Have you ever dreamed of developing your own kitchen tools to sell to others? Slightly overwhelmed by the long journey from idea, to prototype, to fundraising and actual manufacturing?
We got to speak to the developers of a new baking tool, the LoafNest (affiliate link), who did go on that journey and very successfully if we may say so! Hoping it will be helpful for all those aspiring kitchen inventors out there.
We got to test the LoafNest as well! Read our review here.
Please note, we have not received any financial compensation for writing about or testing the LoafNest. This page does contain Amazon affiliate links which means that, at no extra costs to you, we earn a small commission if you buy through those links.
What is LoafNest?
Before starting our conversation with the inventors of LoafNest, let’s have a look at the LoafNest (affiliate link) itself. It is a simple tool to bake bread at home without requiring a lot of effort. The LoafNest consists of an enameled cast iron Dutch oven with a perforated silicone liner. The Dutch oven has been designed in such a way that it is perfect to making by trapping steam inside (for a crusty crust) but also allowing it to move around the bread.
What makes the LoafNest so special is the ease of use. To bake bread you simply have to weigh & mix your ingredients (no need for kneading), proof it and pour it in the LoafNest liner for baking. We reviewed the whole process in a separate post.
So how did they come up with this idea and how did they bring it to life? That’s what we were interested in when visiting Shrivalli Bhat, who came up with the LoafNest, in her home in the Netherlands.
Introducing the inventor of Loafnest
As soon as I entered Shrivalli’s home was, of course, a slice of freshly baked bread, made with the LoafNest. The flavour of the day: a new experiment, carrot cumin bread (tasted great!). While eating the bread, she showed me the LoafNest and we talked about her LoafNest journey so far.
While I was visiting, in February 2018, Shrivalli was planning the launch of her Kickstarter campaign. This campaign was funded successfully and by now you can buy it on Amazon (affiliate link)!
The problem LoafNest tries to solve
Shrivalli is a scientist by heart, she has a PhD in physics, who happens to have a passion for bread baking. She enjoys making and eating freshly baked bread. However, being a scientist, she saw plenty of ways to improve the process and especially shorten it. All the kneading, proofing and shaping, make bread baking time consuming and hard to fit into your daily life.
She ran into some no-knead recipes online and soon started testing new pans and kits to bake her bread in using this method. While baking, she found that most pans and kits didn’t work ideally for bread baking. Some didn’t heat the bread evenly, or didn’t give as crusty a crust as she might have wanted.
That’s how the idea of LoafNest started to grow. As is the case with a lot of these innovations, the issue or problem at hand doesn’t have to be revolutionary. A simple problem though, can still be solved in a revolutionary manner.
Developing the kit
Once she had tested out those unsatisfactory pans and kits, Shrivalli continued tinkering in the kitchen. It started with the equipment they had lying around or could buy in regular stores. For instance, they tested regular enameled cast iron pans but figured that wasn’t ideal either.
By looking at the professional baking industry, they came up with the idea of using professional silicone liners. Initially they got a liner that didn’t have the right shape and size, but it worked good enough for testing purposes. They immediately saw the benefit of using it, but also realized a good and fitting design would be essential.
At that point the main concepts were there, but she continued to improve shapes, sizes and materials until they ended up with the current design!
In the end they had a few prototypes of the cast irons pans as well as one silicone liner. Just one of everything is enough to prove your concept.
Finding a manufacturer
Shrivalli explains that especially finding suitable manufacturers and setting up a good working relationship was a true learning curve. She didn’t necessarily know any manufacturers before starting this adventure but found them thanks to online searches.
As a small (or tiny) business it can be hard to deal with very large manufacturers. It can be challenging to find the right contact persons and convince them that you’re credible. It took some persistance, but in the end Shrivalli managed to find suitable manufacturing parnters. She’s working together with suppliers she believes in and has a good relationship with them as well.
Starting a Kickstarter campaign
Last but not least, you have to start selling your product! For a lot of people who focus on the technical side of a development this is a totally different game. It’s not anymore about making the best product, but convincing others that it’s a great product and finding those people!
Shrivalli decided to start a Kickstarter campaign and they’re learning as they go. As with any launch or process, once you’ve done it once, you probably have a ton of things you’d like to do different. That said, they’ve been analyzing their analytics so far and are trying out new things along the way!
Selling on Amazon
Several months later and Shrivalli has passed the Kickstarter stage. She is now selling her product online through Amazon which is a whole next step in their development journey.
We ended our talk by discussing the future, did she have any ideas for future Kickstarter or product ideas? Shrivalli certainly has a lot of other ideas for improving cooking and baking. She explained a few, but they are still rough concepts so she’ll be pondering over them a bit more before sharing them with the world.
After we said goodbye I walked away inspired by her story. It’s not easy to develop a completely new product from scratch with no previous experience in the food world, but she did it! I hope it’s inspiring for those of you out there who’d also like to do something like this! If you’re interested in purchasing the LoafNest, have a look at our review in which we got to test it or buy it on Amazon (affiliate link)!