Flush with the financial reinforcement, we were ready for the second innings. Red Bull was lording over the energy market in India but we felt the category still had a lot of potential to grow. Not just developed markets, even countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh, had a bigger energy drink market than ours… Tzinga was born…it was a copy of what was happening in the West.
It took us one-and-a-half year to work on the product. We launched it in 2011. The product was good, but it wasn’t growing as fast as we wanted it to. After more than a year, the burn rate wasn’t exactly inspiring. Maybe it was that…somewhere down the line, we lost interest in developing the drink. Had we continued only with Tzinga we would have been a relatively small success story. But the launch was a good lesson for us in terms of branding, about how distribution mattered.
At some stage we thought let’s do something different…vitamin water was an option. We kept discussing ideas at lunch. James usually wouldn’t bring anything and he would pile on our lunch box. Back then, Suhas used get a flask in which his mom would give him aam panna. We would all end up fighting for that. One morning, James mentioned that his parents were coming down from the US and he wanted them to have a local experience, especially gol gappa and aam panna. We told him not to go to roadside stalls for gol gappa as his parents might end up with a stomach disorder. At the same time, we scouted around for aam panna. What was available in the market were artificial flavours… none of the hotels in the city were serving it either. A chance visit and we had inadvertently stumbled upon a category gap in the functional beverages market – the one for traditional, authentic indigenous Indian drinks.
This time, it was eureka! The four of us put our heads down to work on cracking the first lead…it was not an easy task but the potential if we got the product and the taste right, was difficult to ignore.
Sequoia Capital came on board. I vividly remember the first meeting with VT and Sakshi at our Gurgaon office. It was January 2012. What a meeting that was…James, who an