Finnant Designs: Where IOT Met The Beverage Industry

Shrikant Gothe , Managing Director

Shrikant Gothe

Managing Director

The Internet of Things(IoT)is one of the most hyped technology trends in decades. As the digital revolution sweeps through manufacturing, the pressures to modernize and invest in advanced technology can be overwhelming. Picking the right problem statement to address is where it’s all won. Bengaluru based Finnant Designs decoded the art of winning by addressing a peculiar ‘bottleneck’. In a fortunate turn of events, 4 industry experts came together with a creative innovator to start a revolution in the Beverage industry and establish Finnant Designs. With background in beverage dispensing, mechanical engineering, Hardware & software, these gentlemen ended up working in a F&B customer project. The next IoT era is already transforming the food and beverage industry from being reactive to proactive to predictive. Particularly, there is a ‘lot’ of over pouring. When you get down to the specifics, there are two kinds of overpouring: unintentional ‘eye balling’ or a complimentary top off. Like overpouring, theft takes two forms. If a bottle (or a case) disappears from inventory, that’s sunk cost. If something is served but never makes it into your point-of-sale, that’s lost revenue. Taking a top down approach into designing the most sophisticated alcohol dispenser for the F&B Industry, Finnant Designs have made a remarkable entry to the IoT domain as a startup.

“Personally, we also really enjoy our whiskey. So, while visiting the watering holes over few months, it became evident to us that hand pouring of drinks, the lost revenue due to pilferage, non-availability of instant sales data, & absence of a well-designed dispensers, specifically designed to handle alcohol (in all its varieties) would be a niche offering, especially after tying it into an IoT platform”, explains Shrikant Gothe, Managing Director, Finnant Designs. With Prashant Rao, the creative brain and an alumnus of NID, Ahmedabad and a student at IIM Bangalore on board, Finnant was able to add a great deal of aesthetics, user experience & overall brand strategy to the product. “Jayateertha Malagi is another person we owe our success to. He is a dispenser domain expert with exceptional engineering & design skills. He has several patents to his credit in related fields. As a friend & pro bono consultant, he has been advising us on all technical topics from the very beginning”, says Shrikant.

IoT has become one of the critical elements within Finnant Designs offerings. Through its sensing systems, coupled with back-end analytics, Finnant Designs has been able to clearly demonstrate the benefits of on demand data availability, reduced pilferage, reduce manual efforts, precise dispense measurements & ability to tweak the offerings/ price in real time to the customers. “Although we understood physical product startups is hard work, we have made a conscious choice to invest time & efforts into developing niche products in beverage dispensing domain”, adds Shrikant.

The Yester Years of Finnant’s Road to Success
Finnant took its baby steps with a focus on solving various technical challenges specific to alcohol. Therefore, a lot of development activity was focused on fluidics, metering and precision. There was also a need to understand how excise department, department of weights & measures, customers & consumers would view this approach. Once these pieces were in place, the IoT piece of the puzzle, such as analytics of usage, consumption patterns, pump performance, remote diagnostics etc. were integrated. From the various trade shows, customer interactions and discussions with F&B brand owners, Finnant identified a clear trend towards IoT enabled data & related services to become more & more critical. This was a clear opportunity and Finnant Designs was equipped with the best minds to take advantage of it. Additionally, the firm is investing significant technical work into finding novel ways of using various fluidics elements, sensors & metering to suit different
beverage & mixology, all packaged in a beautiful and user centric form factors.

The Fountain is a Statement
Finnant Designs has built two major products called Fountain 8G and Fountain 8S. Fountain is a highly tech enabled alcohol dispenser that has been taking the world of merry time providers by storm. “Fountain is not just a dispenser but also a statement. A statement for Bars/Pubs to really shoutout that they serve genuine volume of their liquor”, adds Prashant Rao, Creative Innovation Strategist, Finnant Designs. In line with this idea, Finnant decided to bring the product to the front of the barcounter. To avoid a confused face addressing the happy faces that must enjoy their time, Finnant created Fountain G or Glass. The glass surface has an inbuilt illumination system which can morph into any colour which the bar is sporting. More so, being at the peak of their creative self, Finnant went ahead and observed the industry carefully, which undid the curtain to a critical aspect about the industry. Anyone in India is allowed to do only passive advertisements for this industry, implying that alcohol companies are allowed to do active promotions only at wine shops and pubs/bars. This rang a bell of yet another opportunity for Finnant and the firm now looked forward to capitalise on this. Hence, the Finnant team took a step ahead and built Fountain S or Screen. This variant of Fountain has a 40” Screen built into it, which allows companies to advertise their products right on the counter, where there is maximum service traffic. This in turn is another revenue model for Pub owners as they get to decide what to showcase on the screen, for how long, or maybe just choose to showcase their Happy hour promotions or live offers.

Finnant designs is eyeing to showcase their design ingenuity towards more unidentified problems in the beverage industry

The Ups and Downs Couldn’t Stop Finnant’s Momentum to Create
The lack of detailed certification guidelines for a drink (Alcohol) dispenser in India was a major challenge Finnant met with. Most of the drink dispensers in the past were imported which used to work on a different methodology for dispensing that made them slow and cumbersome to operate. Finnant had to formulate a new set of certification guidelines after multiple discussions with CFTRI and Department of Weights & Measures. Besides, the sourcing of custom built parts had been another challenge as Prashant informs. With almost 40 vendors supplying various parts of the dispenser, a good amount of time and energy was spent finalizing the right vendors for all the 500+ parts that goes into the dispenser.

“The bartending has remained almost unchanged since its inception. The dispenser does this by pouring directly into the glass where each drop is digitally controlled. This is a culture change”, says Shrikant.

Finnant has been able to get its approvals from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and certification from Regional reference Standard Laboratory(RRSL). Finnant takes pride to state that the 30ml and 60ml is precise as certified by the govt.

Team Finnant Designs

Having started with just 15 lakhs sourced from the supportive friends and families of the founding members, an old friend, Vikram pitched in with his funds which helped Finnant sail through its tough times. Finnant is now being approached by a number of investors to fund its next range of products and plans.

Finnant continues to work on smaller versions of Fountain dispenser, an innovative new approach to bar tending and dispensing, non-Alco beverage dispenser and couple of other products. Lately, Finnant is subjected to increased interest especially from Alco Beverage companies. A company went ahead and quote, “the way the bottles are mounted and highlighted, has been improving our brand visibility”. Through its channel partner, Finnant Designs has finalized distributors in almost 8 to 10 states.

More Innovations Lined Up
Having started with one problem statement, specific to alcohol beverage dispensing, Finnant Designs is eyeing to showcase their design ingenuity towards more unidentified problems in the Beverage industry. Withan overwhelming response to its very limited field trials & demos at trade shows, Finnant Designs now has agreements for developing custom offerings based Fountain 8G & 5S. The company is also in discussion with several other major brand owners (both alcohol & non alcohol) to develop products specifically designed to meet their current challenges, especially when one moves from a retail packaging to a dispensed format. Additionally, Finnant is also working on identifying niche segments within craft brews, mixology & new flavour additions. As a strategy, Finnant Designs will be known for its niche offerings, even in matured segments such as soft drink dispensing. “Ours is a core engineering centric organization, with IoT as an enabler & not the other way around”, says Shrikant. Shrikant adds to inform that the market will see them developing many unique products that do not exist yet in the F&B industry. Clearly, with such a dynamic approach to an industry untouched by IoT, Finnant Designs can become the torch bearer for a revolution of sorts.