Starting and scaling up a kitchen robotics corporate appears simple however it in reality isn’t! High prices, scaling up with inventions and matching meals consistency throughout retailers are some of the slew of demanding situations protecting again maximum meals startups. Co-founded via Eshwar Okay Vikas and Sudeep Sabat in 2021, Mukunda Foods Private Limited, a kitchen robotics corporate, has been rolling out an leading edge pipeline comprising six merchandise which can be recently put in in over 2000 places.
Speaking to Financial Express Online, Eshwar Okay Vikas stocks their early struggles as aspiring marketers, “My friend and roommate Sudeep Sabat and I decided to build McDonalds of Indian Food. We started with our first QSR under brand Mukunda to serve south Indian staple food like Dosa and Idli. The response was pretty encouraging, and we started scaling it up, but matching food consistency across the outlet became a nightmare for us. We started burning cash instead of making profits. Since both of us were engineers at the core, we decided to look for a solution to it, and in this process, we built our machines to cook food automatically at our outlets, leading to the birth of Automation in our outlets. We currently have automated 6-7 global cuisines.”
How Mukunda Foods Rose From Entrepreneurial Struggles
Currently, Mukunda Foods has rolled out computerized processes for a couple of cuisines like Chinese Foods, Indian Gravies, South Indian Food, Snacks, Pizza, and Biryani.
The adventure may sound simple however it obviously wasn’t for the 2 engineering graduates whose imaginative and prescient was once to ‘build Mcdonalds of Indian food’.
While there was once all the time a necessity for automation in industrial kitchens, there have been reservations from meals trade homeowners and cooks.
However, Mukunda Foods co-founder Eshwar Okay Vikas feels that the Pandemic modified the entirety because the dire scenario ended in increasingly cloud kitchens, amidst considerations associated with professional team of workers and hard work as a result of the problem of migration. Further, making sure hygiene and protection changed into a best precedence for trade homeowners.
With COVID-19 paving the best way for a brand new standard, the entire state of affairs made automation much more related within the kitchen house, and in flip, other people changed into extra receptive to technological developments. Since there aren’t many gamers within the phase, this certainly labored in Mukunda’s desire.
“Initially, we would visit multiple shops to understand what fits and what doesn’t. We would struggle for funds after all; we were still pursuing our engineering. We would need to talk to food Entrepreneurs and chefs to understand the real challenge etc. This process made us realize that not just us, many food entrepreneurs, need such a solution. From there, we became a kitchen automation solution provider. We would finish college at 4 PM and head out to the industrial market to scout for parts for the machines, spend late into the nights at factories (we rented their night shift, so it’s cheaper) to build the machines,” informs Eshwar Okay Vikas.
The corporate takes round a yr to increase each and every product with painstaking consideration to element.
From the conceptualization degree to getting it in a position at the ground, all of the procedure additionally will pay particular consideration to cooks as they ‘bring the art into the machines while we bring the Science’, Mukunda Foods co-founder issues out. In his phrases, “While we convey the science, the chef tells us what must be performed. We are all the time interested by how a lot intensity a chef has to help in making the machines higher. “
What cleared the path for a stint in production leading edge merchandise utilized in many eating places?
We began the use of the machines in our retailers, however we quickly noticed many eating place homeowners drawing near us to shop for the machines. We then understood that making meals was once one thing a large number of manufacturers had been suffering with. They would have consistency problems as they scaled; they’d get proceedings that their Hyderabad outlet was once higher than the Bangalore outlet. We discovered that the trade was once in determined want of an answer, and in us, they discovered our merchandise fairly useful. Hence, we pivoted from promoting meals to promoting machines.
Our imaginative and prescient changed into to assist marketers scale speedy & profitably the use of Automation.
And after having a large number of interactions with trade professionals and cooks, we understood that as a rule, their demanding situations are cuisine-specific.
For instance, tossing Chinese meals may no longer sound like a tedious task, however it calls for professional hard work. The attrition fee is simply too top within the F&B products and services trade, so we set to work on an answer for that; Wokie is a strategy to those demanding situations, and it will possibly cook dinner any toss-based recipes as consistent with the usual Sops.
Similarly, Eco-Fryers solves the issue of underneath and over-frying fried pieces.
When you based a kitchen robotics corporate, what roadblocks did you face, how did you take on it, and what key takeaways have taught you a large number about surviving and maintaining a trade like this?
Building any product from scratch, particularly if it’s one thing distinctive, calls for no longer simply finances however the appropriate set of human sources and making plans. Our center of attention was once to construct answers that don’t seem to be expensive affairs for the purchasers, and we believed in development functionally environment friendly merchandise; therefore not one of the merchandise are/had been humanoid or robots.
Instead, we set to work on co-bot apparatus that handles repetitive duties like tossing and stirring on the proper time and correct temperature, and tThis is helping us promote merchandise on the proper value level.
To make this occur, we would have liked individuals who understood the trade and applied sciences neatly, and being a start-up, we had our boundaries. So, we went forward and onboarded nice minds from R&D-focused organizations like Mahindra, Volvo, Toyota, GE, Bosch, HAL, and the group additionally had younger fans who shared our imaginative and prescient.
While many corporations may make a prototype, making machines at scale & bringing within the reliability of the goods required a large number of iteration & onerous paintings. As the eating place is determined by our machines for his or her survival, we needed to be doubly positive to make machines that paintings like a workhorse. We constructed trying out jigs to run lacs of cycles, introduced in provide chain professionals & did a world hunt for the ceremony food-friendly parts, so there is not any contamination.
Tell us extra about your merchandise – who’s it for, how do you intend to scale it up, particularly as you began R&D gadgets from scratch?
We had been blessed to have some companions who perceive the potential for Automation at industrial kitchens. They would assist us with the actual issues they face, and in combination we might finally end up spending hours and days to grasp the basis reason and implications.
Then, our R&B group begins creating an answer for it. Since those are on a regular basis issues confronted via the F&B companies, we will be able to serve many purchasers, serving to us scale.
What roughly beef up have you ever gained or be expecting from the Govt and the Hospitality Industry?
We have gained beef up from TIFAC (a part of DST) for commercializing the inventions. It’s a comfortable mortgage.
The trade and quite a lot of organizations like NRAI and culinary organizations have all the time been supportive folks. They ceaselessly prepare occasions to teach their individuals about our inventions.
What is your plan to turn into a torchbearer in kitchen robotics, and what formidable plans and inventions are you gearing up for?
We are having a look at increasing product portfolio enlargement but additionally geographical enlargement.
On the product entrance, With F&B companies back-ending their flatbreads, Patties, and Parathas into frozen meals, there’s a dire want for an answer that may regenerate or reheat those meals pieces into their authentic style. So, our subsequent innovation, E-pan, is to deal with those necessities, and we plan to convey it to marketplace via the tip of this quarter.
We also are aggressively penetrating world markets in Australia, Canada, United States, and the United Kingdom since they’ve first rate call for for operationally environment friendly answers for Asian Foods.
In addition to this, Mukunda Foods lately ventured into KAAS (Kitchen As A Service). With KAAS, we allow manufacturers to increase their cloud kitchens to a brand new location with a complete operation kitchen provided with computerized apparatus at 0 CAPEX and 0 manpower. Our first kitchen simply were given reside, and is making plans to have round 50 kitchens via the tip of this yr.