Tell us about yourself?
Hi! I am Akshay Jaggi, Partner & Founder of Home Blend Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee roastery based in New Delhi, India. Our coffees adopt the ‘third wave culture’, where quality and care from plant to cup is what our customers enjoy.
I am a serial entrepreneur with a passion for founding and scaling niche products segments and solutions with exceptional quality and customer experience. My niche has always been in finding gaps in products and services with a potential to add greater value to consumers.
Having travelled extensively across South-East Asia, Europe and the US, also studying and working in the UK, I have had the opportunity to closely understand consumer behaviour and markets across regions.
I have always believed that passion and hard-work largely contribute to success overall.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
The biggest misconception is to believe that a great idea is everything one needs to run and execute a successful startup. In my opinion there are multiple factors including timing, execution with the right team and market.
Every start-up, company or business has it’s own journey, timeline and growth cycle – nothing is set in stone. Second, a lot of start-ups burn cash unnecessarily to gain market share or create a hype in the market which has short-term benefits.
In the long run, a slow burn along with a quality product or service should pull customers via word of mouth, as that is truly the easiest and cheapest form of customer acquisition. Markets are always open to all and delivery is more important than the pace at which you scale.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Creating the right culture, spirit and enviornment at an early stage is of utmost importance to attract and retain the right people in your team.
Without the right team or the appropriate culture, there’s only so much one can do or achieve.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
I always spend most of my time to nurture, educate and eventually empower my team. I believe that a team functions well when every member is emotionally attached to the project and feels equally responsible towards each other and the company.
Also, developing an open culture of learning, understanding and solving problems together makes for a more fun and productive environment – That said, I have always set high standards for myself and my team which is equally as important.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
I always write down my to-do list instead of using a device, as penning things down helps me retain most of my day’s activities.
I start my day with meditation to always have composure at work, to have a clear mind, and focus on my tasks. I also take time to reflect on my day before I retire at night.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Quality and assurance of quality is what we strive for when we produce our coffee.
Our plantation-based sourcing of coffee beans, which are pre-deemed ‘specialty grade’ by the coffee boards and other dignitaries are key indicatives of our focus on quality. Another important aspect is innovation and working towards reducing our carbon footprint.
We are amongst the first brands to introduce the equipment-free, convenient pour-over concept of Drip Coffee Bags in our markets – these bags brew a perfect cup of coffee without any costly equipment or unnecessary hassle, and are 100% compostable.
A tailored and ‘boutique’ process which gives each of our customers a more personalised experience by delivering to them their desired roast levels, flavour profiles, grind sizes and bean variants is also one of many things that we take pride in as a company, as it helps us retain healthy and long-term relationships with our clients.
Where do you see your business in five years?
The East is adopting coffee and the west is adopting tea – following this trend, we have ambitions to expand our footprint in South-East Asia, the UK, and certain parts of Europe along with increasing our market share as a D2C brand and B2B partner in existing markets.
We would eventually like to be a global name and brand when it comes to quality coffee.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
As a cash flow positive company that likes to grow organically, I think the biggest challenge to our growth would be slacking on our focus and pace, as we need to work harder each day to achieve our goals.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
In a matter of 4 years, we’re competing head-on with global brands and market leaders on the largest e-commerce platforms like Amazon.
Acceptance, adoption and retention from our customers has been phenomenal and that is the biggest boost of confidence that keeps us going and growing.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
Our customers find us in many ways mostly on the web, but most customers do end up trying our brand as a referral.
I think word-of-mouth is the best way our customers can find us, as it really helps our customers gain trust in us, but also helps us gain confidence in our work and gives us a sense of achievement.
I am always open to interacting with my customers personally if required. I come from a place of empathy in trying to understand their needs in my interactions, which I believe, helps me close most sales as well.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Always follow your passion, pick your team and investors wisely. I would really suggest all founders to raise funds only if and when required and always try to be cash flow positive, at-least on a per-transaction basis even if you’re burning to scale.
Having the right team, culture, and timing are also an important factors that can make or break your start-up.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
I hope the future brings us closer to many of our milestones as a company and as individuals. If a cup of our coffee can help start your day better, we’d like to have that positive impact on our customers daily and globally!