This company is trying to introduce people to Ayurveda, through a substitute for tea and coffee
Early this year, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Chiranjeev Shrivastava and his team at A&Y (Ayurveda and Yoga) had decided to launch a health drink, Brahmaveda, before immunity and other health terminology were bandied about.
The idea revolved around developing a vending machine that would dispense plant-based drinks. These would be derived from the roots, leaves, or stems of giloy, triphala, ashwagandha, and other beneficial herbage, as talked about in Ayurveda.
In January, after about nine months of R&D, the machine (patent pending) was ready, where a company could opt for a minimum of six herbs. Shrivastava was hoping to market it in spaces where coffee and tea were traditionally served (offices, salons, restaurants). His worry was that people would not buy into the taste. “That has changed after the lockdown, and people are now more accepting,” he says, adding that he currently has an order from Glam Studio branches.
Each drink costs the subscriber (an office, for instance), ₹5 to ₹10, which is at par with coffee and tea. A company may choose to give it as an employee benefit or charge cost price for it, while a restaurant may price it up.
The machine has a minimum of six canisters, with one for water and the other five for the herbs. A glass makes up 10 ml of the extract and 90 ml of water. However, the machine can be customised to fit as few as two or as many as 60 herbs – they currently come as a liquid decoction or powder. The size has a radius of 1 foot and a height of 2.5 feet, constructed out of steel, with a copper coating.
“Futher customisation is possible — a company may want a particular shape for its brand identity, and we work on that too,” says Shrivastava, who sources herbs from Herbal Hills that produces in India and is USDA Organic-certified.
In an office, a user can access which herb they would like from an app that gives the benefits of each, making the machine touch-free. In a setting that sees visitors who may not want to download an app, a user can simply select from a list that details the uses of the herb.
“An Ayurvedic doctor can also visit a company and do a check-up of all its employees. Once a health profile of the office has been made — say many people have diabetes or are smokers, a mix of herbs can also be suggested,” says Shrivastava. So a particular canister may have a mix of two or more herbs.
Shrivastava, who has been operating in the space of preventive healthcare for eight years, with previous jobs and with his own company A&Y that has Ayurveda retreats, says he sees the drink as a funnel to bring people into the Ayurveda fold. While the retreats, in Rishikesh and Bangkok, are the service, this is the product part of the business that he founded a year-and-a-half ago.
Recently, the company tied up with Brabo Robotics for manufacturing the machine. In the future, Shrivastava hopes to be able to integrate AI features into the dispensing machine. “I want to develop a face recognition functionality to help detect a person’s prakriti (a person’s make-up) and ama (toxins) — this is spelt out in the Charak Samhita, the Ayurveda text on herbs.” This analysis will then prompt the system to recommend a herbal drink.
In another progression, he hopes to feed information from the text, as well as Ayurvedic doctor prescriptions for particular conditions. The dispensing machine, with the aid of an app, would then be able to suggest drinks for the user, based on inputs by them.
Some day, he also hopes to develop a wearable that will keep a track of the doshas and toxins within the body, so that people can adjust their daily routine and lifestyle accordingly.