Sama Co-Founders on using AI for the company’s tea selections


Sama Co-Founders Jay Shetty and Radhi Devlukia-Shetty, join Yahoo Finance to discuss the inspiration behind starting Sama tea, the use of AI to create the all-natural teas, the rise in plant-based foods, and mental wellness amid the pandemic.

Video Transcript


Welcome back. Life coach, best-selling author, and former monk, Jay Shetty, is leveraging his 48 million social media followers to help launch a new tea brand with his wife, chef Radhi Devlukia-Shetty. And I am delighted to have them both here on the show. Jay and Radhi, thanks so much for being here.

JAY SHETTY: Thank you so much for having us. We are so grateful to be here.

So I know the tea is called Sama. There was a wait list even before it hit the market. Tell us what inspired this tea brand and what’s included in the launch.

JAY SHETTY: Absolutely. Well, what inspired it was our collective love for tea. I had my own experiences of tea. I remember when my mom would come and pick me up after daycare from school. And whenever we’d go home, just before dinner, we’d have a cup of tea together. And I realized when I was growing up, my parents were busy. They were working. They were immigrants. But they always found time through tea. So that became equated with energy and presence for me. And

Radhi’s family– when I started dating Radhi and spending time with their family, her family was obsessed with tea after every single meal. And so we decided to use her expertise and her passion for herbs and ingredients and my desire to want to share something that could help people be mindful and present and combine it to create Sama.

So Radhi, I understand you’re using artificial intelligence to actually kick it up a notch and disrupt the tea business. How are you doing that with the help of AI?

RADHI DEVLUKIA-SHETTY: Yeah, so it’s such an incredible system where it basically collates all the information that is accessible online from consumers, and what they share, and their feedback, and it’s really helped inform us on the flavors that we use to the functionalities that people are looking for within teas. And so it really helped us decide exactly what was going into the teas and what people actually want.

It’s one thing creating things for yourself and another thing creating things that you know there’s a need for and a market for. So that’s honestly how it helped us and it’s been phenomenal.

JAY SHETTY: I want to add as well though, that Radhi’s really been the person who’s known what to blend and create and put them together. And then we put that out there. And you know, I think Radhi has this incredible talent and gift of knowing what will taste better, even before it’s tested. And so I feel like the AI was following her.

RADHI DEVLUKIA-SHETTY: And the AI really confirmed what we wanted. We created an adaptogenic tea. And that’s quite new information for a lot of people. But it showed us that adaptogens are coming up and adaptogens are something people want to know more about. And so it really confirmed to us that what we want to put out there is going to be well-received.

And Radhi, you are a chef, a plant-based chef. I know you helped create a menu at a London-based restaurant. What’s your take on the rise we’re seeing and demand for plant based food, and lots of you popular chains, including Burger King and McDonald’s, now adding them to the menu?

RADHI DEVLUKIA-SHETTY: I honestly think it is so beautiful. I remember traveling as a child. I grew up vegetarian. And it was so limiting in terms of the foods that we could eat around the world. And now I think it’s so wonderful that people are given the option in so many different places.

And education is done in that way. Like people are educated on things when they see it regularly. And so I actually think it’s phenomenal that even chains like Burger King and McDonald’s are having burgers and alternative options for people who are so used to having a meat-based diet.

I want to just switch gears here for a moment and talk about what we’ve all been going through, or what many of us have been going through throughout this pandemic, and that’s a heightened level of anxiety. It’s serious for some others with depression. There’s a new study I found– 42% of Americans experiencing some kind of mild psychological distress during this time. Jay, what have you been doing? What have you both been doing to stay mentally fit during this time?

JAY SHETTY: Well, first of all, I just want to take a moment to share with anyone– if anyone’s been struggling with anything mentally, that it’s absolutely normal and expected. We all went through something in the last 18 months that no one could have predicted, no one could have expected, and no one could have been prepared for.

So I just want to take a moment to make sure that we’re not judging ourselves or making ourselves feel guilty. I think that’s a really important practice and habit. And actually, when the pandemic first began, I was live every single day on Instagram and Facebook and teaching meditation to anyone who wanted to join. And it was absolutely free and available to everyone.

And over 40 days, we had over 20 million people tune in and take part in a live meditation. So that’s my personal practice. But I also wanted to share that practice. I couldn’t be a front line worker. I couldn’t be someone who could go and help someone in a hospital. That’s not my strength and expertise.

But I wanted to see if I could support people in their healing journeys and dealing with their resilience. So my personal practice for well-being includes meditation. And I was happy to share that with the world.

RADHI DEVLUKIA-SHETTY: And for me, honestly, I always used to think mindfulness had to be something that you sit away and your practice. But what I quickly realized was that mindfulness is something that can be part of your lifestyle throughout the day. It’s all about being present in the moment. And usually anxiety comes when your mind is in a different space to your physical body.

And so really, whether it is taking a moment to yourself and breathing in fresh air or doing breath work during the day– that for me, being away from my family during the pandemic was something that, for this long, I hadn’t experienced before in my life. And, you not being there for them was really difficult for me.

And breath work was what really helped me through those moments of feeling like I was not in control. It really helped just make me feel a lot more grounded in the moment. And that was my practice throughout the pandemic, whenever I felt quite anxious.

Yeah. That’s great advice. Being in the moment can sometimes really work wonders. And this is for both of you. And if you can answer– we’re running out of time a little bit, but I’d love to know– I mean, look, you’ve built careers based on your passions. What’s your advice for our viewers that are looking to do the same thing, Jay?

JAY SHETTY: Yeah, the first thing I’d say is that you don’t need to take a big leap or a big jump. It all starts with really small steps. Don’t stress yourself out about having to change your career or quickly stop something and start something. Take small steps towards your passion. Just take that first step, actually. That’s all you need to think about.

And the second thing I’d say is, be really aware of the path that you’re about to take. Be really prepared for it. Find coaches. Find mentors. Find people who are maybe one of three years ahead on the journey who can help guide you and assist you so that you can be aware of the roadblocks and the pitfalls that are naturally going to coming your way and you can avoid some of those things.

All right. We’re going to have to leave it there. Jay Shetty and Radhi Shetty, thanks so much–

RADHI DEVLUKIA-SHETTY: Thank you as well.

–for being with us. We appreciate your insights. And best of luck with the tea.