The Indian startup ecosystem has been growing exponentially over the past few years. Now, not just entrepreneurs and angel investors invest in these businesses, the startup and homegrown brands ecosystem is attracting celebrities’ interest as well. Consequently, the Indian film industry actors have also turned into investors, and are investing their money in startups and businesses, along with venture capital and private equity funds, to make the most of this growth in Indian markets. And the latest to join this list of celebrity investors is top actress Deepika Padukone with her investment in Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters.
Earlier this year, Blue Tokai raised $30 Million in its Series B funding round led by A91 Partners. Deepika Padukone has invested an undisclosed amount in the coffee brewing brand Blue Tokai through her investment entity Ka Enterprises. While announcing its Series B round earlier this year, Blue Tokai had said that it would use the fresh funds to scale its business and expand its presence in specialty coffee markets globally.
Last year, the startup added Negen Capital and Mauryan Capital to its list of backers in an extension of its pre-Series B funding round. It is also backed by Anicut Capital, 8i Ventures, DSP Blackrock, and White Whale Ventures. The coffee brand is also working towards launching a slate of new fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) products. “This year, we are taking experimentation, quality, accessibility and convenience a notch higher and the current growth metrics are a true indication of the success to follow,” said Matt Chitharanjan, CEO of Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters.
Both Parties On The Partnership
Commenting on the investment, Padukone said, “As someone who is immensely passionate about homegrown brands and deeply values authenticity and transparency, investing in Blue Tokai was an evident choice.” Her team has been following the brand’s growth very closely over the past decade.
“We have observed their vision and commitment to quality and innovation and are therefore thrilled to partner with them on their journey of making Indian specialty coffee accessible, delivering unparalleled coffee experiences and putting it on the global map,” Deepika added.
Matt Chitharanjan, Co-Founder and CEO, Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters, said, “We are glad to welcome Deepika and Ka Enterprises to the Blue Tokai family! Their thorough understanding of the D2C space and strategic investments are a testament to their strong business acumen and we are excited to have them join us on our next phase of growth.”
Deepika’s Investment Portfolio
Deepika Padukone dons multiple hats — actor, producer, investor, entrepreneur, global brand ambassador, and a lot more. In May 2021, she incorporated a new company DPKA Universal Consumer Ventures Pvt. Ltd. under which she launched her premium skincare brand 82°E last November. Besides being among the topmost actors in Bollywood, Deepika even leads from the front when it comes to investing in startups. She reportedly holds a diversified portfolio involving multiple investments that she has been quietly building over the last few years.
DP set up her family office KA Enterprises in 2014 and began investing in startups and businesses shortly after. Some of her key investments include Drums Food International, the parent company of flavoured Greek yogurt brand Epigamia, Furlenco, electric vehicles startup Blu Smart, Bengaluru-based space tech startup Bellatrix Aerospace, Atomberg Technologies, learning and community ed-tech platform Front Row, Mokobara, digital pet care platform Supertails, Nua, and so on. Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters is the newest addition to this dynamic list.
The Coffee Culture
“Coffee culture” is a trend that has been growing in the urban cities in India rapidly in the recent few years. Despite the country’s long-standing preference for tea, coffee has swiftly established itself as a convenient drink of choice for many. This shift in beverage preference can be attributed to evolving lifestyles, rapid urbanisation, pop culture influence, and India’s transition into a more fast-paced and globally connected society. The rise of specialty coffee shops and global coffee chains like Starbucks and now Tim Hortons has played a crucial role in solidifying coffee’s position in the country.
These establishments have become cultural hubs, fostering a strong sense of community. With an emphasis on exceptional coffee beans, meticulous brewing techniques, and skilled baristas, these coffee shops have found a loyal customer base among the urban youth, particularly millennials and Gen Z. It has pretty much become a fad amongst people to go sip freshly brewed coffee and grab a bite with their friends. These cafes are aesthetic, cozy, and quaint, and also offer Wi-Fi access, making it an ideal spot to work from as well. All of the above has contributed to the elevation of coffee culture across the nation.
About Blue Tokai
A coffee roasting company, Blue Tokai operates in India and Japan with 4 roasteries and over 80 physical outlets across major Indian cities. Founded in 2013 by Matt Chitharanjan, Namrata Asthana, and Shivam Shahi, Blue Tokai offers a wide range of ready-to-drink products, munchies, and gifting options as well.
Currently, the company has a presence in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Mohali, and Pune, among others, in India, as well as regular pop-ups in Tokyo. On the B2B front, the coffee brand has partnered with different retail outlets across India, luxury hotels and restaurants, top corporates, and co-working spaces, among others.
“Our mission since we started has stayed simple: introduce our customers to the estates we directly buy our great tasting coffee from, roast the beans with care, and make high quality coffee more accessible through our cafes and our website. The coffee we roast is the coffee we like to drink, and we hope you like it too,” says the company on its website.
“Evaluating hundreds of green bean samples by cupping them every harvest season, before making our final selections is standard procedure at Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters. We work closely with our Q-Grade certified Director of Coffee to create industry leading procedures such as cupping every single batch that is roasted to ensure consistent quality.”
Blue Tokai competes with the likes of Rage Coffee and Third Wave Coffee Roasters in the specialty coffee market. Meanwhile, Deepika Padukone’s investment highlights the growing trend of actors and cricketers backing home-grown startups. The likes of Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Suniel Shetty are among the celebrities who have invested in Indian startups.