MyT (read as My Tea) is a unique start-up by young Indian Engineers. The purpose of this business is to make home-like Chai available outside homes. The tagline of this business is “Home Like Chai” that quite reflects the objective of this brilliant start-up. This business is all about a machine that prepares tasteful cup of Chai on demand. MyT Brewer is world’s first hardware device (patent pending) that makes Chai the traditional way by boiling natural ingredients and makes Chai with the taste that cannot be forgotten.
The story behind this start-up is quite amusing. The founders of MyT Brewer were not happy with the inconsistency & non-authenticity of Chai available outside homes. Chai not only tasted different but also far from authentic; sometimes prepared using tea bags or premixes, sometimes using coffee process and sometimes Chai that was pre-prepared and stored. One day they questioned why couldn’t there be a machine that can prepare authentic Chai just like it is prepared at home by using the same ingredients and process we use at home. So that customers get the exact taste every day.
How MyT Chai Brewer can help anyone is a good question. But the answer speaks about the fact that India is a country where most population enjoy a good & fresh cup of Chai and a good percentage of it comprises Chai lovers who can do anything for having a good cup of Chai. For such country, MyT Chai Brewer is more needed than ATM here. Finding a fresh and authentic cup of Chai becomes impossible outside homes and MyT is here to address make it possible.
MyT is an automated machine that uses android-based UI and is connected to internet. It prepares Chai on demand, uses natural ingredients (real masalas, fresh milk and CTC tea) and provides the exact same taste every time. MyT is beneficial for offices mainly where employees do not get a cup of good Chai to rejuvenate them and for F&B businesses that are looking to serve quality Chai to their customers. The founders would love to spread the real and hot Chai across India for Chai lovers. Gone are days when people use to complain about Chai. It is time to enjoy a fresh, boiled, hygienic, and variety of tasteful cup of Chai.
1. What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
MyT (read as MyTea). We kept this name because it reflects what MyT Brewer does – makes your kind of Chai
2. Who is your target Audience/clients?
Workplaces and F&B businesses
3. Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
Currently, we are present in Bengaluru only. In near future we plan to expand to other Indian cities.
4. What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
MyT aims to solve problem of non-availability of a good cup of Chai outside homes. MyT Brewer (patent pending) is world’s first hardware device that automates that traditional Chai making process and actually boils the natural ingredients to prepare a home-like Chai. A lot of thought has gone into designing MyT related to hygiene, quality, maintenance, reliability and product authenticity. Using MyT anyone/anywhere can make/get a perfect, consistent and freshly made cup of Chai.
It is rare to find a fresh and tasteful Chai away from homes. Outside homes, the Chai gets compromised in the following ways and it tastes bad/bitter/stale/cold.
Prepared by using tea bag or premixes
Pre-prepared and stored in heated or non-heated vessels
Prepared using machines that use coffee process
The primary reason of using above mentioned methods is to avoid the involved and repetitive process of making Chai. Given the large numbers Chai is consumed in, it becomes nearly impossible for people to make good Chai by going through this involved and repetitive process.
5. Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it came to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
MyT was born because I personally felt the need of an automated quality Chai at two different times:
In a Chai-based cafe (TrupTEA) that I had started and ran for 2 years, we made Chai on order and served it right from the pan. Some days the Chai tasted great while not so great on the other days. We knew that the Chai taste varied because of all the guess works (brew time, amount of ingredients, time of addition of ingredients, flame or power setting etc) involved in Chai making process. No matter how much we standardized the process, the taste still varied because of human-error; the staff would get bored of the process after few cups of Chai and would stop following the process. I wished for a Chai machine that automates Chai process so that we could serve quality Chai to our customers. Interestingly there were a lot of machines to make coffee but surprisingly none to brew authentic Chai. . It was kind of shock considering that India is primarily a Chai-drinking nation.
I faced problems with Chai at my workplace as well. All the available options for Chai in offices were far from satisfactory and none of them worked for me and my friends.
We tried multiple machines at work which basically either used tea bags or premixes to make Chai or employed coffee process in which pre-prepared and stored tea liquor is mixed with stored warm milk to prepare Chai. Chai from these machines tasted pretty bad.
Then for a while we ordered Chai from shops/stalls; this option was not only expensive but also provided stale Chai. The Chai was prepared at least an hour ago or more before it reached us and tasted bitter, not hot and stale. The added spices and tea lose their fresh delicate taste and tasted bad even if it was micro-waved. .
As a last resort, we used to step out of office in hunt of a good Chai. But the shops pre-prepared their Chai in bulk and stored it in heated or non-heated vessels for long hours for various reasons. Chai upon storage became bitter and lost its fresh & delicate taste and tasted bad.
Consequently in absence of any good Chai, I and my friends either became coffee drinkers or non-milk tea drinkers as we realized that Chai must be brewed, served and consumed fresh and its the beverage better suited for home.
Having been personally troubled by this, I questioned why can’t there be a machine which makes Chai using the same ingredients and process that we use at home and taste the same as home-made Chai. It remained with me and came back in an entrepreneurship course I had taken during my MBA at IIMA. As a course project, I had to propose a product idea and make a business plan. I opted for authentic Chai maker and did a 4-5 month of holistic research to realize that non-availability of good Chai is indeed an omnipresent problem in India, especially in offices. I opted out of placements at IIMA and started building MyT right after I graduated.
6. Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
All tea sellers who supply tea/tea machines to workplaces or beverage machines to eateries are our competitors. Our product and service is our differentiator. I can confidently say that there is no machine in the market which comes even close to MyT in terms of brewing authentic Chai. Once someone tastes Chai from MyT, the differentiator is established right then and there. We are very sincere when it comes to breakdown of our product. We spent about 6 months after MyT was ready to fix all the major & unknown hardware/software problems by installing it in a couple of workplaces. So far we have not let MyT down for more than 3 hours in all our installations and our customers admire our product/services. We could afford to do so because we are the makers of MyT Brewer – everything is done in-house right from programming to assembly.
7. How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us something about your co-founder/s
I met Harvinder (co-founder) in Ahmedabad. I was doing my MBA and he was in his 3rd year of his Engineering education at LJIT Ahmedabad. I got to meet him through someone and discussed with him about MyT. Later when I started prototyping, I worked with him on and off for a year on various items. Then right after his graduation, he joined MyT. Harvinder is a generalist and derives pleasure out of getting things done.
8. How did you hired your first team members? What skills Do you want in your employees/team?
We look for a mix of a strong character, burning desire and relevant capability, in the same order.
9. What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
In the next 2 years we plan to make our product and services available in tier-1 Indian cities. In the next 5 years we want to increase our product line, improve our existing products and prototype a robotic Chai/snacks stall.
10. Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
10 years is a long time but we hope to retain our passion and keep contributing in the area of food automation.
11. What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
To install more MyTs across workplaces and eateries
12. Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
No, we have bootstrapped our venture so far with our own money, funds from IIMAverick scholarship (CIIE @ IIMA) & a few grants from Eklavya Education Foundation, Ahmedabad.
13. What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
Making a new hardware is an expensive affair and requires multiple skills. We had to build these capabilities (design, engineering, electronics, manufacturing, hardware & firmware) between the two of us co-founders. There is little or no ecosystem for hardware entrepreneurship in India so you are on your own. All the expert advices, mentorships, forums to discuss problems are available mostly for software-related start-ups. Gestation period to build a producible hardware product with reliable functioning is very long and the whole process is very frustrating & iterative. It took us about 26 prototypes and 2+ years before we settled on our current version. Additionally, it is difficult to find suppliers and manufacturers who can supply components and manufacture custom parts in a timely manner when the order size is small. All in all building a new hardware product requires mountains of patience and a good luck if it has to be built frugally.
Another challenge we face is that people don’t believe us when we tell people that MyT Brewer makes home-like Chai by boiling natural ingredients. This is due to a mistrust has been created in the market as people have heard these promises before from other machine players and these machines do not deliver on their promises. Additionally, its deeply ingrained in the subconscious of people that machine makes bad Chai and not to drink Chai from a machine. The phrase “machine ki Chai” brings back bad memories so much so that it becomes very difficult for people to imagine a new machine that can make good cup and change their old perception of “machine ki Chai”. However, the perception changes soon after someone taste Chai from MyT but the challenege continues.
Another aspect is MyT is a new concept of brewing your own Chai just like you brew at home so the process of operating MyT is little different from conventional beverage machines. This requires some changes in people’s habits which is another challenge that we face
The only way to solve these problems is keep going, learn and improve if you can but do not give up.
14. What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
Developing MyT was the most challenging part of our journey till now. It was like we needed everything (money, expert guidance, know-how, market insights, mentorship) in the world then but we had nothing. Like I said before, we simply did not give up.
15. Are you married, single or in a relationship?
I am married.
16. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I love to spend time with friends/family in non-work time.
17. Whats your favorite food & holiday destination?
I love vegetarian south-Indian cuisine and street foods in general. Holiday in nature is great.
18. Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
Stories/thoughts of building of useful things which had not existed before motivate me the most. I don’t have any idol as such but I admire achievements/talents of some of the people/groups; the list is long but AR Rahman, Sachin Tendulkar, Daimler, MS Dhoni, Dyson to name popular few.
19. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
I believe entrepreneurs have a vision of the future driven by a strong & genuine purpose. It is not necessarily true for those who work for someone else.
20. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Given a chance, I would choose the same career (engineering) but would start on engineering-driven entrepreneurship much earlier.
21. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
My social life reduced to a few extremely close friends but the family life improved (so far) because of flexible work-schedule that I get to decide.
22. Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Be yourself and do what your inner voice says. The worst thing one can do is to try to be someone else against their inner voice.
23. Tell us something about your education & family background.
I hold a B.Tech from IIT Kanpur and MS from UC (Ohio) in Aerospace Engineering. Post that I worked in area of Computational Engineering for about 8 years and then did MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. I OOPS-ed out and started on MyT right after the MBA. I was born and brought up in Jaipur. My father is retired Civil engineer and my mother is a homemaker. My wife, Payal, is a software developer and we have a 7 year old daughter, Chaarvi.
24. What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains.
In the last few years many Chai start-ups have opened shops in and around high-traffic areas aiming to make good cup of Chai available outside homes. Our vision is the same but we have adopted a different approach which we believe is much more effective and efficient. We have focussed on Chai only and engineered a Brewer that can make a perfect cup so that anyone/anywhere can use it. In the last 2-3 decades only cosmetic innovations have been done for Chai machines; at best the current Chai machines are coffee machines in disguise. MyT Brewer is the first machine that actually boils the natural ingredients and prepares Chai.
25. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
I think the biggest threat to a start-up business is a non-sustainable business model i.e., a product/service that customers don’t want at a price that a business can sustainably sell at.
26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
I believe successful life comprises of getting to spend time with loved ones (friends & family), being able to take care of your daily basic needs, a healthy body, some hobbies and a work that you love doing. I believe I am living a successful life.
27.Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person
Contact person – Amit Kasliwal ([email protected], 7023333713)