1. Summarize your business in one sentence.
BAKEYS is a revolutionary and sustainable innovation, that is a change maker.
2. How long have you been in business?
Since 2006, when I first innovated and manufactured edible spoons.
3. Why did you decide to start the company?
I was a researcher on ground water and power sector reforms and had a background in research on agriculture, horticulture, water management, all sorts of farming techniques, crops, land and soil use and misuse, rain patterns and its impacts on farming in India. This led me to think about how I could help save millet that is slowly declining in farming, as farmers go for fast buck cash crops.
I wanted to create a product that would help the soil, preserve millet production for my products and most importantly drive away plastic from food eating, so I created cutlery.
Our mission and vision is to protect the soil, ground water, promote millets and stop plastic invasion.
4. What has been your biggest achievement so far?
4. Several universities from several countries are taking up our product as part of their sustainability programme and researching them for studies. Students from at least 20 countries contacted us for details on our product and how they can create awareness/ manufacture/ make more such products to create alternatives to disposable and harmful plastic.
5. How do you measure success?
The above mentioned biggest achievements are a success for us. Particularly #4, as this will lead to several innovations, creative thinking, out of the box thinking and experimentation. Going beyond academics.
Edible cutlery being manufactured with local ingredients in each continent followed by each country will be a real time answer and mission completion of our vision and provide a spoon full of contribution to a sustainable world.
6. What have you learned in the process?
Innovation is a process of meditation- seeking God through research, patience, persistence, hard work, not ever giving up and being 100% focused.
I have learnt all these by experiencing it since I ventured in 2006 to make my first spoon in my kitchen. Coming this far has been a test of rigor, endurance, losses, ridicule, rejections, apathy, being ignored to becoming a hero.
Making an automatic machine that never existed for such an innovative product (concept) was a big challenge for my imagination as am not an engineer by training or academics. Learning about metallurgy, electrical, mechanical engineering and blending it to make an efficient system has taken my life out and am now a different person than what my family knew me as. I’m evolving with my spoons each day.
7. What advice would you give to someone trying to start a sustainable food company?
Stay tuned to your inner call. Never give up, keep dreaming and try to act on dreams. Seek help, use intuition, try, fail (several times if needed), but eventually you will walk tall one day. Spend quality time with self, and the idea that lead to your sleepless nights (so you day dream), disturbed your family, angered them, frustrated you (and them), caused you to be ridiculed, but will bring you happiness, as it is your original idea. So, stay focused and don’t ever say I can’t.
8. What’s next? Anything else you want to add?
4. Get the next innovation (still a secret) into action – another one for sustainability.
It’s a tough job to be an innovator, if you also wish to sell what you manufacture. It is a big challenge if you don’t have the mental, emotional capacity to get into unknown zones of your being where you may need to learn/ unlearn and tear yourself apart to become a new person.
9. Fun question: what was the best meal you ate this week?
We had our Vedic Hindu new year on 29th March (UGADI) and I ate 3 spoons for breakfast as cooking at home got delayed for a big lunch, with several dishes getting prepared. My won innovation saved my hunger pangs till my wife gave me a delicious meal later. I proved that survival really is a mother of all invention- even my own.
by Narayana Peesapaty and Pradnya Keskar, Founders of BAKEYS