Launch HN: The Buttermilk Company (YC S18) – Homemade Indian Food in 5 Minutes

By mitraraman - 19 hours ago

Showing first level comment(s)

You will have a hard time balancing the spice levels. You can't satisfy both Indian and non-Indian demographic or you will have to have a spicy, less spicy type of each item. As an Indian, I cant stand the westernized non spicy versions of the supposedly authentic Indian foods. So I wouldn't buy them nor eat in those type of Indian restaurants. Its the same case vice versa. Non Indians may not like the spicy versions.

Another thing to note that though its called "Indian food", there is no thing as an "Indian food", just like not everyone from India knows Hindi.

Indian food varies drastically as you travel from North to South, East to West. But for westerners, its mainly butter chicken/daal/Vindaloo/Paratha/Chapathi. For someone from South India, it will be Dosa/Appam/Idly/Idiappam/Pongal/Avial/Sambhar/Rasam or Fish curry. One of your challenges lies in catering to the Indian & Non Indians palettes alike. Greetings from Canada.

t1o5 - 16 hours ago

How is this any different from MTR's line of products?[1]

And given that MTR's products cost just $2.50 per pack where I currently live, $24 isn't exactly cheap. I haven't tasted your product, but I have tasted the MTR ones and they seem pretty authentic. And MTR being a very old, traditional brand, it's as authentic as it gets. Would love to hear about your differentiation strategy.


neya - 19 hours ago

I think you should consider your addressable market to be greater than Indian expats - I'm a Brit and I miss my curry living here as much as anyone from India!

Two quick thoughts:

1) I don't get your branding, especially the company name, and especially as all of your meals are vegan.

2) Shipping meat-based meals is presumably a very different and more expensive logistical challenge so I get the reason why there's no meat in these but it seems as though these packets could easily be combined with pan-cooked chicken to make a more substantial meal - is that the case and is that something you've considered promoting as part of the marketing?

I wish you the very best of luck!

dotBen - 19 hours ago

This seems like you are working off of TastyBite's playbook:

> The options were expensive, time-consuming, or tasted horrible.

Tasty bite tastes decent, takes 60-90 seconds to heat up, and costs about $3/package with no need for refrigeration.


This seems like a YC to clone TastyBite without any differentiation beyond the nebulous "quality food".


Are you telling me your quality is so much better a household staple of my life is going to be replaced for twice the price?


$15 for 6 packages / 60 oz.

$13.50 for 3 packages / 30 oz(?)

EvilEndures - 18 hours ago

I haven’t tried the food, but it seems like you are making real, high quality food. I think the “ship fresh” angle is interesting and worth experimenting with. I wish you the best and will follow the journey on Instagram!

Others in this thread seem dubious that quality could be a differentiator, but I think you should double down on that. It’s not just ingredients, but technique that makes food delicious and if you can truly scale proper par-cooking technique, that will be a strong core for your business, and difficult to copy from the outside.

I also think you are absolutely correct to focus on a core market who loves real Indian food. There’s no price you can put on your family’s home cooking, which makes it a good market for you to start in low volume.

Just a random idea as you grow: you might try supporting an “experiment community” the way Soylent did. I think that forum became They encouraged people to share and develop their own recipes.

In the long term, you will need to compete against “monoculture” brands who are selling one size fits all products. Because you aren’t storing inventory, you will be positioned to sell a wider selection of products, even short runs of one-off special foods. Could be another differentiator.

erikpukinskis - 18 hours ago

I don't think I'm exactly in your target market, but I have a related problem: We cook a lot of healthy foods at home (e.g. skinnytaste), and Indian recipes are the only ones that never come out.

I suspect it is because we never get the spices right. We went to an indian cooking class many years ago, and the woman who taught it hand ground all the spices herself. The results were amazing, but who has the time?

If you had a service that coupled premixed spices with recipes that use them, that would have been really exciting to me.

We can already buy various pre-made pastes/mixes at the grocery store, but they are really unhealthy.

If we could get the spices, then have control of all the fresh ingredients (meats, veggies) and also all the unhealthy ingredients (salt, anything with fat, etc), that would be attractive to me.

I know that is not what you are doing, but just for the future (a) spices are cheaper to mail and shelf-stable (b) the spice mix is probably the secret sauce of what makes it taste good, and it is difficult to duplicate in my experience (c) leaving the other ingredients out would allow home users to follow either a healthy recipe (fat free yogurt) or special occasion recipe (heavy cream!)

Anyway, FWIW, when I read the first lines of your description, that is what I was hoping for.

ttcbj - 14 hours ago


The website has a really clean look - it makes the product seem delicious and authentic. The minimalist design compliments the minimalism of the product.

I would be careful with identifying your target market. I live in Chicago, which I believe has one of the highest percentages of Indian immigrant populations in the nation. This might seem like your target market - but in fact the large percentage of immigrants has led to a slew of Indian markets and restaurants, that are likely equally delicious and cheap. It is a common theme among my coworkers to bring in homecooked Indian meals on a daily basis.

I also noticed the Upma pack is listed as gluten-free, but contains semolina. That's just asking for legal trouble from those with Celiac's. It might be worth consolidating all of the different packages and their ingredients lists on a separate page, QAing them, and making them more available to the reader in an organized, possibly drop-down format. Hope this feedback is useful.


elhudy - 19 hours ago

Ordered, and excited to try! That free shipping offer got me to go back and add an item, so kudos. Once I taste the product, I might just submit a pav bhaji recipe.

Can't comment on pricing until I taste and get a sense of quantity. Certainly reasonable enough to let me try.

Some feedback on the site: - Love the pastel colors and packaging design. Very clean, with excellent photos. Any concern about appearing too feminine for your target customer? - I feel like the "Details" should already be open when I go to a product page. I ended up having to twirl it open each time I visited a page. Also annoying that the Drift pop-up covered up those details every time! - I got confused about bundles, quantities, and meal counts, and just ended up ordering enough to get free shipping. Maybe that's the intent? - Loved the "How to Eat" section. Helped me decide what to buy, but once again, it was hidden. - I would suggest left aligning your text on product descriptions. Centered text is harder to read, especially with the bulleted lists. - I want more imagery of the food! Photos of the ingredients! Videos of the cooking process! "How to Eat" as a video or photo series, instead of text!

bendoidic - 12 hours ago

+ Good name

+ Good package design especially color palette

+ Good website

- Expensive for packaged food

- Nothing that stood out (from comments) as strong differentiator from competitors (that they can not do)

- Unclear target market, this is what I gathered from comments, people

    * Who don't have access to Indian restaurants

    * Who don't have time or know how to cook Indian food at home

    * Who don't have access to competitors products 

       ** Hard to make case here as all major retailers sell one or other Indian food packages, and for everyone else there is Amazon Prime

    * Who have access to restaurants, have time or know how to cook but would instead prefer to spend about same amount of money on packaged food as they would by ordering it with food delivery services.

I might be completely wrong but IMO this is commodity business, unless you are building robots which can cook millions of packages of custom made Indian food for everyone.

pravint - 7 hours ago

You seem to be getting some unnecessary hate in the comments here. I think this is a good idea, although the market is a bit crowded. But as a Pakistani, I would try this out once in a while when I'm abroad. Its also nice that your meals are vegan. Good luck!

aliakhtar - an hour ago