Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi had a dream about a world where milk comes from breweries rather than factory farms. To turn their dream into reality they started Muufri, a start up that has identified the proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in milk and is developing a blending process that could replace factory farming. They submitted their business plan for the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2015 and knew to impress the jury. Muufri was rewarded with the runner-up price of €200,000 to further develop their product and bring it to market. We asked Ryan three questions to find out what his participation brought him and his company.

The days prior to the finale all five finalist were brought together to prepare for the final pitch. You were all in the running to be this year’s winner. How was the atmosphere between you and the other finalists?
It was surprisingly supportive considering it was a competition. I suppose I was expecting to be completely on my own preparing for the final pitch, but RockStart did a fantastic job of preparing each of us to put our best foot forward. By the end of the week, I felt I had really connected with the other finalists. It was a conflicting feeling - on one hand hoping for victory, but on the other hand, rooting for everyone else's great ideas.

What is the major benefit for Muufri that you got by participating in the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge?
As a young startup, time is money - with every passing day, money passes from the bank account like sand through an hourglass. We were at a critical point: we were within reach of a good prototype but we had an uncertain amount of work remaining to get it right. When we received the runner-up prize at the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, it took tremendous pressure off the company - now we could focus on our technology without the threat of financial ruin hanging over our heads. Not to be too dramatic, but it took a ton of stress away from me and my cofounder, Perumal. And sure enough, two months later, we have high quality samples and we're ready to launch into the next phase of the company's life!

What are the next steps for Muufri?
We've made the world's first-ever glass of animal-free milk, but as you might imagine, it wasn't cheap. Luckily, we know exactly which dials to turn in order to bring our cost down and get this product to as many people as possible, and that's our primary goal over the next few years: to scale up and improve the unit economics. Meanwhile, we'll be working with top food scientists to perfect the flavor and develop great-tasting dairy applications for our milk, including cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and even butter.

 

 


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