Nepal Tea Collective 2023: The Year of Change and Transitions

Change is instant; transition takes time. We made many changes but underestimated the duration of transitions. While many people see change and transitions similarly, change is the decision to switch, while transition is psychological. Human instinct resists change, adapting to new rules or standards requires transition!

It might sound philosophical, but the theme for 2023 has been that the only constant is change! From leadership roles to project management tools, from our makeshift cafe tables to a proper office, from remote work to hybrid flexibility. 2023 was filled with changes and transitions that eventually transformed our team into a steady engine, capable of sustainably producing the desired results.

Entering 2023, we knew we faced a challenge. The fundraising was halfway done, and we had to accomplish much while steadily growing the business by over 100%. It was indeed a hefty goal, but I'm happy to report that we achieved around 56% YoY growth amidst all the changes and transitions.

Here are some highlights:

Change in Leadership:

Amigo, my best friend and partner in several ventures, joined us in a different capacity in 2023. It was not only an honor but also a strategic decision to bring him on board as a co-founder to propel the company to new heights. His vision was to be part of a global company with a tech component and authentic impact. NTC met all criteria, making it the most crucial decision Pratik and I made in 2023!

Transitioning to a slower fundraising pace:

Fundraising is a full-time job in itself, and I wish I had realized this sooner. However, in 2023, I focused on strategic fundraising, which was slow but provided the most value. This allowed me to create a pool of investors who not only brought in money but also genuine value to the business. Even better, these investors believe in the PBC model, where we create value for every stakeholder, not just shareholders.

Changes in our product line:

After a lengthy journey of ideation, prototyping, and redesigning, we finally launched our special tea bags, which are truly revolutionary in impact. It's probably the first tea bag in the market that doesn't feature a brand but a simple QR code. This QR code takes people to a page showing the tea's journey from farm to cup, making us transparent and traceable. While some may call it idealistic, we see it as our core proposition to impact producers and consumers alike. Every customer can trace their tea back to its garden and date of plucking and even tip the hardworking farmers right from that QR code. Tell me how that's not revolutionary!

Transitioned to a hybrid working model with a shiny new office in Kathmandu, Nepal:

It was about time since our team had worked in almost every café around the Jhamsikhel area due to the lack of an office in the first half of 2023. However, with the right opportunity, we now call Jawalakhel our HQ, making work smoother and more enjoyable. The only downside is that we're already outgrowing the space and may need to move again soon!

Our first photo together in the new office, back when we had nothing but bean bags for furniture!

Change in our Business Plan:

Opening up the Nepal e-commerce market channel and starting our tea bar were never in our business plan for the next few years. However, we received an incredible offer to do both, which we couldn't pass up. I commend our team for being nimble and pivoting focus to create this efficiently profitable segment of the business in such a short time. It's amazing to think that we've only had the tea bar for about four months, yet it feels like such an integral part of our vision. Now, the business plan has evolved to include a few more of these tea bars around Nepal and maybe even internationally.

Transition to a team triple the size:

This transition was crucial yet challenging for me personally, and likely for everyone involved. While growing the team size seems glamorous and impactful, it comes with its challenges. However, I'm grateful for the people who have been and are still part of the company because they've handled everything in an amazing way, making it almost a natural course.

Change in our tea tourism service:

While we took a record number of people (26 to be exact) on our newly revived tea tourism trips last year, it wasn't as smooth behind the scenes. From managing bigger to smaller groups, I traveled back and forth seven times in 2.5 months to finish the immersive tea tours and was exhausted by the end. However, every trip was worth it. The biggest change we faced was the construction of the skydomes, which weren't finished on time due to several factors. However, they are almost complete and ready to welcome guests for 2024!

Transition from tea buyers to friends, mentors, advisors, and investors:

2023 was also a year where we made many friends in the tea industry and are glad to call some of our clients our new partners, investors, and friends rooting for our success. While some static email relationships evolved into lifelong friendships and partnerships, some names we had only heard of in the tea industry became our investors, mentors, and advisors, all supporting the bigger movement we are building. These relationships are just beginning, but we are super grateful to have been part of their journey in their own tea ventures!

Change in our holiday marketing:

It seems impossible to think, but because of one email from Nik Sharma, one of the DTC guys we follow, we entirely flipped our holiday DTC game, scaling our holiday sales by 300% YoY. Sometimes, one email can truly change the trajectory of what you are trying to achieve. Learning from this, we are making significant changes to our marketing strategy and overall DTC business to gather momentum for 2024.

While these are some of the major changes and transitions we had to deal with, I cannot emphasize enough how much they have rewarded us with transformations that will allow us to create a solid foundation moving towards 2024. We’re already seeing some initial results in the first few weeks of 2024, but I can’t wait to see how we perform, change, transition, pivot, and adapt to what 2024 holds for us.

Lastly, amidst all these changes and transitions, we are truly proud of two major accomplishments that align well with our broader mission:

To create an identity for Nepal Teas around the world:

First, we created the most expensive tea ever produced in Nepal, where 2.2 lbs will cost you $1,000. Not only that, but the same tea received a highly commendable award at the Leafies Award ceremony in London, considered the Oscars of tea. This has elevated the global identity of the Nepali tea industry, and I sincerely hope it propels the broader Nepali tea industry further.

To empower and uplift a million farmers from poverty within their generation:

We were able to distribute 1% of revenue to all farmers and partners that work with us, and we are super happy to report that just 1% of our revenue has created a lasting impact on increasing income for the farmers. Almost 70 farmers were able to increase their income by around 10% this year due to this revenue share program. I can’t wait to see what the impacts of the “Tip your farmer” hold in 2024!

With the backbone of all this, I have deemed 2024 the year of conscious momentum! 

Only onwards and upwards from here!

Happy New Year,


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