Taking Rotimatic from just a concept to a best-selling fully automatic roti-maker has been no child’s play for entrepreneur and innovator, but Nagarkar feels the results have been worth the hardships.

As a society, we are prone to associate kitchen duties with women, but somehow lack this tendency in associating high-tech kitchenware with the fairer gender. Singapore-based innovator and Founder of the first of its kind kitchen robot, Rotimatic, Pranoti Nagarkar has done her share to change the perception of women in the tech sector. Her company – Zimplistic – has crossed USD 60 million in sales in just two years after the Rotimatic’s launch, and is set to announce a new fundraising round. Although exciting and fulfilling, Pranoti’s passage to break into an unproven market to then become a name to reckon with was not an easy one. 

Pranoti Nagarkar
Pranoti Nagarkar
Pranoti Nagarkar – the brain behind Rotimatic 

Pranoti’s drive to pursue a career in engineering stemmed from her love for exploring her creative side to invent contraptions. Today, Nagarkar is the founder, co-CEO, and lead designer at Zimplistic. The tech innovator is also a hands-on mother of two. 

She is a Mechanical Engineer and considers the prototype for an ironing machine she built in her junior year at college as a warm-up to the 8-years-long challenge to launch Rotimatic that she would commence after graduation. Currently, her professional responsibilities include managing the scaling efforts in the 20 markets Zimplistic operates in. 

The inspiration behind Rotimatic

Pranoti and her husband, Rishi Israni, realized the need for an effective automated flatbread-maker in their initial days in entrepreneurship. According to Pranoti, this stage is one where new business owners need to be careful with budgeting, given that entrepreneurs do not receive a set salary in the early days of running a company. Therefore, eating home-cooked meals not only ensure better health by steering clear of readymade meals, but it is also a great way to save money on restaurants. 

The task of making rotis is complex and demands labor
The task of making rotis is complex and demands labor

However, the task of making rotis is complex and demands labor. It involves mixing the base ingredients – flour, water, and oil – in the correct proportion to knead into a dough of ideal consistency. This dough is then separated into smaller sections and rolled into evenly flattened discs. The last step is to roast these uncooked dough discs on heated pans or directly over a flame. The fact that a food as basic as a roti required so much effort, and despite all the technological advancements made in today’s world the only way to make rotis was by hand seemed unbelievable. 

To Pranoti and Rishi, this presented a real-world problem that could be simplified with automation. Thus, they collaborated to bring about Rotimatic, the first kitchen robot to fully automate the process of making a roti, and spent eight years bringing the product to market. The intelligent appliance has numerous moving parts, motors, and electronics, and incorporates sophisticated software, artificial intelligence, and IoT in it as well.  

Initial challenges faced by the entrepreneur

The primary obstacle Pranoti had to overcome was to convince market players of the potential of her product, which proved to a big challenge especially in an unproven market. The technology risks were significant, and skepticism regarding the plausibility of manufacturing a complex machine such as the Rotimatic on a large scale had to be logically quelled without compromising the quality of the product itself.

As a new mother, the responsibilities only piled up for Pranoti who was now balancing her role as an attentive parent as well as a budding businesswoman. Five years later, Pranoti believes balancing work and personal life has become easier given that she now works with a larger team and her products are already out in the market. In 2013, the biggest hurdle to overcome as a founder of a start-up was getting the Rotimatic ready for launch, and overseeing every aspect – from design to manufacturing.

Team Zimplistic
Team Zimplistic
Future for Zimplistic 

Pranoti Nagarkar has come a long way as an entrepreneur, and she considers her first big achievement in this role to be the successful building of the product itself. The Herculean task took eight years and the results have been worth it for the makers as well as the consumers both. As of now, Rotimatic by Zimplistic is a part of 60,000 homes in 20 countries, the units purchased exclusively through their website. The appliance has been updated to make pizza bases, tortillas, and puris as well to make the product more relevant to broader demography. It is a popular kitchen assistant in the US where the company makes about 60–70% of sales. Other markets where Rotimatic is doing well are in including Australia, the Middle East, Canada, and the United Kingdom. These are the markets that have many Indian expats

Zimplistic is now all set to raise more funds. The aim is to implement the capital to improve the unit economics of the appliance, marketing, as well as to boost sales and distribution. 

