DesmondJi : An IITian moves from ‘high tech’ to ‘high spirits’!
What is the last unusual & fun start-up venture you’ve heard about, created by an IITian?
Here’s a candidate: an ‘out of left field’ alcobev company, Agave India, started by 1981 IITM alum, Desmond Nazareth (BTech, Mech), significantly backed by a core group of 20+ IIT & IIM angel investors, as well as several marquee Indian and international angels!
It all started when our amateur mixologist could not find his favorite Margarita ingredients when he ‘retired’ back to India from the US… in 2000! After ten years of background R&D, battling village, state & central government level bureaucratic obstacles with an anticorruption policy, and raising money quietly through the recent economic downturn – all done virtually single-handedly – our ‘never say die’ entrepreneur has come finally through!
His Goa-based boutique alcobev brand, “DesmondJi”, makes affordable, innovative premium international spirits, liqueurs and cocktail blends, to international standards, using Indian raw materials and indigenously developed equipment & processes. The company was registered in 2007 and first launched products in Apr 2011 in Goa.
All six DesmondJi products (see photo & box below) are currently available in Mumbai, Goa, Pondicherry, Daman, with Bangalore and Pune shortly to be added to the list. Other products and Indian cities will be added in due course. Even exports are on the cards!
This exciting start-up, using ‘waste from the waste-land’, has been generating WoM ‘buzz’ in India, and abroad, ever since it launched its agave spirits (Tequila® and Mezcal® are agave spirits made in Mexico and are GIs owned by the Mexican government); its Nagpur orange based liqueurs; and its easy-to-make alcoholic margarita blends. DesmondJi agave spirits are the only significant agave spirits made entirely outside of Mexico, field-to-bottle, with bluegreen agave harvested from the semi-arid wastelands of India’s Deccan Plateau!
With India’s first official ‘micro-distillery’, in rural AP near Bangalore and a blending and bottling facility in Goa, DesmondJi has come as a pleasant surprise in the standardized Indian context of high volume-low margin flavoured molasses-based ENA alcohols. DesmondJi agave spirit products are smooth and double-distilled, retaining the original natural flavors. The brand has signature designer bottles and packaging, and appears to be a media darling because it is backed by a rare and compelling ‘founder story’, with many ‘firsts’ to its credit. Hey, even the Mexican national press is writing about DesmondJi… as competition!
We request and encourage you, the global family of IITians, and your families and friends, to spread the word about the “DesmondJi” brand, products and story – and to try out, talk about and gift these unique products, around the world… proudly “Made in India”!!!
-As told by DesmondJi to iitstories