You have probably picked idli dosa batter right off the shelves and enjoyed a healthy breakfast too, but do you know the story behind it? iD idli dosa batter that has become a must keep handy in every household, is actually the innovative idea of entrepreneur PD Musthafa who founded the packed food company iD Fresh Food. Today the home-grown brand backed by Helion Ventures and Premji Invest has ended FY2021 with INR 294 crore in revenue, up from INR 238 crore in FY2020. It has registered a 23.5 percent growth making 55,000 kg of batter daily and selling over 50,000 packets per day. Musthafa’s rags to riches story is here to inspire every entrepreneur who wants to make it BIG!
A Rough Beginning
PC Musthafa grew up in a remote village in the Chennalode in Wayanad district in Kerala. His mother was a housewife, and his father was a coolie who worked in coffee plantations. While still studying in school, Musthafa would often help his father Ahmed at work to earn a few extra rupees to feed a family of six. At the age of 10, he set up makeshift shops to sell sweets on weekends and during the summer holidays. But when he failed in Standard VI, unable to cope with work and studies, his parents pulled him out of school.
But PC Musthafa did not want that. He remembers he wanted to go back to school as they provided a midday meal. He promised his father he would earn for the family and study in his spare time. Young determined Musthafa now worked extra hard. After a lot of struggle and hard work, he finally completed Standard X, and with a scholarship from a non-governmental organization, he enrolled for engineering at the National Institute of Technology, Calicut. It was his turning point No.1.
The Overseas Job
PC Musthafa, like many others before him, left his village in Wayanad to go overseas to work. He worked with MNCs like Motorola, Citibank, and Intel in Europe and the Middle East to earn a better livelihood. The family was finally beginning to see happy days. But in 2004, PC Musthafa decided to leave it all behind and return to India.
Along with his cousins Abdul Nazar, Shamsudeen T K, Jafar T K, and Noushad T A, he spent the next nine months in a 50 sq ft kitchen in Tippasandra, Bangalore, learning to make the perfect idli-dosa batter. After consulting many grandmoms and moms, the men went around on a scooty delivering batter door to door. Once they started selling about 100 packets of batter a day, Musthafa knew it was time to set up a company. In 2005, he founded the company iD Fresh Food. It was turning point No. 2.
A tough decision
Just when Musthafa set up iD Fresh Food and started to sell idli batter, he was approached by a reputed five-star hotel chain to supply them with thousands of packets of diamond cuts, a snack extremely popular in Indian homes as the ubiquitous samosa. For his newly established and struggling food enterprise, this was the perfect opportunity.
So, Musthafa approached the hotel chef to understand how they use the diamond cuts. He gathered it was the perfect bar snack. This food item did not blend with his breakfast menu and made him somewhat uneasy about being associated indirectly with the business of liquor.
He turned down the golden opportunity. Musthafa recalls, “I felt like crying, not because we lost the order, but because the Almighty had given me the courage to take that decision.”
But the decision helped the company decide who they were and what they wanted to be known for. It was clear from that moment on that iD Fresh Food would assist home chefs in kitchens across India with packed healthy food.
iD idli dosa growth begins
In 2007, the company opened its first plant at Hoskote, Bangalore, and in 2008, PC Musthafa took over as CEO of iD Fresh Foods. According to PC Musthafa, to grow as a successful brand, we did two things – firstly, “scaled up from a family business, and brought in several professionals,” and, secondly “teamed up with a German company to develop heavy-duty grinders that can grind thousands of kilos every hour.”
Today, many homes in Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Vijaywada, Vizag, Rajahmundry, Chennai, Ernakulam, Coimbatore, Cochin, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and even in the US, begin their day with home-style, fresh, preservative-free breakfast products from iD.
The iD Fresh food brand that stands for consistency and quality uses attractive zip-locked bags to keep food fresh for four-seven days. Their product range includes: –
- Idli & Dosa batter
- Malabar Parota
- Natural Paneer
- Rice Rava Idly Batter
- Wheat Parota
- Wheat Chapati
- Just Heat Kulchas
- Garlic Naan
- Instant Filter Coffee Liquids
- Squeeze and Fry Vada Batter
- Grated Coconut In A Coconut
- Smart Sip Tender Coconut
- Natural Thick Curd
The Harvard Case Study
iD’s success story has become a case study at Harvard.
At Harvard, he talked about the vada batter with a patented spout which iD Fresh Foods had only recently launched. “It’s a crunchy deep-fried snack. It is somewhat like a savory doughnut. It’s a fantastic snack, but it’s also one of the most difficult things to make for most.”
Awards, Acknowledgement, and Appreciation
- Brand Leadership Award 2018
- Best Food Marketing Idea 2016
- Vocational Excellence Award 2016
- India’s Small Giants Season 2016
- Best Packaging Design, 2015 iD Idli Dosa Batter Pack
- Entrepreneur of the year in Manufacturing Business – FMCG
- Big Bang Awards – Best Packaging Design, 2014 iD Idli Dosa Batter Pack
- Indian Achievers Award 2012
(Information credits: iDFresh Food)
An Entrepreneur, a Visionary
Musthafa has not forgotten his humble beginnings. Today, he brings in unskilled people from villages and trains them at his world-class facility. He has also built 100+ economically viable homes for people who were living under tarpaulin sheets in Kodagu.
During the peak of the lockdown when most stores had to pull down their shutters, he led the company to distribute its batters, dairy products, and filter coffee decoction to residential complexes directly.
For PC Musthafa, a labourer’s son, every Turning Point counts!