Brewing a Vision: The Heady Tale of a Tea-preneur
If there is one thing that business women in India can be pronounced guilty of, it is that they are not taught to dream early on in life. Payalh Agarwwal would nod in agreement. Born in a typical Marwari family near Darjeeling, Payalh got married before she turned 18. At 19, she even had a miscarriage. She started her career as an educationist. Soon, she wound her way through life as a top insurance agent and a restaurateur, before she found her true calling – tea. Hailing from the land of tea, she diverted her passion in developing her own startup, Tranquilitea. In this no-holds-barred interview with HerMoneyTalks, Payalh lays bare her gritty story of risk and her innermost thoughts.
Tea is the second most consumed beverage on earth, next only to water. Payalh aims to explore its medicinal value, thereby establishing an international acclaim for her product.
“If we are willing to do what we need to do, the rest follows,” states Payalh. This, coming from a self-made woman who built a castle of tea with her staunch belief in her own worth.
Curating the first leaves of entrepreneurship
Business women in India struggling to get their ventures off the ground can take heart from Payalh’s experiences. Payalh firmly believes that difficult beginnings most assuredly give way to beautiful results when one is passionate and faithful in business.
The Tranquilitea owner gets nostalgic. “That moment back in 2010 is still fresh in my mind, when I handed over the keys of my flat to a stranger. I had to sell it in order to get over my financial constraints. I started a restaurant with that money and began to experiment in the food industry.”
Those days were truly exhausting as she shifted to a rented flat and had to manage everything herself. Later when she ventured into the tea business, Payalh had to sell stakes of her restaurant to meet her capital requirements. Her aspiration for achievement drove her on.
That moment back in 2010 is still fresh in my mind,when I handed over the keys of my flat to a stranger. I had to sell it in order to get over my financial constraints.
“When I entered the tea world, I felt I was a very small fish in the world of tea sharks. Yet, my never-give-up attitude kept pushing me,” recalls Payalh. The key challenge was lack of support from the tea ecosystem as she did not come from a family with business interests in tea. The technical knowhow of the industry was another challenge.
“People ignored my potential when I talked about raising funds and managing everything all alone. They don’t really acknowledge the credibility of a single-owner company, when compared to organizations with multiple partners,” adds Payalh. The fact that she did not have the tag of a ‘professional’ didn’t help.
Blending multi-tasking and introversion into doggedness
Like most business women in India, Payalh has had to don multiple hats. As finance head, operations head, management head, and sales person, Payalh takes immense pleasure in making financial decisions. “There were times when I had to burn myself to pay my son’s school fees, the rent, and staff salary,” shudders the gutsy entrepreneur.
Payalh even took up a job for ten months and worked meticulously on a 9-to-5 shift to earn more money. After office hours, she worked at the restaurant till midnight and tried to gain stability.
I grew up under a strict father, who never permitted me to get out of the house beyond 5 pm. I still remember my first flight journey. My hands and legs were shaking, as I grew extremely nervous.
She underwent an interesting transformation. “Perhaps, I was the biggest introvert anybody could have ever met in the world. I grew up under a strict father, who never permitted me to get out of the house beyond 5 pm. I still remember my first flight journey. My hands and legs were shaking, as I grew extremely nervous,” giggles Payalh.
From a shy woman who never went to the market or a mall to shop for herself, Payalh matured into a successful business woman. Public speaking was never her cup of tea in the past. Today, however, Payalh speaks effortlessly and connects confidently with people around.
Payalh and her tea bag of tricks for money management
Payalh has some golden brown tips for business women in India if they want to manage money expertly:
(1) Always keep control on your finances
(2) Be smart and wise in managing money
(3) Never let others make financial decisions for you
(4) Save your hard earned money and invest in multiple assets
(5) Keep a financial accountability partner
(6) Invest in LIC, health policies, and stocks
With determination and raw guts, Payalh has transformed her vision to a roaring success. Within 3 years, Tranquilitea served more than 15 million cups of tea and became a vendor to conglomerates in India and internationally.
She got selected by Goldman Sachs for the 10K Women’s program that was held in IIMB Bangalore. “I couldn’t hold back at that point, tears of joy rushing down my cheeks. For a moment, I even remembered that younger me, who had to stop her education at the age of 17. I had no support from her family and had to built herself from the scratch,” gushes Payalh.
Payalh even completed her further education. Today, she’s an IIM Alumnus, a public speaker, a business builder, and above all, a super mom.
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