In March 2006, four friends and alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras connected from different parts of the globe and started talking. Ajit Narayanan worked as a storage engineer with American Megatrends Inc. In California, Aswin Chandrasekaran was an analyst managing product strategy for Capital One Financial Services Inc. in Washington DC. Adib Ibrahim was doing technology consulting at KPMG in Dubai. And Preetham Shivanna was a software engineer with Infosys Technologies, in Mysore, India.
They started talking about their desire “to build a product-based company that would solve some real problems of India.” By mid 2007, the four were all in Chennai, and had set up shop as Invention Labs. They began by providing services in building electronic systems and designing embedded systems for other companies. They have since made their first foray into building a product - ‘Milk Tree,’ a vending machine for milk sachets.
The Producer Cooperatives and Supply Chain
In India, the supply chain for milk from the dairy farm to the customer has five or six links. First, small dairy farmers, typically owners of one or two cows, deliver milk to the local collection point often located at the village itself. From here it is transported to a Bulk Milk Cooling centre, which is the first point of refrigeration. Next the milk is transported to a processing plant. Processing plants are usually located on the outskirts of towns and cities. A large metro like Chennai has two, catering to the northern and southern neighbourhoods respectively.
It is also here at the processing plant that the milk is treated for homogenisation, plus other value addition, like skimming, pasteurisation and so on..
From the processing plant the milk is transported to warehouses in different localities inside the city from where it is supplied to the milk dealers of the city. The final link in this chain...