IIT-incubated CuppaTrade brews digital disruption in tea sales

While the Indian tea market is dominated by auctions and private sales, CuppaTrade – the IIT-Kharagpur incubated startup – is looking to digitize tea sales through its B2B platform.

The CuppaTrade platform, which aims to connect small-scale tea producers and last-mile buyers, was launched last week. CuppaTrade, set up last year by Sandip Thapa and Mihir Gandhi, professionals with experience in tea and B2B platforms, says it helps tea producers get higher rates, while reducing costs for buyers.

“Our focus is clearly on small tea growers, cooperatives and small tea producers who generally do not have the means or knowledge to access markets and are exploited by a handful of traders, packers and exporters. On the other hand, there are many buyers who do not know that much variety exists. At several price points, simply because no platform or entity has exposed young tea buyers to such teas.”CuppaTrade bridges that gap,” said Thapa, co-founder and CEO of the company.

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The platform has registered more than 900 buyers and more than 300 small producers from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Kangra, Nilgiris and Nepal.

“Our goal is to reduce the current sales cycle time by 90 percent, reduce the cost of sales by 80 percent, while making the cost of purchase 70 percent cheaper,” said Thapa. CuppaTrade says it has reduced sales costs to 2-2.5 rupees per kg as opposed to 8-10 rupees per kg in the current auction system. Similarly, the sales cycle time will be reduced to 2-7 days from the current 35-50 days, Thapa said.

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While registration is free for buyers, sellers are charged 1.25 percent of the total transaction value. For sellers, CuppaTrade will provide a cup score for their tea, based on the samples provided.

Thapa said the startup is also working with IIT-Kharagpur on developing AI-based models to help predict prices and tackle the tracking issue. Besides, it has linked up with HDFC to address credit issue for both buyers and sellers.

Of the 1.350 million kilograms of tea produced in India, about 40 percent is traded through auctions, and the remainder through private sales. “Small tea producers are outside the scope of auction auctions, the domain of brokers because their volumes are small, while auctions are not considered the best selling venue for specialty tea manufacturers because they produce in small quantities,” Thapa said.

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For sellers, the new platform seeks to offer one-on-one negotiations, as in private sales, flexibility in timing of sales offer, package size, sampling and sample size, faster sales, 50 percent reduction in sales costs, increased buyer base, and direct access. to pan India and global markets.For buyers, CuppaTrade will provide access to fresh tea due to fast sales cycle, wide variety to choose from, full traceability from factory to destination, lower purchase price for secondary buyers/semi wholesalers through better value distribution, thus Reduce the layers,” said Dharmaraj, a tea expert, educator and advisor to CuppaTrade.

“I am absolutely convinced of the potential of this model to revolutionize the field of tea marketing, having spent two decades trying to reform the basic market structure of tea in India,” added Dharmaraj.