LoafNest: How a new way to bake bread was developed

After testing the LoafNest and seeing how well it works, it was time to get to know the inventors of this new tool a little better. If you’ve missed the review: LoafNest is a new kit that makes bread baking a lot easier. It is not easy to come up with these kinds of new concepts within food and make them successful. It is hard to be truly innovative and useful at the same time. But it’s possible, as the inventors behind LoafNest have shown. It’s a great story for anyone interested in developing a new cooking or baking tool.

LoafNest can be bought through a Kickstarter campaign only (which was funded successfully in March 2018).

Please note, we have not received any financial compensation for writing about or testing the LoafNest.

What is Loafnest?

Loafnest is a tool to bake bread at hom without a lot of effort. Apart from a bowl to mix your ingredients for the bread you won’t need anything else than the Loafnest. In a separate post we’ve actually tested the Loafnest, so if you’d like to learn more, have a look there.

Loafnest has several smart tweaks that make it different from a conventional cast iron pan to bake your bread. They have added a silicone liner which makes it easier to remove the bread. Also, they’ve designed the pan in such a way that there is no way the moisture can really accumulate in the pan itself. In order to get to this design, they’ve had to do quite some testing and prototyping and that’s exactly what we interviewed them about.

Introducing the inventor of Loafnest

The inventor behind Loafnest is a Shrivalli Bhat. She grew up in India, but now lives in the Netherlands. She has a PhD in physics, in other words, a true scientist, who happens to have a passion for bread baking. We had the chance to interview her with regards to the development process for this new tool.

First thing I was offered when visiting was, of course, a slice of freshly baked bread, made with the LoafNest. The flavour of the day: a new experiment, carrot cumin bread (cumin & bread work great!). The loaf had the distinct shape that I had seen on the Kickstarter campaign, with a nice round bottom and a great oven spring of the bread at the top. While munching on my slice of bread (I’m a bread fan, so you couldn’t make me happier) we got to talk about bread baking, the LoafNest and the route she’d taken to come to this LoafNest Kickstarter campaign.

bread comparison Loafnest vs regular
Loafnest on the left and a regular cast iron pan on the right, there’s quite a difference even though they’ve followed all the same steps.

The problem LoafNest tries to solve

Bread baking was already an interest of Shrivalli. She enjoys eating freshly baked bread. However, being a scientist, she saw plenty of ways to improve the process and shorten it. All the kneading, proofing and shaping of bread baking make it time consuming and hard to fit in a daily life. She ran into no-knead recipes and while testing those, she soon started testing new pans and kits to bake her bread in. Often these just weren’t the most convenient, did heat as evenly or didn’t give as crusty a crust as she might have wanted.

That’s how the idea of LoafNest started to grow. It wasn’t an immediate clear vision, but came out of the need for a simpler and faster way to bake high quality breads. As you will with a lot of these developments, 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

The development really started in the kitchen, Shrivalli tells. It started with the equipment they already had in their house or that you could buy in regular stores. They used some regular enameled cast iron pans but figured that wasn’t ideal.

After some trials and testing they came up with the idea of using professional silicone liners. Initially they managed to get a hold of 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. The silicone liner didn’t fit in the pan that well, but it worked good enough to try and test the concept. From there 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 a silicone liner. Just one of everything is enough to prove your concept. Keep that in mind, if you even want to develop something like this, you don’t need 20 expensive prototypes! You can often keep it simple while still developing a high quality product.

Finding a manufacturer

When you develop your own product and form your own business, you will quickly learn skills since you have to do everything yourself. If you’re a scientist you will have probably developed a lot of research and analytical skills. Also, you’re used to explaining concepts and ideas. However, you might have never negotiated a deal or done your financial administration.

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 and several learning, but in the end Shrivalli was very successful. She’s working together with suppliers she believes in and has a good relationship with.

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!

Future ideas

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 go to the Kickstarter campaign immediately!

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