Pranoti’s mantra for giving her career her best every day of her life

The tech innovator has her hands full but remains motivated through meditation and sheer grit to keep going even when the going gets tough. It helps her make some of the most crucial decisions to scale her company, and the most important one till now, she maintains, has been to onboard her software engineer husband.

The kitchen is where robotics will flourish next, and Zimplistic founders – Rishi Israni and Pranoti Nagarkar – have laid down the path with Rotimatic for further tech evolution in this space.

We have all heard of the more or less ubiquitous rice cooker. Most South Asians have now become accustomed to using the numerous variants of the kitchen appliance for cooking one of the most popular stables of their diet – rice. The other favorite food staple of South Asians, roti, however, is still largely made by hand. And although the process of making this flour-water-oil flatbread may seem simple, it is quite the task. For someone who is not an expert in the art of making rotis, the traditional method of doing it is complex enough for them to choose quickly choose ready-made alternatives. Zimplistic’s Rotimatic – a fully-automatic roti maker perfect for domestic use – has emerged as a game-changer for how we are accustomed to preparing the age-old recipe. 

Rotimatic simplifies daily life

Pranoti Nagarkar, Founder and Co-CEO of Zimplistic, recalls her earliest memories of rotis being that of her mother laboring away in the kitchen to bring fresh rotis right off the pan to the table. Similar to most people who shoulder the responsibility of cooking chapatis, phulkas, or rotis, Pranoti recollects her mother too compromised on the time she could have spent with her family at the dinner table. Sadly, without investing adequate time and attention, the effort put into yielding soft and fluffy rotis goes to naught. 

To understand this better, one has to consider the actions that go into making a roti. The dry and wet ingredients are carefully measured out in the correct proportion of the mix. The water added should preferably be of a certain temperature (warm) to facilitate kneading of the dough to the ideal consistency. After a period of rest, this dough is then evenly flattened into thin discs which are then roasted in a pan or directly over a flame. When cooking for an average of four people, the time taken for rotis could be well over half an hour. Rotimatic notably compresses this time down to a few minutes using automation.

The inception of Rotimatic

Pranoti experienced the struggle of making rotis daily first-hand and decided it was about time the roti-making process got a technological update. Thus, the combined efforts of Pranoti and Rishi came about Zimplistic’s Rotimatic that recreates all the steps. Beyond the act of pouring flour, water, and oil into their designated compartments in the machine and pushing a few buttons, Rotimatic does not require any further user intervention.

Rotimatic is equipped with AI and IoT

Rotimatic is a high-tech robot with its 10 motors, 15 sensors, and 200 moving parts controlled by a 32-bit microprocessor. Its highlights though are the AI and IoT features that allow it to be paired with iOS or Android applications. Synced devices such as smartphones enable users to operate it through the installed Rotimatic app from afar. The automatic roti maker also automatically downloads updates for its software as and when those are released in the cloud. Rotimatic thus evolves and expands its gamut of functions and ability to troubleshoot. 

Rotimatic is a hit with the masses

Time is money, and any means that affords us more of it has a thick chance of winning the hearts of people. Rotimatic does exactly this and more. The device shrinks the time taken to make rotis by the traditional method which is rarely less than 30 minutes at least to a matter of a few minutes. It takes about eight minutes to warm up and then continues to give warm, fluffy, fresh flatbread in less than two minutes a unit. 

Rotimatic uses its sensors to measure and dispense the exact amount of ingredients required in the dough mix and kneads it to the ideal consistency. The dough is then moved by a mechanical arm to another part of the appliance where it is evenly flattened into a disc and then roasted on heating plates. A steaming golden-brown roti is slid out on a tray at the front bottom of the Rotimatic at the end of the process. One can specify the oil content, thickness of the flatbread, level of roasting, and the number of rotis to be made in a batch. Every roti made in a batch has consistent quality.

The other factor that is a hit with users is the ease of maintenance of the appliance. It is very simple to clean, and given its IoT feature, it does not have to be carried to a service station any time there is an issue with its performance.

Rotimatic is here to stay

As our lives continue to get more hectic we will continue to look for ways to economize the time we spend on each task. An appliance like Rotimatic is a boon for professionals and those who wish to do more with their time and explore their interests. Kitchen robotics is the next big thing and Zimplistic’s Rotimatic has strengthened the foundation for new-age innovations to build on.

