by Riche Atos / May 18, 2021

Are you the type of entrepreneur who gulps coffee to power through the entire day, or do you prefer to take breaks, enjoy a snack, and relax with a soothing cup of chai tea?

If you’re the latter and you’re in the UAE, chances are you’ve already seen and visited this popular brand serving real, authentic tea inspired by tea cultures from all over the world. I’m talking about Project Chaiwala founded by Ahmed Kazim and Justin Joseph, whom I’m interviewing in the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast this week. Their homegrown tea concept brings a nostalgic charm and traditional recipes to a modern setting and celebrates chai culture every day.

In this episode, you’ll get a closer look at how these two friends turned their love for chai into a successful business venture, how they got started, its impact on their consumers, suppliers, and the world, and where they’re taking this business in the future.

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Episode Highlights:

[02:41] Ahmed and Justin’s background in finance before starting a business together
[04:20] Their entrepreneurial ventures during childhood until college
[06:37] Why they decided to launch a business despite having successful careers at Deloitte
[07:41] How they came up with the idea to start a chai business
[09:39] Touring the streets of India and having endless cups of chai
[11:22] Why they decided to venture into the business of chai
[12:49] The gaps they noticed from other chai vendors and shops in India and abroad
[14:24] Where Project Chaiwala got its name from
[16:46] How Project Chaiwala started from a popup concept to the first flagship store in Cinema Akil
[17:45] Challenges of starting and running a few popups
[22:00] Who they hired first on their team
[24:36] How they were able to become successful and expand despite having no formal background in the F&B industry
[28:11] What they would have done differently if they were to go back in time
[29:22] Their plans prior to COVID and how it enabled them to have more of an online presence
[30:56] The decision-making process and the importance of being aligned from the very beginning
[33:13] Why decisiveness and agility play a key role in being a successful business
[35:43] What would happen to Project Chaiwala if they were not each other’s Cofounders
[37:53] What the future looks like for Project Chaiwala
[39:35] The role technology had to play in the business in the wake of the pandemic
[43:11] What being an elevated entrepreneur means to Justin and Ahmed


07:08The key thing for us was we understood the product, because we liked it, but also, we understood the culture and we aligned on what we wanted to do with it.” – Justin Joseph

19:56 “It was always exciting, and it’s always challenging. If you wanna build a brand, that’s the price you pay, but it is excitement, it’s not like a negative challenge, it’s a very positive challenge, you do get stressed but its positive stress. I think its perspective, the way you look at it, this is a very healthy thing that we have, we don’t put ourselves down. – Ahmed Kazim


31:58 “Part of the entire chain and that’s what we set out to do, it’s very difficult to have a big impact if you just do it on short term goals. It’s always a long term that’s what we strive for.” – Ahmed Kazim


 42:10 “We always wanna get better with data – whether it’s pricing, offering, ambience, etc., and how do you satisfy that customer. The customer is always our priority, and on the other hand, what’s also a priority for us is our own people.” – Ahmed Kazim


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  • Episode Transcript
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