For Sandeep Kumar Gangaram, drinking refrigerated water brought more discomfort than relief. Cold water did not suit his system but in the scorching heat of Chennai, cold water is a necessity. As carrying bulky clay bottles to his class was too inconvenient, the IIT-Madras student decided to design his own supercool clay bottle.
Today, just over two years later, the Mechanical Engineer has sold nearly 2500 units of his ergonomically-designed bottle in and outside India!
Prepare for this summer with a bottle that looks and keeps water cool in naturally. Equip yourself with Kandy’s terracotta bottle by clicking on this link.
An IIT Engineer becomes a Sustainable Product Designer:
Although Sandeep is a Mechanical Engineer, his true passion lay elsewhere. He always had a knack for observing mundane things like doors, mugs and chairs and reimagining them to be more beautiful, more useful. He graduated from IIT Madras in 2015 and instead of diving straight into a full-time job, decided to work part-time as a Product Designer with T Pradeep, a Professor in the Chemistry department in his alma mater.
Professor Pradeep, a Padma Shri awardee (2020) has designed a machine that produces potable water from the air. Under his mentorship, Sandeep learned the basics of product designing.
“I started working as a part-time product designer with Prof. Pradeep in 2016 itself and joined Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CSIE), IIT Madras, in the same year. I got exposed to Product Design skills, the rural livelihood ecosystem and entrepreneurship by working there. So I never really left IIT,” says Sandeep.
As the muggy and hot Chennai weather kept bothering Sandeep, he wanted to find a way to have naturally cold water at hand. Unable to have any cold water from the fridge, Sandeep went back to traditions and bought a clay bottle instead. “The bottle was bulky, heavy and inconvenient to carry. I had always redesigned everyday products in my head to make them more utilitarian and as now I also had some experience in product designing, I directed this habit towards the simple, ordinary clay bottle,” the 25-year-old tells The Better India (TBI).
Sandeep used a 3D design software to redesign the widely available clay bottle to make it lighter and more compact.
“I started working on the bottle while working parallelly as Product Designer and at CSIE. The prototypes were getting ready by the start of 2017 and by the end of summer 2017 operations were in place.”
The result? This sleek-looking terracotta bottle with a cork cap. Want your desk to stay cool in an eco-friendly way? Click on this link to get Kandy’s bottles.
Slay with Clay:
“When I saw Kandy’s bottles, it reminded me of the clay pots we used to have at home. The reviews were also good so I decided to order them for my home use. As a doctor, I know that clay is better than plastic in many ways so I gave them a shot. Today, I have four terracotta bottles in my home and I even gifted one of the bottles to a couple on their wedding day,” says a much impressed Dr Asiya Shahima Khan, a resident of Chennai.
Long before refrigerators, clay pots served as a source of cold water. The porous nature of clay allows water to evaporate, leaving the water inside the bottle cool.
Sandeep is bringing back this age-old cooler but, with a modern touch. His team comprises of six core members and between 30-35 potters who make the bottles.
“When the first design was ready, I approached the potters in Chennai. I soon realised that my model was far from perfect since the potters created something completely different from what I had imagined. After a little back and forth, we finally succeeded in making a bottle that wasn’t bulky or out of shape. I put a cork cap on it, packed it in a jute cushioned bag and gave a few prototypes to my siblings to try. Mind you, I hadn’t planned a project as big as Kandy yet,” the IIT alumnus shares with TBI.
But once people started inquiring about the beautiful bottle and showed interest in buying it, Sandeep saw a business opportunity. “They were willing to pay for something that I had created! The feeling was fantastic and I didn’t want to give it up. So I accelerated my efforts, met more potters and finally found a team on the outskirts of Puducherry that made the bottles using casting techniques,” he tells us.
The project was ambitious but the logistical and financial support from IIT Madras played a crucial role in realising Sandeep’s dream venture.
The Cool Features of Kandy’s bottles:
- Made of terracotta, these bottles will maintain a temperature between 23-26°C- even on a hot day!
- The cooling ability depends on the outside temperature and humidity but you won’t notice any extremes in how cool or warm the water is.
- With a curve in the middle, the bottles are designed for better grip
- The caps are made of cork, another eco-friendly alternative to plastic
- Sandeep has designed jute bags to provide cushioning to the bottles that prevent them from cracking. A rope closure tightens the bag and allows you to carry it easily.
- The bottles come in two sizes – 950 ml and 650 ml. The bigger one weighs around 450 gm and the smaller one, around 350 gm.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)