Pranoti Nagarkar met Michelle Obama!
Pranoti Nagarkar met Michelle Obama!

Rotimatic’s pioneering design has made it an indispensable appliance that brings fresh, homemade food to children, curbing the need to consume easily-available junk food. 

The importance of bringing back the norm of growing up on a diet of healthy food is supreme in the present day. Because of the time crunch faced by parents, children bear the brunt of consuming fast-food or food items with a high content of preservatives in more than one meal a day. The result as we all can see is the increased incidence of obesity, diabetes, and other health conditions in our young. Luckily, the advent of high-tech machines in kitchens is helping turn things around, with pioneering inventions like Rotimatic catching the attention of leading social activists.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Obama’s role in healthcare

Recently, the founder of Rotimatic, Pranoti Nagarkar had an opportunity to meet with the former First Lady of the USA and best-selling author and activist, Michelle Obama, with the pretext of discussing healthcare. Obama is undoubtedly one of the most prominent faces of the movement to improve access to organic and nutrition-rich meals to school children. She led a public health campaign, “Let’s Move!” to promote a healthy lifestyle in children, aiming to lower childhood obesity to 5% by 2030.

Michelle Obama announced the campaign in 2010, and together with the presidential memorandum signed by President Obama called the Task Force on Childhood Obesity, actively worked toward the following goals:

  • Providing healthy formative years for children, including access to nutritious food in school
  • Empowering parents and caregivers
  • Increasing physical activity

 

Rotimatic resonates Obama’s idea of healthcare

Rotimatic resonates with the ideologies promoted by Michelle, primarily by aiding to replace fast-food with enriching and wholesome homemade meals. The world’s first fully automated rotimaker has compressed a task that would traditionally take about an hour to just a few minutes. Consuming home-cooked flatbreads had become a luxury, and therefore, rare, for urban families who were habitually picking frozen flatbreads or takeaways from restaurants.   

Rotimatic relies on AI and IoT to produce fresh, soft, and delicious flour-and-water flatbreads with consistent quality. A 32-bit microprocessor controls and synergizes the functions of 10 motors, 15 sensors, and 200 moving parts within the robot’s 40 x 40-centimeter body. Ingredients are measured, dispense, kneaded into a dough, flattened, and roasted in under 90 seconds – all without human interference.  The user can set the number of rotis in a batch, their oil content, thickness, and level of roasting. 

Self-reliance – a common thread

In her best-seller, Becoming (2018), Michelle talks about how her mother ingrained the trait of being responsible for one’s own well-being. She stuck to the lesson and made an example of this principle by nurturing a garden at the white house during her tenure as the First Lady to encourage the consumption of organically grown produce.

Similarly, Rotimatic has empowered a demographic made of students, professionals, and those who are not very adept at kitchen duties to be able to make their own flatbreads – be it rotis, tortillas, puris, or pizza-base. Since the appliance can be connected to wifi, tracked using the Rotimatic app, and troubleshooting can be done directly from the cloud. 

Health benefits of consuming fresh, homemade rotis

Take a look at the menu of your favorite deli and you’re bound to find an array of bread-based bites and baked confectionaries. A majority of them will have white bread – our go-to sandwich bread – or be made of white flour. This staple of childhood lunches is low in fiber and has a lot of preservatives that are only useful for elongating their shelf life and texture. It contains just the white endosperm, which is primarily starch and is completely bereft of the bran and germ of the wheat grain. Its nutritional value is thus very poor.

Packaged tortillas and pitas are also mostly full of preservatives and texture modifiers that have zero nutritional value. Additionally, these have high gluten content which is detrimental to gut health. 

However, the whole-wheat versions of these can be made easily and in a fraction of the time using Rotimatic. Unleavened flatbread such as rotis, puris, tortillas, pizza bases, and pita made of whole wheat have the following health benefits:

  1. It has more fiber and is rich in protein, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and selenium.
  2. The lower starch content in whole wheat bread satisfies hunger pangs for longer.  
  3. Its low glycemic index helps control blood sugar.  

