Legend Of Rupesh Thomas: A Chai Wala With Rs 24.8 Crore-Empire

Who would have thought that selling tea would become a business worth crores? Well, for this man from Kerala who grew up in a rented house, earning such a behemoth amount seemed like a dream, but his beliefs landed him in London and his hard work and flavorful tea made him one of the tycoons in food and beverage Industry. It wasn’t eventual but gradual and it took time for his tea to touch everyone’s soul.

Started off with pennies

Rupesh Thomas wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Born on May 1978, he lived in a rented house with his parents and a younger brother. He saw financial hardships but he always believed in freedom of expression, creativity and openness. He also knew that his future resided in the west. Despite being from a humble background, he somehow managed to complete engineering from University of Madras in 1994 and headed to London in pursuit of a brighter future with 600 pounds in his pocket. His dream was finally coming true.

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Our family came from absolutely nothing; I grew up in a small rented house with our mum and her brothers. I must have been 13 when my brother and I finally had our own bed to sleep on,” recalls Rupesh.

Setting foot in London

Although he was there where he always wanted to be but life was not easy there. He had to do something for survival so he got a job at McDonald's against 4 pounds an hour but his enthusiasm of being there made him happy even as he slogged for ending shifts. He further switched to a door-to-door salesman’s job as well and showed great work ethic for which he was promoted as a team leader in 2002. He met Alexandra, his soul mate there and later married her in 2007.

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(The founders of Tuk Tuk Chai)

After marriage he tried to setup his own telecom company but it was not easy. It took him six long and strenuous months. During that time, they relied on what Alexandra made as a receptionist. The couple even had to cut down their weekly food budget to 20-25 pounds.  But he didn't give up and finally made it. Despite having everything he wanted, he always felt that he was lacking on passion and life. He had an inclination towards food industry and so he tried to introduce a drink based on yogurt, similar to lassi found in India. But the UK market wasn't ready for it and it didn't work. It was disheartening but luckily life had something rolled under its sleeve for him.

I was always looking for other businesses and opportunities and always romanced with the idea of doing something in the food industry,' says Rupesh.

Observation turned into idea

Usually a vacation means getting off from work but for Rupesh, a trip to Kerala gave him idea and motivation to turn his fate around. When this couple was on a trip, he noticed that Alexandra developed a penchant for tradition Indian milk tea and that’s how the game changer idea took its shape. Alexandra would love to drink tea and the tea they found in UK was no more than sweetened milk. It was getting popular in UK and had huge scope in the market. It was time for him to drop the hammer.

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(Innovation)

The couple used this opportunity to introduce an infusion of black tea, whole spices and creamy milk with just a hint of sugar under the name ‘Tuk Tuk Chai’. In no time Tuk Tuk Chai gained popularity because of its unique and authentic taste and got voted as the most innovative product at lunch 2017 trade show. It became every tea lover's favorite in no time. Due to their efforts and drive for food,  Rupesh and Alexandra became distinguished names in the food industry of UK and Tuk Tuk Chai reached a net worth of 2 million pounds (over Rs 24.8 crore). It was no magic but pure hard work with a pinch of focus and dedication.

My success has nothing to do with luck. It's down to hard work and grit. I have a real hunger for success and the attitude to never ever give up,” says Rupesh.

pic courtesy: pic-1, pic-2, pic-3;

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