Thursday, March 27, 2008


In 2002, I had two contract sales people working with me and boy did we push to bring on more Distributors. The same year, we expanded our product line from 15 to 45 and brought in our first sea shipment from India. I have vivid memories of this year as we were all crammed in a 1000 square foot office having to weave through pallets of inventory to get to the back. This also marked the first year where we transacted large, private label sales with Distributors. In less than 5 days we sold about $25 thousand worth of stock that needed to be private labeled. By this time, Suruchi was done her course and traveled to India to oversee the private labeling process. We brought the shipments in just in time for Christmas. 2002 was a whirlwind of a year, many highs, some lows, too much stress.

Heading into 2003, I realized that we made some errors in judgement and were in a cash crunch. My father stepped in and provided interim financing so that we could continue pushing forward. This same year, we added more products, 26, bringing the line up to 71. At the same time, we began discussions with Mike Prince, the Founder of Shangers, Ltd. and formed a strategic alliance which is still in place. 2003 marked further growth as we moved out of our 1000 square feet location one full year ahead of schedule to a 3000 square foot facility that enabled us to warehouse three 20 foot containers at a time. To ramp up customer service, we hired more staff and kept pushing forward. A highlight of 2003 is the Master Distributor conference which resulted in the closure of our first Master Distributor. The role of the Master Distributor during this period was pivotal because it enabled us to continue servicing our growing number of Distributors in the United States as we faced continued challenges with new Homeland Security Measures.

In 2004, we added two more Master Distributors, many more Distributors, and continued to push forward. Our product line expanded tremendously as we added 138 more products. Indeed, this was a very exciting period as we realized that we now could compete with other large importers and wholesalers in the United States.

Volumes continued to grow, but we did realize that there were some critical problems in our model. The lack of personal training. It was growing increasingly more difficult to train our Distributors. Personal training, we realized is becoming an issue and became the focus of the company for the next two years.

Click Here to read REFLECTION & TURMOIL (2005-2006)


Beginning in 1999, I decided that instead of trying to market the product into every possible channel that I needed to focus. After being involved in so many business opportunities, I began formulating plans for my own business opportunity. I wanted to know if other entrepreneurs saw similar opportunities in tea, so in 2000 I decided to run an ad to see if there were other entrepreneurs interested in tea. I was inundated with so many requests that I did not know how to respond. I put the ad in only as a test. I had no idea I would get so many requests. But this test told me that there was truly an opportunity here, and I must pursue it. So I began formulating the “Opportunity is Brewing” program. But, I was tapped financially. I needed capital.

I made presentations to venture capitalists in April, 2000. No one wanted to give me money. So I tried the bank. The lending gods heeded my request. With a loan from the bank, I set out to create my tea empire. From my small 200 square foot office in 2001, I began developing the first marketing materials to send out to information requests. My theory at this time was that people did not need to know I was in a 200 square foot office. I wanted viewers of the ad to believe I was this huge all-encompassing tea company, so I decided that the key was the creation of a very comprehensive professionally created information kit to recruit Distributors, backed up with a solid web foundation and 24/7 answering service so that we appeared as if lots of people worked at our firm. In fact, Tea Connexions at the time had one full time employee, me, because my wife, Suruchi was attending University. I worked with a contract web designer, graphic designer, and copy editor. These individuals not only became intrigued with the project, but my most vocal supporters.

2001 was perhaps the hardest year because no money was coming in, but all money was going out. June, 2001, I gambled and moved into 1000 square feet, in anticipation of growing the business. I was using my AMEX Airmiles to pay off the MBNA Platinum which was paying off the Capital One, which in turn was paying off the AMEX Corporate. I had negotiated payment terms with everyone I could, and basically put my last penny into this. On a wing and a prayer, July, 2001, we sent out 150 information kits to people that had requested information as far back as 1999. My comment to Suruchi, “I will be happy if we get one sale, then it is a success. If it doesn’t work, I guess I will have to get a job.”

Well, it worked. The first Distribution partners began to join in July, 2001. I was elated, excited, and actually totally stressed out because I had not really thought the program through beyond the recruitment. In July, I should have been working on the online training, but as I was not sure if it was going to work, decided to take a bit of a holiday. August 2nd to 10th, I worked on four hours of sleep per night, working from 11am to 7am the next day because I had to get the online training done. During the day, I did sales, marketing, answered phones, and did other admin work, then once 7pm hit, brewed up a pot of coffee, pretty much drank it all and wrote at a frenzied pace. Then at 7am the next day, forwarded my writing to the copy editor, who would then forward it on to the web designer. I needed to get the training done, so I could process the applications. Talk about motivation. I had over $10,000 worth of business to transact, but could not until the online training was complete.

Click Here to read DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH (2002-2004)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


But I have always had a vision of building an empire. My dream of building a business empire actually began in my 600 square foot apartment. At that time, I decided that I wanted to have a company that was involved in international trade, shipping, real estate, and investments. I have always dreamed big, just did not know how I was going to achieve these dreams.

Tea Connexions, I feel, is my vehicle to attain my dreams.

