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Episode 13: The setback

By March 2021, things were beginning to look up for Got Tea – the team had carved a space for themselves in the Delhi market, and were beginning to gain a lot of recognition. Things were looking good! Got Tea had its most successful weekend, to date, on 10-11 April. They had brought back their fried chicken for that weekend and many excited customers dropped by (including me!). They had finally started to gain momentum, and they were excited for the future. 

Until the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, and it hit Delhi hard. The steep rise in cases daily meant that the government had to take quick action, which included weekend curfews and then ultimately a city-wide lockdown. And with the sudden announcements, the Got Tea team did not have much time to figure out their next steps. 

Armaan, Jo and YuSung at the store, before the lockdown

They had a difficult time getting passes from the Delhi government to remain open and operational during the curfew, and the store had to remain closed for over a week. And all around, the news was dire – the healthcare system crumbled under the overwhelming number of cases coming in, and it was a scary situation for all. The Got Tea team, like the rest of the city, felt helpless. For the founders, the safety of the staff was most important, so they asked the staff to take some time off, while they re-convened and re-organized their plan of action. 

During the time that the store was closed, the founders discussed their vision of the company and evaluated how things were going. They realized that they were operating more as a store rather than an overall company, and so they did some internal restructuring. Jo was put in charge of operations, Armaan of communications, technology and HR, and YuSung took on growth, marketing and finance. 

At this time, they also worked with Zomato and Swiggy on expanding their delivery options. During the lockdown, it became even more important that they focus on ensuring that their products could be delivered. They also worked with other local courier services to deliver their drinks and snacks beyond the Zomato and Swiggy radius, so that they could serve as many people as possible. 

The store is now open for takeaway and delivery, and the team has taken the utmost care to ensure that they are maintaining health and safety standards, while retaining their quality. Actually, the team even made a video about it, featuring YuSung in the lead!

As the pandemic continues to rage across the city, Got Tea is also thinking of ways in which they can support the community, especially essential workers, during this tough time. The team has started offering free drinks to the delivery persons that work long and hard to get their food and drinks to the customers across the city. It is a small step, but they hope to keep working to play whatever small role they can in rebuilding from this wave of the pandemic. 

Got Tea making sure their delivery persons stay hydrated with some bubble tea

This journal is an ongoing series tracing the story of Got Tea, the latest bubble tea store launched in India, located in South Delhi. Want to know what happens next? Stay tuned – new episodes come out every week!