Next up in our Startup Showcase Q&A series is Anindya Roy, COO of Lecker Labs, producer of Yomee. Billed as the "Keurig for yogurt," Yomee is a countertop appliance which combines milk (and milk alternatives!) with Yomee probiotic pods to create chilled yogurt in 6 hours. Read on to learn more about this startup's journey from concept to "idiot-proof" Kickstarted success.
If you want to meet Anindya and more of the Yomee team in person and see them demo their fully automated yogurt maker (and maybe even take a taste), register for SKS Europe in Dublin on June 11-12th!
Q: First thing’s first: give us your 15-second elevator pitch.
A: Lecker Labs brings you Yomee, “Yogurt Made Easy”. Yomee is the world’s first fully automatic yogurt maker: It’s a single-button kitchen appliance. Pour a cup of milk, add a pod to our machine and come back for fresh, chilled yogurt in just a few hours. Eco-friendly, with zero packaging waste, and vegan-friendly: Use Yomee with soy, almond or other plant-based milks. Yomee is the freshest possible yogurt: everything you want, and nothing you don’t.
Q: What inspired Lecker Labs to develop Yomee?
A: Lecker Labs is a consumer brand, offering “fresh, probiotic foods made easy”. Lecker is developing ideas beyond yogurt for fresh, healthy, organic foods made in the home with push-button convenience, offering plant-based alternatives that are always good to the environment.
The Yomee brand is a personal story. Yomee was started by friends who wanted to give their children healthful yogurt, a food they already loved. But store-bought yogurt is generally packed with sugar and/or preservatives, comes in non-recyclable packaging, and even the best brands can sit on the shelf for a full month. This was unacceptable for Yomee’s founders, who grew up in pre-millenial India with fresh yogurt made daily in their homes. But making yogurt is a multi-step process and doesn’t fit in to our busy modern lives. This got the team thinking: How can we offer the freshness, taste, texture, and probiotic benefits of homemade yogurt in an “idiot-proof” appliance convenient enough for even the busiest (or laziest) modern consumers? We successfully tested our concept on several idiots (we even hired one as our CEO).
Q: How will Yomee change the day-to-day life of its users?
A: Before Nespresso, there were just two ways to get a good cup of coffee: either go to a cafe or make a whole pot (preparing the grounds & filters, then cleaning everything after). Similarly, before Yomee, there were just two ways to get yogurt: Spend hours making yogurt at home, or go to a store and get products with unwanted sugar, preservatives, non-recyclable packaging, or a one-month shelf life. Now people can enjoy a cup of fresh, pure yogurt with no prep, no other cleanup, no muss, no fuss.
Yogurt is a superfood and a popular choice for healthy and “gut-friendly” breakfast or snacking. Yomee is also designed to fit your life. The Yomee cup is specifically designed to hold 2 servings of yogurt, with a lid compartment to hold your toppings, and it all fits in your car’s cup holder. Pour a cup of milk (ether dairy or plant-based), pop a pod into your Yomee, push the button before bed. Six hours later, the cup now has delicious, chilled yogurt, just in time for breakfast or for you to take to your work or run. It will stay cool for hours, so feel free to sleep in.
Q: Yomee blew past its Kickstarter & Indiegogo goals in 2017. What sorts of tips do you have for new startups trying to raise capital on a crowdfunding platform?
A: There is no substitute for awesomeness. Sure, it helps to have catchy graphics, taglines, a persuasive video, and attractive pricing. But marketing can only build awareness, it can’t sell products that don’t fit into people’s lives. Therefore, make sure your product has a story worth telling. Then invest in the visuals to tell your story. Make it easy for prospective backers to see how your product will make a huge, positive impact to their lives (at a reasonable price).
Once you have an awesome product, and you tell the story clearly, concisely, and in an engaging way… Tell the world!!! Don’t rely on the platform to do your job! If you believe in your product, tell everyone! It’s got to be more than a compelling product idea. People will only back teams that have the mojo to deliver. Doers, not just dreamers.
Q: When do you plan to ship your first version of Yomee to its backers? (Or have you already done so?)
A: The first batch of Yomee appliances ship out to our crowdfunding backers in September and continuing through October. This will be followed by the launch of the Yomee store at yomeeyogurt.com, on amazon.com and via the Yomee app for ordering pods.
Q: What’s next for Yomee and Lecker Labs?
A: More fresh, probiotic foods, made at home. While Yomee already makes excellent dairy yogurt -- Greek, stirred or plain -- in the coming months Yomee will launch pods that can make soy, almond and coconut milk yogurts. The dairy pods will also extend to include natural flavors and nutritional supplements. Meanwhile our research teams are actively experimenting with Kefir milk and some other interesting developments on the horizon.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of getting a food tech startup off the ground?
A: Two things: the food and the tech. But mainly the admin and fundraising. OK, that’s 4 things. Every company has a unique set of challenges. For Yomee, the hardest part is managing the breadth of our model: We develop innovative patented technology in both the devices and pods. We manufacture complex appliances at scale on a startup’s budget. We develop and produce food products (pods) that have to meet complex regulatory requirements across the world. We are building a consumer brand from scratch, and developing a brand new habit in a nighttime yogurt making ritual (just pour milk and push a button, but still…)
We are dancing with giants making co-branding agreements with some truly global companies, and we are running to stay ahead of potential challengers. We operate internationally, and we cannot possibly meet all our complex demands with in-house talent, from engineering to branding to food science… But we’re awesome, so it’s going well!
Thanks for speaking with us, Anindya! If you want to see Yomee pitch their product at our Startup Showcase in Dublin this June, register here.