a business-oriented personality. In his school days, he used to carry firecrackers and sell them in the school to other students so that they can burst them in the toilets. Evil but it is how it is. In his teenage he used to lend his cycle to his friends to keep up the expenses. His college life was a bit tough. He was famous for his out of the box queries and loved by all but was still a backbencher. Meanwhile, due to some unfavorable situations his dad had to wrap up his power looms in loss and was having no option left other than farming. They did face a tough time but His Chachas supported them more than anyone could ever imagine. It’s like they always treated them as their children.
He didn’t even have 10rs to buy a samosa in college days. He added “Friends used to pick me up since I didn’t have a bike of my own”
By Baba Mahakal’s grace within a couple of years, He Was doing a yearly turnover of more than a crore even before the term entrepreneur became cool. Had more than 5000 websites running live at a point, did crypto when Bitcoin was 200 USD, and bought a car for His Dad Mr. Rajesh Juneja even before He bought himself a Royal Enfield. Made enough that He bought bullet within a week after gifting His dad his first sedan car. Sahil Bought a house for His parents in one of the posh areas of the town and fulfilled their dream of having their own home.
How Chai Kaapi?
He said, “I was making good amount of money but I always wanted to do something in real world.”
Fortunately, his old college friend Suyash came back to Ujjain from Pune after his MBA and they finalized their years-old plan of starting a café business. He added “We went on our 3-month RnD journey. We traveled to pan India, went to Assam to procure tea, and went to south India to procure our coffee where we got help from the coffee board of India. To finalize our spices we went to Munnar. We had to miss Diwali as I recall for this.
We saw a great gap between the north’s chai and the south’s kaapi. Saw the market gap and we tapped. So is our name Chai Kaapi.. chai is to the north as kaapi is to south. Best of both worlds.”
Then they came back to Indore and finalized multiple locations. “6 I guess as we wanted to go big from day one. Our Risk-taking appetite was big. 2 of them we did not pull off because of an idiot partner of ours.” He said.
Like He said “We hired the best brains we could find in town. Went to Mr. Habib khan for our interiors as we wanted to give our ppl a place that had the ambiance, experience, and best quality food they could find, and that too at a pocket-friendly price bracket. We made sure that female clients should get access to clean and hygienic washrooms at Chai Kaapi”
Starting of the operations of the brand Chai Kaapi
We started with 4 outlets at once in Indore. I still remember the outlets were under construction and our launch date was in May 1st week. It was my birthday on 29th April and I got a surprise the time I walked into our office. Suyash rushed and made sure that the first outlet of chai kaapi is operational. We started our sales on 29th April 2016. It was our corporate canteen in Satguru Parinay Indore of which we gave the handover to Our Office Boy. Santosh Patil, is now a proud franchisee owner of Chai Kaapi Lite! Our wing for the places where Chai Kaapi is too big of a fish to swim.
About the USPs of the brand, he told us that “We used to provide free internet to our customers when 1 Gb data was of 250rs. We were doing exceptionally well from day 1. Our customers started calling our outlets as their dusraghar.”
As the old saying goes, if there are ups there will be downs. Even for Sahil, there was a tough time when he had heartbreak and things went haywire. Personally and professionally. Sahil was almost depressed and couldn’t do his duties for the next 2 years as he said.
How did you overcome it then?
I had to go vipassana for the inner peace I was craving since eternity.
How is it going now?
He then added “Chai Kaapi by now was getting mature as we planned. We added core team members – Ankit and Surya. Both are co-founders now. Surya even has his outlet of Chai Kaapi. We were evolving every day. Every customer feedback was taken care of personally either by suyash or me. Our systems and process were so strong that we were approached by decathlon staff to place a container in their premises. We were now the 1st container café in Indore. The concept was loved so much that people started visiting Chai Kaapi Decathlon just for the sake of selfies.”
If we go by the timeline, By 2019 ending Chai Kaapi had 17 outlets in 4 different Indian states. MP, Gujrat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra.
As per Sahil “We became the biggest and undisputed café brand in MP. We had a customer base of more than 30L high-paying customers in mere 4 years of operations. All our hard work and blessings were paying off. Then came the unforeseen covid which snatched almost 2 years of our lives. We were shaken to the core due to the lockdowns. We survived; our business survived by Baba Mahakal’s grace. And here we are today with 19 outlets pan India, 5 in the pipeline that will go live by December 2022”
Our complextime team then asked him about his plans to which he said that nowadays he is helping budding entrepreneurs overcome the hurdles that he faced himself. He told us that after covid he started multiple international eCommerce stores and is doing SEO for clients out of passion. He also did investments in real estate.
Chai Kaapi is still his main thing and with the passion he has for his brand, He said “I will expand Chai Kaapi till the end of the Universe if there is any”