Monalee Hazarika is a young entrepreneur who always dreamt of promoting her native state Assam at the national level. Initially, she thought of popularizing Assamese cuisine in different cities of India. For some reasons that didn’t happen. Monalee Hazarika’s dream came true last year when she along with one of her close friends Chetan Shetty started their own startup in Mumbai. They named their venture MTea House and chose to promote tea, a product that we often associate with the name “Assam”. The sourcing of the tea is done from the micro tea gardens of Dibrugarh, which is also the hometown of Monalee. Monalee and Chetan aim to keep tea in its purest and most authentic form so that tea lovers can relish the taste of the actual Assam Tea. MTea House is also exhibiting one of their signature products Hophura in the upcoming Toronto Tea Festival on January 28th and 29th of this year.
Today, in this interview session, Monalee Hazarika tells us about MTea House and share their inspiring story.
Hi Monalee, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. To begin with, please tell us a few lines about yourself and your co-founder at MTea House.
Chetan and I have been close friends for the last few years. With time our friendship grew and our understanding too. It was my dear wish to promote Assamese cuisine in different cities of India. I couldn’t do that, but instead, Assam Tea came in the scene and I am happy to take my hometown tea to Mumbai. We both have spent a lot of time in brainstorming with our product names and other things related to tea.
I hold an MBA degree in Marketing and HR specialization and have worked many years with MNCs. At present, I am a full-time tea person. Chetan is a Finance person and more into technicalities of the financial market.
When did you decide to start MTea House? And, why did you chose tea as your product?
I took the decision to start MTea House last year in July. Chetan was the first person with whom I shared my thoughts on it, and from then we have been mad with our tea venture. It’s more a dream and passion now than business. We are very emotionally attached to our products.
We selected tea as our product because I come from Dibrugarh which is known as the Tea City of India. There are 144 tea gardens in Dibrugarh and what best other than tea to reach out to all (poor and rich alike)!
Please tell us about your startup tea venture MTea House. What are some of your signature products?
At MTea House, we are trying to present our Mumbai and Pune patrons authentic Assam Tea which is pure and fresh.
As of now, we have two products – Horai (Assam CTC Tea) and Hophura (Orthodox Assam Tea). Hophura is hand made tea and is really getting all the love from the tea lovers.
Monalee, there are many tea gardens in Assam and qualities of tea vary are never the same for all the tea gardens. How do you go about sourcing the best tea in terms of quality?
We are sourcing our tea from the micro tea gardens of Assam and we spend a lot of time in tea tasting before putting it to our clients. We are trying to keep tea in its purest and most authentic way and so we are not into any blends and flavours with our tea.
MTea House is still in its early days. What are the major challenges that you often have to deal with?
Challenges are many as we are very new and still in the process of learning and getting adjusted. But yes, challenging the challenges is what we believe in.
How do you promote your products?
We are promoting our products through social media.
Narrate some of your success stories.
We don’t know whether we are successful. Time will decide our success but yes we are ready for everything. We want to bring back the glamour of tea.
Our Hophura is getting exhibited in the upcoming Toronto Tea Festival on 28th and 29th January 2017.
What are your future plans to scale up the growth of your tea venture MTea House?
We are planning to start Tea Tourism soon. As part of this initiative, we would take tourist visa groups to Dibrugarh to explore tea gardens and let the tea community tribe come in the limelight too with their culture.
Also by mid of this year, we are planning to take a very much traditional tea from Assam (Dheki Tea) to Mumbai.
If you are given an option to fix a failure of yours, what would it be and why?
Failure is the pillar of success. So we are ready for all the failures coming in our way. We are confident that we would overcome them with our strong bond of friendship and blessings from our family.
And, one last question of this session Monalee, if you have had one wish…
If I am asked for a wish, then the dearest wish would have been like Dad (my Father) and Uncle (Chetan’s Father) coming back from heaven and seeing us live our dream of being entrepreneurs.