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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Social commerce startup NE Origins sells over 1,000 regional food products

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NE Origins, situated in Sikkim, was founded in 2021 and provides real food products from the
Northeastern states throughout India. Rewaj Chettri, a serial entrepreneur, launched the ecommerce
platform as his second significant firm.
Rewaj, a 2018 Forbes Asia 30 under 30 fellow, launched NE Taxi, a tourist taxi aggregator in the region,
when he was 19 years old.
In addition, he has worked on a number of small businesses, including the podcast company NE Talks,
the music app Cisum, the hyperlocal laundry service Washer, the delivery service Chitto, Sikkim Ventures
— a micro-investment, promotion, branding, and accounting firm — and the photography platform Go
During the COVID-19 epidemic, Rewaj realized that product entrepreneurs from the Northeastern states
were reliant on physical events like as street fairs to promote their wares.
“That used to be their core market,” adds Rewaj, who is well-connected in the entrepreneurial world of
Northeast India.
Naga King Chilli (the world’s third hottest chilli) from Nagaland, black rice from Manipur, Darjeeling Tea,
Lakadong turmeric from Meghalaya, and Nagaland forest honey are among these items.
Despite having Geographical Indications (GI) labels, many products are not sold in offline retailers across
the country.
Rewaj understood the difficulties and resolved to fix them by founding NE Origins, a social commerce
firm, after previously bootstrapping a logistics startup in the region while working for NE Taxi.
Simultaneously, he made contact with Anuj Sharma, Founder and CEO of ALSiSAR IMPACT, a Mumbai-
based transaction advisory firm focused on impact investing in South Asia.
“He came to Gangtok, and over coffee, we discussed what we were constructing, what we were doing,
and what he does?”
“That’s when we discovered a synergy,” Rewaj explains.

Soon after, Anuj joined NE Origins as a co-founder, and the two focused on expanding and scaling the
idea rather than making it a pandemic-only solution. Anuj once posted on LinkedIn about the region’s
“The Northeast has long struggled with the issue of’missing small and medium companies (SMEs)’ led by
Although there are several attempts to empower micro-entrepreneurship, these are not long-term
endeavors, effectively misleading entrepreneurs who are given hope but then abandoned after making
initial gains, with no effort made to help them move out and develop into a SME.”
NE Origins has currently onboarded over 350 SMEs with over 1000 SKUs that sell their products on the
platform across India.
“After the first few months of operations,” Rewaj explains, “we now understand the difficulty of why
these items were unable to break into the general market.”
These products are sold locally and do not require proper packaging or license.
As a result, Rewaj desired to transition from a marketplace model to a single (direct-to-consumer) D2C
business model.
As a direct-to-consumer organization, NE Origins may assist producers and manufacturers with product
packaging and sales by co-branding with various vendors after obtaining the appropriate licenses.
Rewaj explains, “The reason the products aren’t being purchased is because they haven’t been
evaluated. There is certification in place,” Rewaj says, referring to a problem he has now aggressively
pursued. Furthermore, NE Origins has worked with a few companies for product warehousing and
packaging. We aim to build a value chain for Northeast products,”
The startup seeks to help micro-entrepreneurs throughout eight states while also converting over
40,000 regional SMEs. It currently has 16 members on its team.
Rewaj’s long-term goal is to transform the Northeast region into a “net producer economy,” creating job
opportunities and expanding the region’s “unique heritage” through the expansion of SMEs.
Last month, the firm raised a pre-seed investment round at a record $2 million value, nine months after
its establishment, and recruited Indian footballer Baichung Bhatia as an investor.
NE Origins now competes with a few regional brands that offer restricted items, such as Zizira in
Meghalaya, Hill Wild in Manipur, and Korangani Tea in Assam.


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