The Yomee pod-based yogurt system

With everyone nowadays seemingly trying to get their daily fill of probiotics, yogurt has become a go-to for a daily snack, tasty dessert or healthy way to start the day. For most of us, that means buying it at the store or heading out to get a sugar-filled frozen yogurt at the local froyo stand.

And while some are adventurous enough to create at home using one of the many home yogurt makers on the market, none of these devices offer make-at-home yogurt with Keurig like simplicity.

Until now. That’s because two new startups are coming to market with pod-based yogurt systems. And the good news for yogurt eaters? They will have our choice of fresh or frozen.

Yomee 

If you like fresh yogurt and want to make it at home, you will be interested in the Yomee from Food-X alumni, Lecker Labs. The original concept for a pod-based yogurt maker came to the company CEO Ashok Jaiswal when he and his wife started feeding their young daughter yogurt and were looking for an easy way to make it at home.

“When we found out that she loves yogurt, we wanted to buy good ones for her, but almost all yogurts sold in Hong Kong are expensive,” Jaiswal told the Loop. “They’re also often imported and therefore not fresh, and can contain lots of sugar and other ingredients.

When his wife asked him if he could make a device to make yogurt, he started researching the idea.

“I thought that there must have been so many in the market already, but when I Googled and checked on Amazon, I found that there were no fully automatic yogurt makers in the market.”

Jaiswal teamed up with cofounder Tu-Hien Le and soon raised $325 thousand in seed funding. The two were accepted into Food-X, a well-known food startup accelerator based in New York, and from there they went on to create Yomee.

To make yogurt with the Yomee, you put in milk and a Yomee pod (which will make approximately two servings of yogurt). The Yomee hardware stirs the milk, heats it to 185 degrees Fahrenheit and adds the cultures from the Yomee pod. Six hours later the yogurt, chilled to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to my conversation with Tu-Hien Le at June’s Food IT event in Silicon Valley, the device will be for sale initially via Kickstarter at the end of August starting at $99, which is significantly lower than $800 to $1,200 retail price range that the two founders told the Loop  (ed note: Tu-Hien Le clarified via email that the price quoted to The Loop was in Hong Kong dollars).  According to Hien Le, the company will offer a subscription for its pods for $15 a month.

Yogurt for Dessert? Meet Wim

If you fancy a froyo instead, you’re in luck. The Wim, announced this week, makes single-serve frozen yogurt in about 10 minutes.

The product is the brainchild of Google alum Bart Stein. Stein, who sold his first startup Stamped to Yahoo in 2012, came up with the idea for a frozen yogurt maker while on vacation in the Catskills in 2014.

“There was an appliance for everything from coffee, to waffles, to soda,” Stein told Bloomberg. “We realized there was no appliance for frozen dessert.”

Stein went on to secure funding, build a team and over the next two years create a system that includes the Wim appliance and yogurt bowls. The system makes frozen yogurt when the user adds milk into the Wim bowl and presses a button on the Wim appliance. The Wim appliance stirs and chills the mixture of milk and ingredients to negative 10 Celsius (about 14 degrees Fahrenheit) in about 90 seconds.

The Wim bowls, which include a powder that activates when mixed with the milk, cost about $3 a bowl in bulk. Currently, the company offers ten flavors, ranging from strawberry to ‘brownie batter’ to ‘banana bread’. The Wim appliance will set you back $299.

Unlike the Yomee, the Wim is available today.

Bloomberg’s Kate Krader tested out the Wim and liked what she tasted. “So what does it taste like? The dessert is luxuriously creamy and airy, with a tangy bite,” she wrote.

Are We Ready For Keurig For Yogurt?

Will pod-based yogurt take a bite out of store bought or the traditional home yogurt makers on the market?

Maybe. There is an obvious advantage to having long-shelf life dry yogurt pods that you can mix fresh on demand.  For those who want fresh yogurt daily, something like the Yomee may make sense, particularly if the product is in the lower end of the price range.

Of course, the Yomee will need to compete with older, less smart yogurt makers on the market. One such product is the Euro Cuisine, which costs about $30 and makes yogurt using yogurt starters.  But systems like this require more cleaning and the user to put yogurt into jars.

The Wim will face competition from both the local froyo stand and devices like the Cuisinart ICE-21, a popular home frozen yogurt maker that sells for about $50, but takes anywhere from 16 hours to 24 hours to make a batch of froyo.

For both potential users of the Yomee and Wim, the clear advantage is increased convenience and rapid-serve small portions.  If the companies can get the price right while perfecting pod systems to work well, I think will be a subset of consumers who find the convenience of Keurig-like simplicity, speed and clean up the right mix for their yogurt fix.