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Third Wave Coffee appoints former KFC India head Rajat Luthra as new CEO

Vivek Vishwakarma
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Third Wave Coffee appoints former KFC India head Rajat Luthra as new CEO

Bengaluru-based Third Wave Coffee, a prominent player in the Indian coffee quick service restaurant (QSR) sector, has announced a significant change in its leadership.

Rajat Luthra, who has extensive experience in the fast-manufacturing consumer goods (FMCG) and QSR sectors, including over a decade as CEO of KFC India and Nepal, has been named the new CEO, effective April 1, 2024.

Sushant Goel steps down

Sushant Goel, the current CEO and co-founder of Third Wave Coffee, will be stepping down from his role to join the company's board. Goel, along with co-founders Ayush Bathwal and Anirudh Sharma, has been instrumental in scaling the company from its inception in 2016 to over 100 outlets across India.


Under his leadership, Third Wave Coffee expanded its footprint and secured significant funding, including a recent $35 million in Series C funding from Creaegis and existing investor Westbridge Capital.

Investors express confidence 

“As Sushant transitions to his new role on the board, we are confident that his guidance and strategic insights will continue to steer us towards even greater success. We also warmly welcome Rajat Luthra, who has rich experience with QSRs at scale, and are excited about the fresh perspective and leadership he will bring to the table," Westbridge Capital and Creaegis said in a joint statement.

Luthra's appointment comes as Third Wave Coffee is poised for further expansion and is competing with local and international coffee giants.

Strategic shifts and challenges

The leadership transition occurs amidst a competitive landscape, with Third Wave Coffee vying against established brands like Starbucks and emerging D2C coffee brands. The startup, which started as a roastery in Bengaluru's Koramangala, has grown significantly, competing in a market that has seen substantial venture capital interest in specialty coffee chains.

However, it also faces challenges, including a recent restructuring exercise that resulted in the layoff of around 10% of its workforce.

What does Third Wave Coffee do?

Founded in 2017 by Ayush Bathwal, Anirudh Sharma, and Sushant Goel, Third Wave Coffee has rapidly expanded its footprint, operating over 100 stores across major Indian cities, including Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, and Pune.