The Buttermilk Company (YC S18) – Homemade Indian Food in 5 Minutes

Hey HN,

I’m Mitra Raman, the founder/CEO of The Buttermilk Company (https:///www.thebuttermilkco.com). We help you make authentic, fresh Indian food in 5 minutes by just adding water to our products.

As an Indian-American in my 20s, I grew up eating my mom’s homemade Indian food everyday. When I moved away from home to attend Carnegie Mellon University, I was homesick for the first time and realized how hard it was to find anything that resembled my mom’s food. I either had to make it myself (finding the Indian grocery store + following my mom’s recipe took way too much time) or would settle for whatever generic dishes at the local Indian restaurant. The options were expensive, time-consuming, or tasted horrible.

Two years into my job as an Software Engineer at Amazon, I asked my mom to help me make her rasam. She gave me all the ingredients in a ziploc bag and told me to just add hot water! I asked my friends about how they coped with homesickness and realized that most parents were also figuring out their own ways of getting their kids’ favorites foods to them when they moved. That’s how the idea for Buttermilk started!

We crowdsource our recipes from real people (keeping our product truly authentic) and develop them into products that are super easy for our customers to make. If you’ve ever asked your mom to send a family recipe to you, you know how hard it is to get this right! Our team spends hours in the kitchen tweaking each recipe so we can prep and cook it just enough that the customer can complete the cooking with water. We have to be careful to not over-prep such that the taste and nutritional value erode over time.

We use fresh and non-GMO ingredients, make everything from scratch (seriously, even the garam masala), and deliver our perishable products in sustainable packaging. Our production is extremely detail-oriented and time-consuming because we are recreating recipes for one family into large-scale batches that need to maintain the quality of its original recipe. To improve efficiency, we have built software to track food production, predict incoming volume, and help our production and fulfillment teams communicate. We’re also exploring new shelf-life extension technologies (such as HPP) so our products can last a lot longer. Currently, they must be refrigerated for 5-7 days or frozen for up to 3 months -- if you don’t eat them before then, that is!

In terms of market size: there are over 4 million Indian immigrants in the U.S. This demographic, like all other ethnic groups, is poorly served by the existing food options when it comes to their cuisines. And of course there is the population of everyone who just likes Indian food and can’t find or make it! Though we are starting with Indian cuisine, we definitely don't plan to stop there. The market for ethnic foods in the U.S. is at least $5B. But in good startup style, we've started with the specific problem we ourselves had.

We’re super eager to hear your feedback, ideas, and experiences in this space or as it relates to our type of product.



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