Bala Sarda is the 31-year- old CEO & Founder of VAHDAM India, a global wellness leader taking India’s finest teas, spices & superfoods to over 3 million consumers in over 130 countries, direct from the source.
Early Entrepreneurial Spirit
Bala was born and raised in New Delhi, India. From his childhood, Bala had the entrepreneurial bug. His early experiences gradually shaped his career and passion for entrepreneurship at every point.
While in college, Bala started two student startups. However, he wanted to create something that could truly add value and make an impact.
He started VAHDAM India at the age of 23 years old in 2015. The name comes from his father, Madhav, and is a reverse anagram. Bala’s father has always been a great inspiration to him. Bala comes from a lineage of over 85 years in tea and is the 4th generation in his family to run a tea business
Expanding The Brand: Vahdam’s Vision
Given his lineage, Bala started with tea, but his vision was always bigger. VAHDAM is a digitally native wellness brand taking India’s finest teas and spices to consumers across the globe under a home-grown brand, direct from the source and devoid of any middlemen.
The brand creates a wide variety of teas, inclusive of black, chai, green, oolong, white, and more. VAHDAM also recently launched VAHDAM Spices, an entirely new product category for the brand, which consists of a lineof 25 spices, including but not limited to turmeric powder, cumin powder, onion powder, Himalayan pink salt, and cinnamon powder.
Bala wanted his company to benefit the environment and his workers, and have strong ESG and CSR initiatives. VAHDAM India is a Certified Plastic Neutral & Climate Neutral and directs 1% of its revenue towards the education of growers’ children in India through its program “TEAch Me.”
Global Recognition And Trust Building
Additionally, VAHDAM has been endorsed organically by global icons like Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Ellen Degeneres, Martha Stewart, Nicole Scherzinger, and more.
VAHDAM’s promise of ‘Native Indian Wellnes Wisdom’ has connected strongly with consumers all over the world. For VAHDAM, the fundamental premise was to launch a brand that was proudly Indian and not just another tea brand.
However, building trust in a foreign land for an Indian brand was a tough nut to crack. Moreover, Bala realized along the way that there is a trust issue with the brand India, and hence, for the brand to expand globally, the bigger challenge lay in building trust rather than building the brand itself.
Overcoming Challenges And Achieving Success
Starting a new business is difficult, and the tea industry is particularly competitive. Expanding globally comes with substantial costs, so Bala had to secure funding for expansion. Raising funds in the first round was especially challenging, and he faced numerous rejections from investors.
However, Bala didn’t give up, despite times of self-doubt, anxiety, and fear. He believed in his product, idea, and vision. VAHDAM has raised $17 million in funding so far, and in hindsight, everything seems to have fallen into place.
As a young single founder, there is a lot that Bala learned about himself as he progressed. Some of the les- sons that he learned were to never doubt yourself and your idea and to offer a differentiated product that brings something new to the market.
After finding his own success, Bala advises other entrepreneurs to identify their ‘tickets to win.’ It could be the product, the distribution, or some innovation in the value chain, but there needs to be a ticket to win, and once you identify that, then double down on it.
It is very critical to have a differentiation factor and make available an exceptional product. Many challenges will come in time but never give up.
Entrepreneurship is about exploring new avenues and persevering during challenges. If one has the patience and determination, one can sail through any challenge.
If you would like to get in touch with Bala Sarda or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin