Influential Leaders

Kaushal Dugar

Kaushal Dugar

Singapore Management University, Lee Kong Chian School of Business

Speciality Foods

Credited in a New York Times article as one of India’s new crop of tea entrepreneurs responsible for “bringing the sector into the modern era via his online tea retailing startup, Teabox,” Dugar cut his teeth early when he founded a business that provided affordable refurbished computers for India’s lower-income groups. After a stint in the corporate world with KPMG, Dugar took on the 200-year-old Indian tea industry when he leveraged innovations in technology and supply chain to start Teabox from scratch, with a vision to build India’s first billion-dollar global tea brand.

At Teabox, through their supply chain innovations, the company has cut the production to consumption cycle from three to six months to as little as five to seven days. A team is based close to the tea gardens and is out there, tasting, selecting, and procuring teas that are freshly plucked and processed. They focus heavily on packaging and storing to retain freshness and are the only link between the gardens and the consumer.

Teabox has achieved a commendable logistic efficiency, successfully shipping to customers in about 75 countries. By dis-intermediating the supply chain, Teabox is able to make premium teas affordable to consumers worldwide. As the single link between producer and consumer, the company has been able to offer the best prices to its customers. A strong pro-consumer approach has been a key reason for the company’s success.

The company has designed and developed a patent-pending prediction engine that matches users to teas they would love. By taking inputs on user preferences and using a complex algorithm, the engine provides a selection of teas that the user would enjoy.

Regarding the success of his company, Dugar notes, “We have successfully managed to create a scalable, global brand and in our three years of existence, and we have shipped 20 million cups of teas to customers in 75 countries. Teabox has been featured in various publications such as the New York Times, Forbes, and Tech Crunch, among others.”

Even though Dugar has caught the eye of high-powered investors such as Silicon Valley-based Accel Partners—the first Indian tea company to ever do so—his sense of social mission is never far behind. Inspired by the work of Cambridge University physicist Neil Turok, who founded the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences to promote education in Africa, Dugar wanted to increase literacy in underprivileged communities and subsequently cofounded Books to Read, a nonprofit aimed at helping young children in developing nations gain access to books. Dugar ran a successful campaign to ultimately collect 100,000 books for children in Tanzania and Zambia.

Dugar also is a founding member of Sandbox Network, a global community of young achievers and innovators committed to transforming ideas into action.