 

Rotimatic making healthy living a priority
Rotimatic making healthy living a priority
Rotimatic is in tune with the need to make healthy living a priority

The kitchen robot is an essential tool that is bringing in homemade food and therefore nutrition on our table without hassle and labor. Its necessity in this age of technology and grueling work culture is evident in its widespread acceptance across the globe, with the United States making up one of its biggest markets. The brand has already over 70 million units in the first couple of years since it hit the market and has a waiting list of customers keen on making it a part of their lifestyle. Since its inception, Rotimatic has stood for homemade goodness and nutrition, and its visibility has deservedly gotten a boost with being recognized by one of the best-known icons in the nutrition space. 

Zimplistic’s bestselling product, Rotimatic, is a market success raking in massive revenue with an exponentially expanding user base.

The idea of having robots at home to help out with domestic chores is no longer a thing of science fiction. You can see variants of it already in use and rising. This year happens to be especially noteworthy for its marked rise in demand for domestic robots, and understandably so, give the ever-intensifying schedules of individuals. It is, therefore, no wonder that Rotimatic, being a high-performing appliance, is selling like hotcakes.

A Brief Background of Rotimatic

The fully automatic roti-maker is the product of years of research and several patents by innovator team Pranoti Nagarkar and Rishi Israni. The duo has the vision to be instrumental in the realization of intelligent kitchens and Rotimatic is a significant step towards that goal. The countertop robot has automated one of the most basic food items that are an indispensable part of most cuisines around the world – the flatbread. Call it roti, tortilla, pizza base, pita, flatbreads have a global presence.

However, unless one is extremely well-practiced in the art of making flatbread, cooking one from scratch is a tedious and time-consuming ordeal. In the age we are living in, taking time out from our busy schedules to hand-make rotis is something we opt out of, often choosing unhealthy alternatives such as frozen rotis or takeaways from restaurants. In such an environment, Rotimatic is a lifesaver. It economizes time and effort by automating the multi-layered process of making flatbreads and does not compromise with nutrition either.

Rotimatic makes rotis, pizzas, tortillas
Rotimatic Sold 40000 Units
Rotimatic is not the only Kitchen Robot out there

Domestic robots are proliferating at a rapid pace and The Boston Consulting Group expects expenditure on them to reach $87 billion by 2025. Rotimatic by Zimplistic, priced at $999, is catching up to popular players such as Miso Robotics’ Flippy in the kitchen robotics space. Julia, a work-in-progress by Nymble Labs, will be a machine intelligent enough to recreate a select list of recipes according to the personal taste preferences of the user.

Adding to the list of AI-based robot chefs that can mimic human behavior in assisting in cooking food is Mechanical Chef. It is proficient in preparing over 20 Indian dishes. Suzumo’s sushi robots have automated the process of putting together sushi and are very popular. The UK-based Moley’s robotic kitchen takes it a step further by boasting of the capability to recreate recipes from celebrity chefs such as Thomas Keller and Gordon Ramsay.

Rotimatic Stands Out among other Innovations in the Kitchens Robotics Space

The high Rotimatic sales can be attributed to its uniqueness. It is the only fully automated, AI and IoT-enabled roti-maker made for domestic use in existence. It can be paired with iOS or Android applications so that users may operate from synced devices as well through the Rotimatic app. The IoT feature also enables the automatic download of updated versions of the Rotimatic software. 

Rotimatic utilizes the 32-bit microprocessor-controlled 10 motors, 15 sensors, and 200 moving parts to give you fresh rotis in under two minutes. The robotic elements of the machine dispense measured quantities of flour, water, and oil in the dough mix. This dough is kneaded to an ideal consistency by the internal mechanism of the appliance to form perfect discs for roasting into puffed up golden brown rotis. Each stage is carried out in dedicated parts within the unit.

Users can choose the number of rotis that Rotimatic will prepare in a batch (the maximum being 20), the amount of oil to be added to the dough, the thickness of the roti, and the level of roasting. The creators of Rotimatic paid a lot of attention to the consistency of quality of the flatbreads made in the appliance, and each roti in a batch is satisfactorily is exactly the same.

Rotimatic Sales Testify its Demand – 40000 Units Sold

The promise to minimize user intervention when employed has struck a chord with homemakers and professionals accustomed to a convenience economy. Rotimatic, which is now available in the US, UK, the Gulf countries, Singapore, across Europe, and Australia, has sold over 40000 units, generating about $40 million. The company brought its total funding to $48.5 million by raising $30 million earlier this year.

