From companies making kitchen robots to semi-automatic bike covers, here’s what SMBStory covered this week
India is seeing a tech revolution among small and medium businesses, which are building brands around some interesting products solving major consumer problems.
From a Delhi-based brand that makes semi-automatic bike covers to a Bengaluru-based company that manufactures machines to make foods without any human intervention, this week, SMBStory covered stories of tech transforming SMBs.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has leveraged Indian businesses to adopt the technology, accelerating the pace at which businesses, especially SMBs, are digitising.
Bengaluru-based Mukunda Foods was founded in 2012 as a chain of quick-service restaurants (QSR) to make and sell different kinds of dosas. Automation was not even on the cards, recalls Eshwar K Vikas and Sudeep Sawat, Co-founders of the company.
However, after opening their third outlet, they started facing issues such as the staff not turning up or the chef taking too many leaves. This impacted the quality and consistency of food, and led to an increase in customer complaints, besides impacting the profits.
This is when the founders decided to leverage technology to automate their kitchen processes. Because they had an engineering background, it helped the founders to take care of the technicalities.
The company’s first product — DosaMatic — was made for Mukunda’s own outlets, says Eshwar.
DosaMatic became famous in Bengaluru for “making dosas automatically.” As the orders grew day after day, the co-founders decided to transition from the QSR business model to manufacturing and selling these machines.
Later, they innovated and made more machines (such as RiCo, Eco Fryer, and Wokie) to automate other culinary dishes such as those of Chinese, North Indian, American, and more cuisines.
Twenty-seven-year-old Keshav Rai was an average student in school but his keen interest in repairing things around made him pursue engineering. However, he soon got bored and decided to try his hands at entrepreneurship.
Keshav was so serious about starting his own company that he requested his father to fund one of his app-based businesses in 2015. But as they say, timing is everything. Keshav’s first two startups were failures, but he never gave up on innovating and learning.
Having failed in the first two business attempts, Keshav left home, and spent tough days before encountering the idea of starting a semi-automatic bike cover business.
Keshav started Bike Blazer in late 2016. It offers two-wheeler parking covers that are water-resistant and protects vehicles from dust. The handy device can be fixed on the vehicle and the overall operational time of the cover is below 30 seconds, says Keshav.
Today, Bike Blazer is seeing an annual turnover of Rs 1.3 crore.
Other top picks of the week:
Rakesh Malhotra is the Founder of Luminous Batteries, a company he launched in 1988 that started off by manufacturing and selling inverters and batteries. It expanded to making air purifiers, water purifiers, and more products after 2011 under the brand name Livpure.
But the year 2020 saw the serial entrepreneur’s business journey change direction — propelled by the usual suspect — the COVID-19 pandemic.
He had been observing the potential in the mattress market for quite some time.
So, he decided to introduce two big changes in August 2020, right when the country was coming out of the first nationwide lockdown. For starters, the company took its products online after he realised that during the pandemic, people were searching for Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands for wellness products. And secondly, he introduced the sleep and wellness vertical of Livpure, comprising mattresses, pillows, bedsheets, curtains, etc.
While they started the mattress brand from scratch, today, it is scaling up step by step, growing between 20-30 percent month on month, with an average order value of Rs 12,000.
Theme Weavers Designs
India is known worldwide for its ‘big fat weddings’. However, the COVID-19 pandemic cast a massive shadow on the wedding industry.
A large number of people either postponed their wedding dates while others decided to have smaller celebrations on their original dates and a larger celebration at a later date. The trend may be new but Prerana Agarwal Saxena, Founder of Theme Weavers Designs, a Gurugram-based design studio that curates tailor-made weddings, says she saw it coming in the last few years.
Prerana’s love for palaces, forts, and luxury weddings made her quit marketing to start her own wedding planning company. She says she began by organising small birthday parties. Her first project was for Rs 5,000, and there has been no looking back since then.
Prerana organised her first wedding in 2009 at Rambagh Palace, Jaipur, and has since planned around 106 weddings out of 250 events, including those of Shivraj Singh, the Yuvraj of Jodhpur; Gayatri Kumari, Yuvrani of Jodhpur; and more ranging in the premium budget.
Ruminating about the future of the Indian wedding industry amidst the pandemic, Prerana says there won’t be a huge change in the industry, but it will continue to evolve.
“People now want premium and luxury weddings. The trend is fast changing and wedding planners have to gear up for that,” she says.
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