Creating an idea towards steaming hot idlis & dosas

Starting with idly and dosa batter, iD has diversified into Malabar parota and chapati, and is now planning to launch a superfood range

Creating an idea towards steaming hot idlis & dosas
For Musthafa P C, eating three meals a day was like a big dream, and breakfast was something he had never heard of. But now, the 44-year-old entrepreneur is providing breakfast to millions of people, literally.It was not an easy journey for this school dropout from Chennalode, a village in Wayanad district of Kerala, who went on to study MBA at IIM-B, and turned out to be an entrepreneur, whose company’s turnover was Rs 144 crore in the last fiscal. He wants to make it a Rs 1,000-crore business in another four years.

Musthafa, who founded iD Fresh Food, has set a mission of making the preparation of home-made meals a pleasure.

It all started at the fag-end of 2006, when Musthafa was pursuing his MBA. His cousins were running a kirana store in Thippasandra, Bengaluru. They found that the idly and dosa batter supplied by the vendor was unhygienic and not packed properly. When his cousins — Shamsudeen T K, Abdul Nazer, Jafar T K and Noushad T A — were discussing about it with Musthafa, the idea of supplying fresh and neatly packed batter struck them.

What followed after this idea was not a smooth journey, the path with full of ups and downs — just like any other successful entrepreneurs go through. But what made all the five, especially Musthafa to easily go through the phase was his initial struggle as a child in Wayanad. His father was a wage labourer, and sometimes, during his holidays, Musthafa used to accompany his father on labourer’s work just to support the family.

He failed in Class 6, but a sheer zeal to do something made him join school again, become a topper in Class 7, and then in Class 10. He went on to do engineering, and worked in a few companies before joining IIM-B.

Coming back to his entrepreneurial journey, Musthafa recalls those tough days. “We had no experience in packaged foods, and we were clueless about fermentation. We rented a small place 60-70 sq feet near the kirana store and invested together Rs 50,000, to purchase a grinder and mixer. Initially, it was difficult, as we couldn’t sell many packets, also we were mixing 5,000 kg of rice and providing free samples to our kirana store customers,” says Musthafa.

He adds that they got the right product mix and from then on there was no looking back. “It took us nine months to sell 100 packets of idly dosa batter, and after that we were confident of selling more,” says the CEO & Co-founder of iD Fresh Food.

From idly and dosa (iD), now it has become a brand, having presence across the country. The company’s vision is to become a fresh food brand, admired and trusted the world over.  “We produce and deliver fresh food to our customers every single day. We take great pride in our home-made style of preparation in ultra-hygienic, HACCP compliant factories,” he says.

 “We launched recently in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, and we are planning to launch in Delhi and Ahmedabad by the end of this fiscal,” he says.

Dubai journey

The iD team found that idly and dosa batter demand is not just across the country, but also outside India.
Knowing this demand, iD was launched in Dubai, catering to huge Indian population there. “We have one factory in Dubai, and the Dubai market alone contributes to 25% of our total revenues. It’s a very good market and we are seeing huge opportunities there,” he said, adding that they are also looking at other countries. “We are exploring multiple opportunities,” he says.

Idly, dosa batter and more

From just idly and dosa batter, iD diversified its product offerings by introducing Malabar parota and chapati. Later, it also added paneer and curd.

Now, iD is planning to explore the superfood range by introducing ragi, vada and millet batter, and wheat dosa. “We will be launching ragi batter on August 15, and other batters by September. We want to explore and also cater to the health-conscious segment, by providing healthy food choices,” he says.

Quiz him about the ready-to-cook segment size, the answer one gets is mind-boggling. Yes, there is a Rs 1,000-crore business opportunity just in idly batter in Bengaluru alone.

“Close to 94% of idly batter is prepared at home. Compare this scenario with a decade ago when wheat was grounded carefully by grinding at home. But now people are looking for wholesome flour to make fluffy rotis,” he says. Similarly, the idly and dosa batter will also become readily available and widely used, opines Musthafa.

While the company closed the last fiscal with Rs 144 crore, it expects the turnover to be Rs 230-240 crore this fiscal, and to reach Rs 1,000 crore in four years.

“From selling just 100 packets a month, we have come a long way by selling two million packets a month across 20,000 stores, and our distribution network is in 12 cities. We sell idly batter that can make 35 crore idlies a year. Idly and dosa batter alone contributes to 50% of revenues, followed by parota (25-30%), chapati (9-10%), and paneer and curd (10%),” says the CEO.

The company has five factories in India — two in Bengaluru, one each in Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad, and one in Dubai.

“I never ever thought in my life I would be feeding people on a daily basis,” Musthafa says, claiming that iD batter is authentic, 100% natural and against pesticides.

In March this year, it raised Rs 150 crore from PremjiInvest, the private equity firm of Azim Premji, and in October 2014, the company raised Rs 35 crore from Helion Venture Partners.

People behind iD

iD employs 1,500 people at present, and its operations are automated and also technologically-driven.

 While  Musthafa’s cousin Shamsudeen oversees production operations across geographies,  his other cousins — Abdul Nazer oversees product development,  Jafar has designed and created iD’s unique distribution model, and Noushad  manages human resources.

“I want to provide employment opportunities to people from rural areas. It’s not tough to become an entrepreneur as all you need is a good team, and I have got one. Also, you need to find the right product, and we have one,” he concludes.

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