Hot Rotis made in Rotimatic
Hot Rotis made in Rotimatic

Advanced technology is making its way into every sphere of our lives and domestic kitchens is an area to look out for interesting innovations in. Planning meals per our individual health needs and taste preferences with minimal labor are the ultimate goal of futuristic kitchens.

Werner Vogels’ reaches start-up hotbed Singapore and an intriguing conversation about future-tech with innovators Pranoti Nagarkar and Rishi Israni ensues. 

Tech-centric shows are a great way to stay up to date about what’s new in the tech world, the “Now Go Build with Werner Vogels” series on Amazon is one that has become a raging hit. In each episode, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels interviews innovators and gives an insight into the dynamic and rapidly evolving world of AI and cloud computing.

A recent episode of the show focused on Singapore-based husband and wife team of entrepreneur/tech expert and mechanical engineer, Rishi Israni and Pranoti Nagarkar – the inventors of Rotimatic. The kitchen robot is poised to change the way the world cooks one of its oldest recipes – the simple flour-and-water flatbread. 

The idea behind Rotimatic

It is no wonder that Vogels has chosen to explore the story of Rotimatic. The AI and IoT-enabled appliance are the only one of its kind and leagues ahead of its predecessors in the category of electronic flatbread or roti-makers. It is an antithesis to the notion that automation is eroding traditions since what it does is it implements technology to hold on to norms most dear to us.

What Pranoti and Rishi have come up with is an efficient system to replicate the process of making a roti (and other forms of flatbread such as tortillas and pizza base) in a completely self-governed machine. It aims to address issues that compromise our standard of living, be it is managing a work-life balance or health. As pointed out by Israni, “seventy percent of illnesses are lifestyle disease-related, and they are primarily related to the type of food you consume” and “one-third of the world’s food is wasted”. Rotimatic is the duo’s first step toward realizing their vision of a fully intelligent kitchen that will ensure a healthy diet for its users and minimize wastage of food at the same time.

Amazon CTO Visits Rotimatic Office
Amazon CTO Visits Rotimatic Office
The tech behind Rotimatic

Rotimatic is the amalgamation of the necessity to optimize time and expert knowledge in cutting-edge technology. Its prototype was first introduced in 2009 by Zimplistic. The home food robot has machine learning built into it, can connect with the wifi and sync with other smart devices, troubleshoot when needed, and update its software. The Rotimatic’s corresponding app will allow it to be operated from remote locations as well. 

Pranoti and Rishi Discussing about Rotimatic with Amazon CTO
Pranoti and Rishi Discussing Rotimatic with Amazon CTO
A quick overview of the benefits of having an intelligent roti-maker

The software makes it possible to track the number of rotis made using Rotimatic across the globe, customer satisfaction, and machine errors. This information helps the company prioritize issues that need to be addressed and fixed first.

Rotimatic collects relevant data from every roti it makes. This includes information concerning the content and quality of the food being prepared by the appliance. Users are also urged to rate the user experience on the display screen of the robot at the end of every cycle to help upgrade the system. Rotimatic gives a data-driven, data-backed understanding of the operations of the machine. 

A labor of love

However, its transition from a hardware-only device to incorporating a major software component was not an overnight one. Years of research following the realization of how complicated servicing the product would be led to implementing AWS and IoT into the Rotimatic design. The benefits of this upgrade have been evident from the first attempt to get the service right and it has facilitated collecting further data to improve the appliance model. The software is now crucial to extend the device into a platform that’s capable of making multiple varieties of flatbread. 

Is the world prepared to give their kitchen an AI and IoT makeover

Clearly, yes. Rotimatic is a device that instantly frees up about an hour from kitchen duty, especially for women who have been playing the part of homemakers. Making flatbreads of any sort is a cumbersome task and the kitchen robot takes the entire process into its stride and compresses it to a matter of minutes. The user decides the sort of bread they wish to prepare, which type and brand of flour to utilize, oil content, the thickness of the rotis, the number of rotis to be made in a batch, and the extent of roasting each roti should undergo.  

Compared to the traditional method of making rotis, using the Rotimatic is ridiculously simple, and helps keep pace with a world that is rapidly turning to automation. Rotimatic is available on the official website as well as on Amazon.