After Dosamatic, Mukunda Foods is making more robots that can make a variety of food items
The feeling of joy and satisfaction one gets when complimented for making a tasty dish is unexplainable. But imagine a machine making yummy dosas and you claiming credit for it!
It may be possible with Dosamatic¬the world’s first counter-top dosa making machine–developed by two friends Eshwar K Vikas and Sudeep Sabat when they were in college.
Eshwar K Vikas (above), along with Sudeep Sabat developed a dosa making machine while they were in college and later co-founded Mukunda Foods, a Kitchen Robotics company
Mukunda Foods Pvt. Ltd, the company the duo co-founded in 2014 has clocked a turnover of Rs. 6 crore in just two years and their machine is now being used in hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, schools, college canteens, and even by the BSF and DRDO (Defence and Research Development Organisation).
The commercial machine, which is currently priced at Rs. 1.5 lakh, can make 50 to 60 dosas per hour and can work continuously for 14 hours. All one has to do is add the dosa batter, oil and water in the respective containers and select the size and thickness of the dosa as required (between 1mm and 7 mm).
So far, they have sold 500 machines, with 60 per cent of the sales coming from India, and the rest from 16 countries including the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, France, Germany, Sri Lanka, Dubai and Myanmar.
The first unit was sold to a restaurant at Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. “We were surprised to get an order from as far as Rishikesh in the north. The hotel placed their order in 2013 and we delivered the machine in 2014,” says Eshwar, CEO of Mukunda Foods.
Eshwar, who is a foodie himself, came up with the idea of making an automatic dosa maker while doing his graduation in electrical and electronics engineering at SRM University in Chennai.
Dosamatic can roll out 50 to 60 dosas per hour and can continuously work for 14 hours
Fond of dosas, Eshwar realised that one could never get those crispy, paper-thin dosas found in Chennai in other parts of the country. In 2011, at the end of his first year in college, he and his classmate Sudeep decided to build a prototype of the dosa machine.
The youngsters received some financial help from their family, but the project required more funds, which they raised seizing every opportunity that came their way and even working part-time.
At the college fest, Eshwar set up a food stall and sold vadapav and jal jeera – both being a rarity in Chennai. With no money to buy ingredients for making the dishes, Eshwar invested a small amount to print food coupons and sold it in the campus.
“Though the vadapav was priced at Rs. 15, I sold the coupons by offering the same at Rs. 10 if any student bought five coupons before the fest. Thus I sold all the coupons and not only made money to buy the ingredients, but also made a profit of Rs. 15,000,” says Eshwar with a smile.
Both Eshwar and Sudeep also worked part-time after college hours in their second year at a company in Chennai for a stipend of Rs. 5,000 a month.
While Eshwar worked as executive assistant to the CEO for 11 months, Sudeep worked as lead market researcher for three months.
They also saved from the cash prizes won at design contests conducted in various colleges and saved around Rs. 3 lakh to make the first prototype in 2012. The duo then approached a street- side idli shop near their college and struck a deal with the owner.
Mukunda Foods has capacity to make 70 to 80 commercial machines a month
“During weekends, we transported the heavy machine from our college to the shop and let the owner make dosas with it.
“He would sell around 100 to 150 dosas at Rs. 20 each. He would pay us Rs. 5 for every dosa he sold,” says Eshwar.
“The machine was tested for four months at this idly shop. People enjoyed the dosas and there were no complaints on the quality and taste.
“Our next challenge was to reduce the weight of the machine from 150 kg to 60 kg and make it into a table-top machine, which could be easily transported in an auto-rickshaw,” says Eshwar.
After seeing their prototype, Alastair, a mechanical engineering dropout, joined the team and worked with them for nine months.
“Our machine initially made only 10 to 20 dosas. After Alastair fine-tuned the machine, it made 100 dosas continuously. We will never forget the value he added to our prototype. He came like an angel, did his part, and moved on to build a dirt bike in Dubai, ”recalls Eshwar.
The start-up received a funding of Rs.1.5 crore from Indian Angel Network (IAN) when they were in their final year of engineering in 2013.
Eshwar with his R&D team head Rakesh G Patil
After the delivery of the first machine, which was priced at Rs. 1.2 lakh, there was no looking back. In 2014, they sold 100 machines within and outside the country.
“We are a Kitchen Robotics company working towards automating the process of food making,” says Sudeep COO of Mukunda Foods and the hardware expert in the team.
“Eshwar understands the food better and tells me how it has to be made, and I work on the machines towards making it,” he adds.
The R&D team at Mukunda Foods headed by Rakesh G Patil, another young engineer in his mid-20s, has developed a smaller version of Dosamatic for domestic use, which weighs less than 10 kg, and can also make pancakes, crepes and omelettes.
It will hit the market next year and will be priced at Rs. 12,500. They have also started to sell ready-to-use dosamix, fillings and chutneys, with a shelf life of between six and 12 months, under the brand name ‘Dosamatic Store.’
Under the brand name ‘Dosamatic Store’ the company has started to sell ready-to-use dosamix, fillings and chutneys
The instant mixes, which are 100 per cent organic, are available online on Big Basket and Grofers, and will soon be available at all modern retail chains and supermarkets across the country.
The company has also come out with prototypes of automatic samosa and curry making machines.
The founders are looking at raising Rs. 25 crore in the coming days under Series A funding to launch the domestic dosamatic machines. Considering the response from the market for their products, the company is aiming at clocking revenues of Rs. 100 crore during the next financial year.
This Article is Part of the ‘Super Startups’ Series