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Rajesh Bhaktinathan, CoFounder at Cafeidly

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Rajesh Bhaktinathan : Café Idly is a self-funded ,privately owned business started by Rajesh and Dinesh in Bengaluru in the year 2010. Café Idly was started as a result of a problem encountered by its founders. The boring experience of consuming their favourite South Indian food in the regular hotels(known as Darshinis & Sagars) & other restaurants. All these food joints looked the same & customer experience factor was missing.

We set out to fix the problem.Being rock music fans we thought we combine the both, classic rock music + traditional south indian food and thus ‘Cafe Idly’ was born.

Great Companies: What are the various Services provided by Cafeidly

Rajesh Bhaktinathan :

  • Apart from providing over the counter services to the walk-in customers

  • We do home delivery of our menu items and packaged food

  • We do corporate breakfast catering services

  • We are planning to launch pre-paid home delivery services of Idli/dosa Batter in our neighborhood soon.

  • We also fulfill Bulk orders for batter and other packaged foods

Great Companies: What makes Cafeidly different from hundreds of other F&B Firms?

Rajesh Bhaktinathan : There are many differentiating factors. Firstly, Café Idly disrupts the conventional experience of customers consuming traditional South Indian food. The concept behind Cafe Idly is traditional south-indian food served with a touch of Music. hence you will find a Electric guitar hanging on the wall soaking in all the spotlight as soon as you step into Cafe Idly. Here is the extract from our first feature on Times Of India : Traditional fast food served with a classic rock touch ever tried a bite of steaming hot and butter-soft idlis dipped in spicy coconut chutney,to the sound of rock numbers by Eric Clapton and the Beatles Call it an odd mismatch Its just part of the smart food for smart people as the board at Cafe Idly says. One step in,and theres a rather interesting combo.The Cafe is a small place,just enough space to stand in line and grab a bite.The name tempts you in and once you enter,more than the idlis,its the ambience and simple,innovative thinking that makes you stay and even come again.An electric guitar hangs on the wall and the long-playing records of the good-old gramophone days,are on display. In the background are rocking melodies of yesteryear. As you tuck into the hot fluffy stuff,you think:Gosh! When did I last hear this…..

Secondly, We are also different from other F&B businesses in terms of what we offer,,we specialise in different innovative variations of idlis, apart from the common idli, we offer Tatte Idli(a shallow idli in the shape of a plate), Kanchipuram Idli(idli with spices and dhals),Idli Manchurian and the most famous of all, the Idli Burger. Idli Burger is our own creation ,it has idlis for buns and chutneys for sauces and it is a huge hit not only with the media but also with our customers. We have also had what we call 'The Dizzler' as a part of our menu – Its Idli in a sizzler format. Ability to produce Innovative products such as Idli Burger ,Dizzler etc help us to differentiate from the market.

As our tagline "smart food for smart people" suggests we believe and its a truth that Idli is one of the most healthy foods one can have.Hence its a smart thing to go for idlis than other substitutes.

Our VISION is to take idlis to the international market and promote it as the Healthiest Fast Food. Thirdly,our packaged food product line: Cafe Idly offers wide range of Natural and Healthy Packaged Food Products such as 1. Idli/Dosa batter Batter produced using freshest Ingredients, with no preservatives, follow natural fermentation. 2. Chutney powder We have the common varieties as well as Healthy Chutney powders such as Drumstick leaf chutney powder,Bitter gourd chutney powder,Flax Seeds chutney powder

3. Healthy & Natural Sukku Malli(dry ginger coffee) powder Excellent Home Remedy for Cold, Cough, Indigestion, Headache INGREDIENTS:DRY GINGER, PEPPER , CUMIN, CARDAMOM,CORIANDER SEEDS. 4. Natural Cold Pressed Oils. Cafeidly Cold Pressed oil are oils extracted in a much healthier process compared to refined oils. In this process, seeds are not tortured at high temperature or subjected to harsh chemicals.Instead extraction is being done at temperature below 35 °C ensuring the oil maintains its character. Once the oil settles, it is just filtered and bottled

We have got very good response from our customers for all these products especially the Batter and we are planning to start selling Idli/Dosa batter at the commercial level through retail stores. And also, our batter is produced as per ‘Documented processing technique’ created with help from CFTRI(Mysore) , after analysing our batter. Fermentation time for batter is saved by 75% by this technique. This technique has helped us extremely in streamlining our operations. All this Brand differentiation has resulted in huge media coverage on

BBC World News ,CNBC Young Turks, TV9 News , Radio City, Times of India, Indian Express, Deccan Herald, Deccan Chronicles, Mid-day,The Hindu DNA, mybangalore , Bangaore Mirror, Outlook Money Magazine, Intuit Small Business India blog, iamanentrepreneur, Yourstory,Timeout Bengaluru and many more We also got a certificate from Restaurant Guru recognizing us as One of their 'Recommended Restaurants in 2020'

Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?

Rajesh Bhaktinathan : As you will know , challenges are part & parcel at any stage of business, some of the challenges that we face on a regular basis are a. Finding the right people; b. Cost effective marketing; and c. Smart product-pricing keeping in mind the ever-increasing inflation. But by far the on-set of COVID-2019 pandemic has affected , especially the F&B sector in a very negative way. Though it’s been challenging we are glad that we were able to mitigate the challenges and are now concentrating on the way forward.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Cafeidly?

Rajesh Bhaktinathan : Having spent a good amount of time in the business now we are looking to grow through the Franchise model,We have been receiving many franchise inquiries off-late and currently we are working on documentation and supply-chain managementand we will be ready to give franchisees.

We are also planning to get into commercial idli/dosa batter production and sales.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Rajesh Bhaktinathan : “We are regretful of the things we don't do, so if you have a dream don’t wait for the right time, start small and dream big”



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