Tax breaks for angel investors have cropped up in recent years in about two dozen states as a means of stimulating job growth. But the effectiveness of the incentives-which range from breaks on 15% of funding in Colorado to 100% in Hawaii-are coming under greater scrutiny, particularly as states face budget pressure.
In our second episode of HomeGrown: Exhibitor Profiles, we meet Brook Eddy, founder of Bhakti Chai, based out of Boulder, CO. Heather Smith asks about the story of Bhakti Chai and how preparations are going for their first year at Expo West.
Must be something in the Eldorado Natural Spring Water: Just look at the list of household-name, innovative, healthy-gourmet companies started or based here: Celestial Seasonings, Bhakti Chai, Silk, Horizon, Seth Ellis Chocolatier, Justin’s, and more. And we’re among the towns chosen by Ann Cooper—America’s Jamie Oliver—to pilot salad bars and other healthy foods in public-school cafeterias, drawing in Boulder chefs like Bradford Heap of Salt bistro to cook for kids.
As a fast-growing company, Bhakti Chai will continue to expand in the coming year with more hiring and greater distribution, said owner Brook Eddy, adding that the new location is central to the company’s focus.
Here’s the magic secret about trends and branding: If you have the foresight or good fortune to tap into a strong trend and establish your brand early, you’re likely to strike pay dirt. This is especially true when the name of your company is the name of the trend, as with Bhakti Chai, the “Starbucks®” drink of the Yoga community.
To get shop owners to put the product on the menu board, Bhakti needed a way to differentiate, so it offered inexpensive purchase materials for the register and counter areas. These were vital in educating consumers about the product. These little counter signs changed the way people ordered chai in Colorado by getting them to ask for the product by name.
During a tough financial period, entrepreneur Brook Eddy recalls having her mailman on speed dial, because she was desperate to get her hands on any outstanding checks from clients. This year her business is set to reach nearly $2 million in sales and is pushing toward national distribution for its spicy tea drinks.
The recipe for Bhakti Chai was created almost entirely out of necessity. Company founder and CEO Brook Eddy had returned home to Boulder after a months-long spiritual trip to India (where the tea is the caffeinated drink of choice), and she couldn’t find anyone who knew how to make a proper, Indian-style chai.
When Brook Eddy first came to Mumbai in 2002 to study the spiritual movement Swadhayay, which promotes devotion through social action, “chai” was something she happily sipped along her travels across India. But one day, says Eddy, she was served something called masala chai or “special” chai. “It really awoke my mind and taste buds. I love spices and this spice elixir spoke to my constitution, and seemed to nudge and inspire me,” says this post-graduate in social policy and non-profit management from the University of Michigan.
It turns out that, along with having fit, smart, and eco-conscious citizens, Boulder is home to a number of innovative food companies (Celestial Seasonings, Izze Beverage Company, and Bhakti Chai), several top-tier restaurants, and one of the best farmers’ markets in the country.