CupShup aims to treble its revenue to ₹12 crore by end of FY19 - 20
Sidharth Singh, Co-Founder & Sanil Jain, Co-Founder, CupShup (L-R)CupShup
The agency that started out with a simple idea of branding tea cups, CupShup is now all set to clock ₹12 crore this fin...
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CupShup aims to treble its revenue to ₹12 crore by end of FY19 - 20

The agency that started out with a simple idea of branding tea cups, CupShup is now all set to clock ₹12 crore this fin...
  • The agency that started out with a simple idea of branding tea cups, CupShup is now all set to clock ₹12 crore this financial year
  • 50% of its revenue will come from activation services, 35% from cup branding and the rest 15% from creative and digital services
  • Sanil Jain, Co-founder of CupShup, tells us the potential a cup of tea hold, struggles of starting up a disruptive brand with low investments, and the plan ahead
Around 100 billion cups get consumed in India every year and Chai break in an intrinsic part of our culture. People talk, discuss, debate, and analyse things over a cup of tea. Cups also cater to different social strata and have the advantage of being comfortably placed in the customer's hand for a good five to seven minutes. Hence, CupShup saw every non-branded cup as a wasted opportunity for consumer engagement.

‘It’s hard not to observe our chai cups -- because a chai is an emotion that we all love and bond over,’ says Sanil Jain, Co-founder, CupShup.

And it was at a Chai Tapri that Jain and Sidharth Singh, the two Co-founders of CupShup, decided to convert ‘A Cup’ into ‘The Cup’. They were struggling to come up with an idea for their college project and that’s when they had their eureka moment.

“The idea dawned on Sidharth. He asked me, 'What if we brand these plain paper cups and convert the tea breaks into discussion joints for brands?' Post that, we had a chat about movies and politics for about 15 minutes. It came to our mind that we just spent 15 minutes of our quality time which was relaxed, clutter-free, and the environment was fun-filled. This was a perfect place or medium where a brand would want to promote itself,” recalls Jain.

The startup aims to convert these 10-15 minutes of tea breaks into an opportunity for brands to get attention from their target audience and be part of their daily, relaxed conversations.

While Jain immediately realized the potential behind this idea, the next toughest step was testing it out with minimum investment.

“Since it was very difficult to get a small number of cups custom-printed, Sidharth bought around 100 cups, added stickers of a nearby restaurant on them with an offer and distributed it to the nearby chai tapris. He later interviewed around 50 odd people at the tapris and found himself surprised by the result of the product validation survey -- it was fantastic. Almost all of the people he spoke to were able to recall the brand and the offer on the cup, when aided. Thus, we established our idea has the potential and brands will be attracted towards this unique method of promotion,” shares Jain.

CupShup bootstrapped itself and used a sum of ₹1 lakh, each founder contributed a half, into hiring a team, building the infrastructure, launching an application, and establishing a distribution system. It was after its first campaign with Ola that CupShup turned into a profitable company and that opportunity spearheaded its growth ahead. Since then, CupShup has been able to grow organically to a team of 50 people -- based in Mumbai, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.

Services Offered

CupShup offers Cup Branding, Activations, Corporate Branding, Creative Services and Digital Marketing, among others. For the current financial year, Jain says, 50% of its revenues will come from activation services, 35% from Cup branding and the rest 15% from Creative and Digital services.

So far, CupShup has seen more than 150 clients including Amazon, Uber, Ola, Unilever, SBI, Kotak, ICICI, Swiggy, Dunzo, HotStar, Marico, Coke, Zomato, OYO Rooms, Grofers, Pocket Aces, Viacom, TVF, ZEE.

The agency recently concluded a campaign with Hotstar for their web-series, ‘The Office’, for which it distributed 25 lakhs paper cups with nine humorously designed creatives, each with a witty designation aimed to strike light conversations inside offices.
CupShup aims to treble its revenue to ₹12 crore by end of FY19 - 20

While the team has worked with brands across sectors, start-ups remain their favourite.

“Be it FMCG, BFSI, Entertainment, we have worked with them all. However, clients who are most receptive and open to experimenting are start-ups. While established clients make our offerings part of their 360 degree campaigns, new age brands and start-ups not just use our medium but also use our services in media planning, buying and creatives. Other than Cup Branding, they are also eager to explore our other offerings like Digital Screens and corporate activations,” said Jain.

Challenges of Starting Up

CupShup only had a lakh to set the ball rolling. While finding good talent was a task with limited infrastructure, convincing corporates was not a cakewalk either.

“Initially, offices in corporate parks were reluctant to give us entry into their buildings as they were skeptical about the quality of paper being used by us. However, with time they are aware of the fact that we only use water based ink on our biodegradable and recyclable paper cups. This helped us understand their concerns and in accessing the office cubicles with ease,” said Jain.

To spread the word around and get more attention from their client, CupShup reached out to various start-up specific news portals and networking events. Jain also sent a monthly newsletter to their client base to update them about CupShup’s work progress. Slowly, as CupSup started working with bigger brands, its communication strategy broadened to entire marketing and advertising community.

Expanding its Call-to-Action

Clients only look out for end results and measurable outcomes. So what kind of ROI does CupShup offer?

“While most of the established brands use our medium as part of their 360-degree campaigns focused on grabbing eyeballs and building brand recalls, many new age brands and start-ups use our services to acquire new users and drive App downloads, and transactions as well. Since a tea break allows a brand exposure time of 5-7 minutes, we also use call-to action methods like QR codes, Missed Call to SMS and so on, for lead generation. But yes, this method of branding grabs attention, drives a positive ROI and triggers a conversation,” answers Jain.

Plan Ahead

After a smooth run in FY 2018-19 with ₹4.5 crore in Revenues, CupShup is now projected to clock ₹12 crore this financial year on the back of its strong clientele.

CupShup is now scaling its network, activation services, and ramping up the creative services portfolio. It is also working on a digital product, which is slated to go live early next year. While Jain did not share the name or idea behind it, he said their product will ‘aim at revolutionising the way digital marketing is done in India.’