A Pune-based couple is setting career goals for the young entrepreneurs with their inspirational story. Having worked for the IT sector for more than 13 years, Milind Datar and Kirty Datar, decided to quit their well-paying job to start a business of their own, Canebot.
Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention
A few years before deciding on their business, the couple was driving down a long highway stretch on a hot summer day. They realized they needed some refreshing drink to quench their thirst. They stopped on many millennial cafes and where people were enjoying their mocha’s and lattes. That did not appeal to the couple at all.
They needed something natural which does not come loaded with artificial sweeteners. The couple decided to drive on and found a local villager selling sugarcane juice not far along. While enjoying the cool refreshing drink at the small shed, Milind and Kirty reminisced their childhood memories when they would enjoy the sugarcane juice more often.
They realized that many of today’s youth prefer having a cold coffee over sugarcane juice because, for one, the juice does not get served in these fancy cafes, and second because the sheds and places that do serve it are not very clean with the flies buzzing on the mess lying around.
Even while working in their IT firms, the couple would enjoy a hearty meal at their extravagant cafeteria which had almost everything. But sugarcane juice was yet missing. Mostly because of the safety concerns on using the machinery.
Taking The Next Step Forward
The couple soon felt the urge to work up the idea of making sugarcane juice more accessible to people who are sitting in glassed offices or to the millennials in their cafes. After all, they are all missing out on something utterly delicious.
Since they had no idea about their venture, Milind and Kirty quit their job and decided to research thoroughly on their business prospect. The couple wanted to know everything that goes in making the juice from the technology to procuring the raw material. They studied the market and the issues that they may face while running the business and how to overcome them.
They aimed at transforming the ‘less cool’ Sugarcane Juice into a neat, hygienic lifestyle beverage that Millennials would want to flaunt. Since the machine and process of juicing a sugarcane looked unhygeinic, the couple needed to do something to change that.
Innovating Their Own
For this, they decided to design a new crush machine altogether. Milind says in an interview, “The newly conceived machine had better crushing capacity. The sugarcane did not have to be crushed repeatedly to extract the juice. A single crush ensured 95% extraction. Moreover, the machine was small, easily movable, and had a cover.”
The covering of the machine ensured the juice did not spill, or was not exposed to outside pollutants. It also reduced the noise produced during crushing. The crushing unit was built from food-grade stainless steel, unlike the iron or other materials used conventionally.
The Internet of Things (IoT) in the machine could calculate the amount of sugarcane juice extracted per day. It made monitoring operations accessible through internet connectivity. This innovative machine could also skin the sugarcane before crushing.
The couple identified farmers in Maharashtra who could assure consistent quality, quantity and supply of the farm produce through the year.
In 2012, the couple launched the proprietary firm Canectar Foods Pvt Ltd, targeting IT companies. Gradually, they opened 12 outlets across various companies to sell about 45,000 glasses of juice a month, earning around Rs 2 crore per year.
Post The Pandemic
Though the business was thriving pre-pandemic, the business was immensely affected during the lockdown. In August 2020, the startup came back in business with an energy drink, Ganna Panna, offering bottled sugarcane and raw mango juice free from preservatives.
In the first quarter of 2021, the business has started picking up gradually and the earnings have increased by 25-30% and fetching Rs 7 lakhs a month to Kirty & Milind.