Gig Wage Customer Spotlight: Kolkata Chai Co.
The pandemic has hit the United States differently in every city, state, and profession; However, some companies have learned to innovate to reach their customers. One of our customers, Kolkata Chai Co., has done an incredible job creating a systematic approach to provide their customers with products while keeping everyone safe. Kolkata Chai Co. is a New York City cafe that showcases the personality and values of Kolkata. We recently had the opportunity to interview Ani Sanyal about how he and his brother have built Kolkata Chai Co., and what his experience has been like navigating a company through a pandemic.
A little about you:
GW: Introduce yourself and your business.
AS: My name is Ani Sanyal, and I’m an entrepreneur that lives at the intersection of business and culture. My brother, Ayan, and I started Kolkata Chai Co to bring authentic masala chai and Indian street food to the masses.
GW: What is your business’s mission?
AS: Our mission is to reclaim the narrative around chai in the Western world and reintroduce the product in an authentic way that respects its culture and tradition. We’re also focused on pushing our culture forward through innovative storytelling and content.
GW: How did you decide to start your business?
AS: My brother and I started a marketing agency in 2016 working with DTC brands and learned that business from the ground up. Along the way, Ayan started to make chai a form of meditation to get away from the agency's stress. Soon after, we decided to test his chai at farmer's markets and pop-up shops. One thing led to the next, and the momentum grew to the point where we knew we needed to open a retail location. It sounds crazy when I think about it now.
GW: What key factors have led to your success?
AS: It was a combination of product-market fit, branding, and community. We were able to identify our audience early on and served them a product that was a cut above anything in the market. We coupled that with an innovative brand presence that leveraged social media to build community and story tell.
GW: What advice do you have for businesses that employ contractors?
AS: Treat your contractors as part of your team because you never know what a temporary relationship can turn into. By inviting them into the process, paying them on time, and acknowledging their work, you have the ability to build meaningful relationships for the long term.
GW: How has COVID-19 impacted or shifted your business?
AS: COVID-19 changed everything about our retail business — our cafe was only operational for 6 months before NYC had to shut down. We immediately decided to pivot to a delivery and e-commerce model, which meant we had to build new systems, hire people quickly and keep a close eye on our operational costs. All while trying to stay safe and supporting our team.
Your Thoughts on Us:
GW: What problem(s) were you trying to solve with our product?
AS: Early on in the business, we needed to focus more on growth than operations. We needed a quick, digital solution to pay our various contractors without disruptions to the business. We didn’t have the time or capacity to process physical forms and long email threads and needed something simple for our contractors and us.
GW: How does our product or service stand out from other options?
AS: Gig Wage exceeded our needs in terms of simplicity and fees, the process was easy on our contractors, and it allowed us to make payments in a few clicks rather than through a clunky bank website or backend. Every founder values speed and simplicity, and that’s where we fell in love.
GW: What made you happiest about working with our company? What is your biggest success story?
AS: Gig Wage allowed us to scale quickly when we needed it the most, it helped us build trust with our employees, which was invaluable.
As a minority-owned company, we resonated with Craig’s mission and values and have been excited to grow alongside Gig Wage over these past few years.
To learn more about Ani Sanyal and Kolkata Chai Co., visit their website here. If you’re ever in New York City, they would love for you to visit their cafe in the East Village or shop Kolkata Chai Co. right now on their website here. We are so proud to be supporting entrepreneurs like Ani Sanyal and his brother, Ayan, and we cannot wait to see what incredible things they do next!
Written byAndrea Park