Rajat Luthra, Previously the CEO of KFC India Becomes the CEO at Third Wave Coffee

Third wave coffee coffee logo

Three points you will get to know in this article:

  • Rajat Luthra appointed as CEO, succeeding Sushant Goel.
  • Third Wave Coffee expands to 100 outlets across India.
  • Series C funding secured, leading to restructuring and workforce reduction.
Rajat Luthra KFC CEO

About the Third Wave Coffee

The Third Wave Coffee movement is a marketing trend focusing on high-quality coffee emphasizing the distinctive flavors of individual farms and lighter roasting. The term ‘third-wave coffee’ is generally attributed to Trish Rothgeb and has been documented in publications like The New York Times, LA Weekly, and The Guardian. The term was coined in 1999, but the concept originated in the 1970s, with roasters like the Coffee Connection contributing to the approach. It is alluded to the three waves of feminism and is associated with the concept of ‘specialty coffee.’

Leadership Transition Announcement

Rajat Luthra on board as its fresh CEO. Rajat Luthra, who previously helmed KFC India and Nepal, steps into this new role with enthusiasm. This announcement, made on Monday (March 18), signals a significant shift in leadership within the startup. Sushant Goel, the current CEO, will gracefully transition into a new position as a member of the board during the first quarter of fiscal year 2025.

Acknowledgment of Founders and Milestones

Since its establishment in 2016 by Goel, Ayush Bathwal, and Anirudh Sharma, Third Wave Coffee has steadily expanded its footprint and now proudly boasts 100 outlets across India. In the official statement, the startup expressed its gratitude towards Goel, emphasizing his continued involvement in shaping the company’s strategic vision and pioneering fresh initiatives.

Speaking about this transition, Goel shared his excitement for the brand’s forthcoming growth journey. He expressed eagerness to contribute further to the company’s vision and expansion from a different perspective, now as a board member. This shift signifies a new chapter for Third Wave Coffee, ripe with potential and opportunity for continued success. Luthra has around thirty years of experience in the FMCG and QSR industries. He has served as the CEO of KFC in India and Nepal for over a decade.

Supportive Investor Backing

The restructuring takes place following Third Wave Coffee’s successful Series C funding round, where they raised $35 million from private equity firm Creaegis and existing investors such as WestBridge Capital and Udaan co-founder Sujeet Kumar.

In a joint statement, Westbridge Capital and Creaegis conveyed their confidence in Sushant’s transition to his new role on the board. They are optimistic that his guidance and strategic insights will continue to drive the company towards even greater success. With Sushant’s ongoing support and under Rajat’s leadership, the company is poised to explore new opportunities and achieve unprecedented levels of growth.

Competitive Landscape Analysis

In the competitive landscape of the coffee industry, Third Wave Coffee is facing competition from well-known brands like Blue Tokai, Slay Coffee, Starbucks, and Tim Hortons. Additionally, as an FMCG brand, it also competes with direct-to-consumer coffee brands such as Rage Coffee and Sleepy Owl. Recently, Third Wave Coffee underwent a restructuring phase which led to the departure of around 10% of its workforce following its last fundraising round a few months ago.

Third Wave Coffee has undergone a significant leadership transition with the appointment of Rajat Luthra as its new CEO, succeeding Sushant Goel who will transition to a board position. The startup’s growth journey, from its establishment in 2016 to expanding to 100 outlets across India, reflects its steady progress. The successful Series C funding and investor confidence in Sushant’s transition mark an optimistic outlook for the company’s future under Rajat’s leadership. However, amidst its accomplishments, Third Wave Coffee faces competition from established and direct-to-consumer coffee brands. This transition, accompanied by recent restructuring and workforce reduction, signifies a new chapter for Third Wave Coffee, aligned with the potential for continued success and unprecedented growth.

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