The idea for came when Rohin Malhotra‘s mother asked him to start cooking dinner two times a week. His mother spent 10 hours at work and also prepared all meals for the family of five.
That is when Malhotra, then a mechanical engineering student at Delhi College of Engineering, realised cooking is not easy, and along with his school friend Raghav Gupta, who was studying electrical engineering at Jamia Milia Islamia, decided to automate the cooking process.
In March 2016, while still in college, the two started working on a robotic arm that could cook. Soon they were inducted into an accelerator programme by German engineering giant Bosch in Bengaluru and moved base from Delhi.
Working with European appliance makers, they realised people don’t want an alien-like robotic arm in their kitchens. Some thought it might strangle them in their kitchen.
“So we started working on the current prototype of the Nymble robotic kitchen assistant that can cook select dishes in 20-30 minutes,” says the 25-year-old Gupta.
They managed to secure Rs 20 lakh funding from the Karnataka government. This proved to be critical for the company’s day-today financing.
Since then, a number of others have invested, including cofounder , 021 Capital, WaterBridge Ventures, Asha Jadeja Motwani, robotics startup GreyOrange co-founder Samay Kohli and cofounder Rajesh Magow.
Hardware startups are rare in India. There are a few like GreyOrange and electric bike maker Ather that have made significant headway.
Gupta and Malhotra plan to manufacture in China, and initially target the US market.
“What will take five days to build here by importing components, places like Shenzhen can do in five hours. And we are starting with the US because that’s a market that can take the pricing range we are looking at,” Gupta said.
The product is expected to beready by the middle of next year. It could cost between $600 and $1,000.
“Having confidence in the founders and their execution capabilities is key. I was impressed and convinced about that at Nymble. For them, the challenge is to get the right understanding of US consumers given they haven’t spent much time there,” said Kohli. He, however, said picking the US market for launch is a smart move, considering India is typically not an early-adoption market.