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Tuesday, April 23 2024
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Meet Mukund Kamath- The ‘Ideal’ Man

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Mangaluru has been referred to quite often as ‘coastal city’, ‘port city’, and also the city with the best beaches and fish. But apart from these titles, the city is known for something rather special and unique- The city of Ideal Ice Cream, Pabbas and “Gadbad”. And there are very few rather unlucky people who would not be familiar with these names.

There are two people behind this recognition- Prabhakar Kamath and his son Mukund Kamath. We bring to you an exclusive interview of this protégé who not only continued the legacy started by his father, but also took it to greater heights, bringing Mangaluru on the global map in the food industry.

Recently, Ideal Ice Cream’s Swiss Chocolate won the best in India Award as well as gold in the Chocolate category. Creamy Vanilla won gold in Vanilla category and Choco Chilli won bronze in the Most Innovative category.

This was the world’s biggest ice cream contest. Vasco de Sousa, one of the most renowned ice cream experts was the judge while Master Chef Kunal Kapoor was the chief guest who handed over the prizes.

Making a home within the home

Speaking to News Karnataka, Mukund Kamath shares some of the ‘sweetest’ memories of his journey with Ideal Ice Cream as it made its way to winning laurels like the Best ice cream in India as well as Gold Medals for certain flavours.

The start of this journey was in 1975 when the humble and focused Mr Prabhakar Kamath started Ideal Ice Cream for those with a sweet tooth.

“We started out with cups and family pack ice creams. I joined in with my father in 1995 and in 2003 we started a new factory in Kottara to enable an increase in production. That is when we ventured into novelty ice creams like cones, candies and the like. There has been no turning back since”, Mr Mukund says with a nostalgic smile.

The Secret Formula of Success

There is always that question that looms large about the one factor that makes a product or company successful in its venture. Not sparing this successful venture, as he was asked what the secret of his success was, he laughs and shares some of his trade secrets. Read on to know more. 

#1 Quality- Should get better or stay stagnant

There is nothing more important that the quality of a product says Mr Mukund, adding that at Ideal Ice Cream “we are very quality conscious”.

From the raw materials to the machinery involved, the company ensures high quality. It is a matter of pride that there has never been a time when the company has faced complaints about poor quality of ice creams. “We have testing labs that ensure the quality of the ingredients that we use. It is an in-house lab. Some items we also get tested from Bangalore”, he adds.

#2 Consumer is King- If he/she is satisfied you never need to advertise!

His very first comment on this was- “Profitability is the least of our concerns”. While he then assured that it does make the top 5 list of things to aim for while starting a business, he reiterated that if you keep your consumer happy, if you don’t need to worry about reaping the benefits as everything will fall into place.

“Ice cream is not an essential commodity; it is more of a pleasure. Hence, people expect better quality. And once you fall in love with the good taste you will come back to us”, he says with pride.

On being asked as to why Ideal Ice Cream doesn’t involve in a lot of outdoor or broadcast advertising, Mr Mukund says, “Our customers are our advertisements. Word-of-mouth publicity has worked best for us and hence we never required making elaborate campaigns to bring people to come to Ideals”.

Making Ideal’s a Lifestyle

Quite often we see youngsters post pictures and statuses about their trip to Ideal’s or Pabbas while some go to the extent of saying that “Ideal’s was the reason I made this trip home”.

On being asked about what it is that attracts people from all over to come “home” to Ideal’s and also makes people living here keep coming back, Mr Mukund says that Ideal’s is one of the few places that can replace an entire meal with an ice cream for an affordable price.

“You come here at any time during the day and you can fill your stomachs with one ice cream within Rs 80, while you go to any fancy restaurant you spend nearly Rs 200.

It is a pretty good deal, isn’t it”, he says and adds that it is also the factor of trust that brings people home. “We have made our ice cream a lifestyle for people”, he asserts.

Winning accolades- Behind the scenes

Recently, Ideal Ice Cream’s Swiss Chocolate won the best in India Award as well as gold in the Chocolate category. Creamy Vanilla won gold in Vanilla category and Choco Chilli won bronze in the Most Innovative category.

Mr Mukund, speaking about the process and work that goes into making he said, “The preparation for a competition of this stature is extreme hard work. For this event at least 15 months have gone into it making the products that were registered and won among 94 companies that participated”.

It doesn’t happen overnight, he says, explaining that the process involves test marketing as well. “Whether we improvise old products or make new ones, we give it to some customers at the parlour and get their feedback. We make around 2-3 ranges of the same product. Finally, after all the feedback and testing, I receive around 18 varieties of the same ice cream which I have to choose from. After picking one, that flavor goes into further improvisation to perfect it”, Mr Mukund says.

Apart from this, the chocolate that is bought, the formulation, minute changes, all this takes a very long time and requires a lot of patience, he says, adding, “We cannot worry about the cost”.

Theme Based Innovation

On being asked about the concepts and the creation of the ice cream thereof, Mr Mukund said that most of the ice creams are based on different themes. “Take tiramisu for example. It is based on an Italian dessert. We take concepts like that and develop the product. It is a backward process. We have a whole product/concept in mind and then we break it into the minutest details”, he said.

Further explaining this innovation process he says, “Tropical Dhamaka is another such innovation. Our theme was tropical ice cream- So we thought about what really makes something tropical- so we thought we’ll add chickoo, coconut barfi, mango- we added these elements and made a combination”.

We have a team of people who brainstorm- taste the products and decide based on a combined view, he said.

No Ideal Ice Cream parlour in Bengaluru?

Bad news for Bengalureans! The rumors of seeing an Ideal Ice Cream parlour in Bengaluru are not true. You will have to wait longer.
On being asked to address these social media rumors about setting up camp elsewhere, Mr Mukund confirmed that as of now they will not be branching out.

“We personally supervise all of the products that are made here. If we move out to other cities then we have to ensure that we look into the quality of products there as well. My father and I run this business. Hence it becomes a little difficult to devote time into branches out of Mangalore. Family is also important you see”, he says.

But nevertheless, hope is not lost as he confirmed that they do have plans of moving out of Mangalore.

“We are looking in to increasing production. I am setting up a new factory which will be ready in two years. Then we can have more production and then we will definitely move out. So maybe in around 5 years we can see ourselves set up in other cities”, he said.

Challenge Accepted

On being asked as to how they made a position as the market leaders, Mr Mukund once again stressed on the importance of consumer satisfaction and feedback. “We focus only on our customers. If they are satisfied we are satisfied. We make sure that we get their feedbacks on every product. If any customer gives us a suggestion, we take it positively. We have meetings based on suggestions from customers and then we modify if required”, he says.

Explaining this with an anecdote, he said, “After winning the Best vanilla in India at the previous competition, we threw a success party where a friend told me that our chocolate ice cream is not up to the mark. At that time I said that within a year I will make chocolate that will be better than all other products. And it made me proud to see that this year, chocolate won the best in class”.

Finally with a sparkle in his eye he said, “When someone tells me that our product is not the best, I take it as a challenge and want to make it better. We should always work to make it better”.

Make in India

On being asked as to where the raw materials are brought from or if they are imported from elsewhere, he said with a tone of pride, “We believe in Make in India. Earlier, we did import some materials from other countries, but from the past couple of years, we make or purchase all the materials in India only”.

Speaking about the launch of new products, he said that there a lot of products in the pipeline. “You can expect new and refreshing products within 2-3 months”, he said. 

Well, when it comes to Ideal Ice cream, we will all scream for more ice cream!

Meet Mukund Kamath- The ‘Ideal’ Man
Meet Mukund Kamath- The ‘Ideal’ Man

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