India is the world's second-largest tea grower after China. Yet, even as the country produces quality specialty varietals that are as highly regarded as wines from France and whisky from Scotland, its industry is antiquated.
With the backing of one of Silicon Valley's biggest venture capital firms, Accel Partners, Kaushal Dugar, a Singapore-trained financial analyst, is among those slowly bringing the sector into the modern era via his online tea retailing start-up, Teabox.
The bulk of India's production — about one billion of the total 1.2 billion kilograms (2.6 billion pounds) — is consumed by the domestic market where mass-market brands from the Indian conglomerate Tata and the multinational Unilever hold sway. But the remaining 200 million kilograms is a market ripe for shake-up.
"We grow some of the best teas in the world, but our processes are archaic and marketing is nonexistent," said Arun Kumar Gomden, a tea industry consultant who managed tea estates for 35 years.
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