I have been in the tea industry for 16 years, and for all these years I have worked in North American marketplaces (US & Canada). Thus when I decided to make the entry into exporting directly from Assam, I had to think of the process and packaging and partnerships that will get the teas directly to my customers without any hiccups or mistakes.
One of the best way to get rid of mistakes is to ensure there is a standard based work. We have standardized how our samples are packed and delivered to you.
Here is what you should see when you order samples from us. A box of samples. If this box looks beaten up, its because it actually traveled all the way from Assam to Canada before this picture was taken!
Once you open the box, you will find the packages of samples. They are all individually sealed and contain between 15 to 20-grams of tea leaves per invoice/lot/batch offered. If it is a standard that you wish to purchase, we can offer you larger sample size per item.
These particular teas are handmade teas from Upper Assam. They are very large and taste softer than usually available Assam orthodox black teas. Their smell however is exceptional.
You will also receive a packing slip which will give you a summary of what we are sending you and also a pricing idea of how much each tea will cost you.
That's it. Now you will have to make the hard decisions on which teas you want to buy, and let us know.
We accept a variety of payment options and we ship fast. Our goal is to develop long term relationships where all parties are winners.
From the day Kontreg re-positioned its goals to sell teas and spices, my aim was to be online and using the internet for most of operational and CRM activities of the business.
I went to Assam from Canada (where I live with my family) to get this business up and running, But within days of getting started I realized being an online business from Assam was going to be an issue. There is very limited net connectivity and that too restricted to urban areas. I cannot connect with the global marketplace from Assam!
So I moved to Plan B, which was to focus all energy in quickly getting Kontreg all the licenses required to export teas and supply the existing business in North America. Thus from November 2015 (when we were finally licensed to export tea) all my personal effort has been on delivering teas to the North American markets.
However, the fact was (and is) that Assam and its surrounding regions offers incredible opportunity to develop an independent export oriented business. The wide variety of native teas, herbs, and spices and also the fact that large commercial quantities of these are easily available, makes this region the perfect launchpad for dynamic export oriented businesses.
The fact that I live full time in Canada, also removes all the connectivity issues I had trying to get Kontreg online, back in Assam.
So, over the last 6 months, after returning back to Vancouver, Canada, from setting up the export operations of Kontreg in Assam, I have been plotting to complete the web components of Kontreg.
I realized that not only I needed a website for Kontreg, but I also needed to start regularly blogging about tea. I love tea! and there is always something that I see or hear during the week - that I would like to share with my prospects and clients .... most of whom over the years converts into good friends as well. And blogging also doesn't hurt SEO efforts of the website!
It was finally last Wednesday that I started in setting up Kontreg's online presence. By next day I had selected my platform (I am working on Weebly - love it so far!), and working through the weekend at about 1 or 2 hours everyday till today (Friday - so 9 days in total, and about 20 hours in) I have been able to complete this new website as of today (August 19, 2016). The website AND this blog (Made in Assam), goes live right now!
For me, all this is indeed a small step - getting Kontreg finally online was an effort, but I wouldn't call that a monumental effort by any stretch. But for Assamese entrepreneurs, most of whom have not had the exposure required to operate international businesses, Kontreg being online will definitely be a booster. I am saying that not out of pride but rather with great humility.
I was born into an Assamese family, and spent my childhood in Assam (so I understand the social temperament there). But I am also the product of boarding schools, lonely years away from home, and have lived in the West for 20+ years. I enjoy taking on hard challenges, and have secured two masters degrees; all this to say that I quite smart both in business world and in street smartness since a young age!
However, the experience of going back to Assam to start a business, and getting it the licenses required to conduct general business out of India, was monumental, by all freaking standards!
It took me 9 months to get all the required permits and licenses (15 and counting), in order to operate a legitimate business in Assam. I quickly realized why Assamese entrepreneurs do not even attempt to envision export oriented businesses here. The red tape in Assam is horrendous!
I wouldn't even advice my enemy to attempt what i did... starting a business in Assam.
So, the very fact that Kontreg is up and running, and doing great business from day one of being licensed to export (9 months ago) makes me proud.
But what makes me even more proud, is that Kontreg's birth and growth has given a lot of motivation to up and coming indigenous entrepreneurs in Assam.
These are youth in need of positive feedback, role models and guidance. I know because i am now working with half a dozen Assamese entrepreneurs who are farmers, and who are learning the ropes on how to setup their own organic farms, handcraft their teas, and to get their own export licenses. And now, they will also learn how to make their websites using drag-n-drop technology!
I have been a happy shepherd because I know I can genuinely help other Assamese entrepreneurs by sharing what I know. And these young businessmen will (hopefully) one day also help other indigenous youths to learn the ropes in international business.
Also for Assam itself, nothing can be better than young indigenous Assamese getting into businesses that trades and promotes the bountiful agricultural harvests of our region, around the world.
And with a website and a blog, we have two more tool in the arsenal - to spread the word about the goodness of Assam tea, around the world.
So Yes - this is a wrap on the project to get Kontreg online. The site and blog is up. And Yes - it was a minor project, but for the frustrating world of Assam-based entrepreneurs bogged down by red tape, the very existence of a business that is growing with these simple functional tools - help gives wings to ideas... "if he can do it.. so can I"...and my friend, that's the best kind of attitude in business!