The more I learned about tea, the more I realized that I had discovered a very unique tea: specialty tea. I really had no idea, at the time, that there would be such huge market demand for such teas, but I also realized that when you used to go into a 7-11 and order coffee, all you got was coffee. In 1999, anywhere you went for coffee, there were so many choices. Tea, on the other hand, really did not have any unique blends, or at least anything that I could find. I immediately believed that there must be opportunity here. The more I learned about tea and the specialty teas I was importing from India, the more I realized that this could one day be huge. Timing, of course, is everything.

Click Here to read BIRTH OF OPPORTUNITY: 1999-2001


After being married in 1999, Suruchi and I met with the supplier. Suruchi picked out a line of products, about 15 items that appeared in the first catalog: “Gourmet teas beautifully packaged”. I thought there would be a market for this product, so I immediately placed a small order. In 1999 I brought in two shipments of tea and began marketing it. I was marketing it through wholesale, retail, tv ads, you name it, I tried everything. In fact, I had identified so many markets for the products that it was difficult to choose the channel to pursue: gift, health, or tea. Everyone I knew got samples. From my small 200 square foot office and my first warehouse of 100 square feet, I began marketing gourmet teas beautifully packaged. I was not only the sales person, inventory manager, etc. but also the graphic designer creating my own marketing tools. I threw myself into researching the teas and learned as much as I could. I, essentially, became obsessed with tea it became my passion, my life.

1999 was both an exciting time for Tea Connexions, but also a hard time. It was a period of great excitement, but filled with fears. I sometimes used to ask myself if this was going to work? What if I don’t sell all this inventory? Am I doing the right thing?

But, I pushed on and even in the dark periods, when everything was going wrong or seemed to be going wrong, I would look up at the wall in front of my computer and read the quotation about not quitting:


When Things Go Wrong As They Sometimes Will;
When The Road You’re Trudging Seems All Uphill;
When The Funds Are Low, And The Debts Are High;
And You Want To Smile, But Have To Sigh;
When Care Is Pressing You Down A Bit- Rest If You Must, But Don’t You Quit.

Success Is Failure Turned Inside Out;
The Silver Tint Of The Clouds Of Doubt;
And You Can Never Tell How Close You Are;
It May Be Near When It Seems Afar.
So, Stick To The Fight When You’re Hardest Hit-
It’s When Things Go Wrong That You Mustn’t Quit.

So, as you can see, Tea Connexions has had very humble beginnings. Like many other huge companies like Hewlett Packard that started in a garage, Dell that started in a college dorm, and dare I say, Starbucks that started with just one store, Tea Connexions has similarly had very humble beginnings.

Click Here to read DREAM BIG.


1998 was a pivotal year for Tea Connexions, for this was the year that I met Suruchi while I was researching my own product line. After being a broker for several years I decided that I did not want to market any product that I did not physically own. So I travelled to India. It was during this trip that I looked into many product lines. Mushrooms, not the magic kind, explosives (yikes), herbal products, spices, pharmaceuticals, wall hangings, etc. I attended trade shows, met with relatives, basically did as much networking as I could. But nothing really caught my eye, with the exception of Suruchi. On a visit to my parents birth place, I met Suruchi. Well, my mind was no longer thinking about business, but how I could meet Suruchi. She looked so cute. It truly, was love at first sight. I just knew that she was my soul mate and prayed that we would be together. Well, the “someone up there” heard my prayers.

Soon after my engagement, I had to travel back to Canada. My only priority at this time, was to go back to India to see Suruchi. It was in September, 1998 that I travelled back to India. During this trip, I just happened to stop into a tea shop, and saw the most amazing packaging for teas and immediately found what I was looking for. So, as you can see, Suruchi is the reason I got into the tea business.

Click Here to read HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


The idea of Tea Connexions began in 1998, after 4 years of being an import/export manager for other companies. From November, 1994 to December 31, 1997, Connexions Trading International Incorporated was essentially a broker. I started my company at a kitchen table in a 600 square foot apartment. At the time I paid for expenses as a caretaker, but also began selling other peoples products. I also spent much time participating in other business ventures, such as network marketing and became quite successful. However, I always longed to create something of my own.

Many people look at my father and I and think that we are very different. My father is a world renowned Pharmacologist, with worldwide patents on viral drugs. My father and mother came to North America with very few financial resources and have built a life for me and my sisters. They have worked very hard to ensure that I could pursue my dreams. Like my father who pursued the creation of drugs to help humanity, I have sought to create a company with the mission of empowering humanity. My father focused on health and well being. Similarly, my goal when I set up Tea Connexions was to aid and empower aspiring entrepreneurs to improve their financial well being through the distribution of a product that increases life and well being.

My father and I may have different educational backgrounds, my father studied science. I, however, pursued humanities and excelled. At one time I very much wanted to be a professor teaching in a history department. I wanted to create knowledge. I, however, have always felt a greater calling, a calling to create something that would live on forever. My father’s patents are perpetual, Tea Connexions, I hope, will outlast me and become a worldwide entity that will live on in perpetuity. This is my calling in life. This is what I dreamed of, the creation of an international corporation that would aid society through the sale of high quality, life giving consumables. This is my passion.

From my father and mother I have learned the values of hard work, honesty, and the value of money. My parents have been tremendous providers for me and I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice.

Like my father, I am very much looking forward to designing my life so that I can provide for my family. My dear wife, Suruchi and I often joke that we gave birth to Tea Connexions, and this is our first child. Tea Connexions is maturing, as is our second child, Shivam.

Click Here to read TEA AND LOVE.