A few years back at Taco Madness 2014, we were excited to be among the first to show you a remarkable machine called Flatev. Taking the concept of single-use espresso and applying it to a tortilla machine sounded outlandish and absurd, but we tried the tortillas and they were actually pretty good! Today the machine is finally available for pre-order on Kickstarter, so you can be among the first to place one on your counter. We spoke with entrepreneur Sandro Meyer, one of the people behind the product, about his favorite tacos, the process of creating this device, and much more...
When and where did the original idea for FlatEv arise?
Carlos, our CEO loves traveling and good food. After high school he went to Canada to learn English, backpacked through Europe to discover new cultures, and went to college in Switzerland. Throughout his travels, Carlos could not find authentic Mexican food, neither in restaurants nor in supermarkets.
Carlos started dreaming of a tortilla machine that would be just as consistent and easy to use as his single-serving coffee maker. What if this system could also make different tortillas types and flavors like blue corn and chili? After some research, Carlos realized that his vision could go beyond tortillas. A single household appliance could potentially also make other flatbreads like roti, pita, and crepes.
Carlos met Jonas Müller in the Student House that served their universities. Jonas studied engineering at ETH Zurich-the MIT of Europe. The first thing Carlos asked Jonas was, "Could you make me a tortilla-making robot?"
Jonas said, "Sure. What's a tortilla?" One Mexican dinner later featuring homemade tortillas, and Jonas was sold. They got to work on their tortilla-making machine. This was Flatbread Evolution. flatev.
What was the biggest challenge in bringing the machine to market?
Finding a strong manufacturing and production partner. It was a chicken and egg dilemma, to raise funds we needed to prove that we can deliver a machine to the market, and to deliver a machine to the market we needed funds.
Luckily at the International Housewares Show in Chicago (IHA Show) we got in contact with a Swiss OEM Manufacturers called Eugster Frismag who is also developing and producing all Nespresso and Jura machines world-wide. After almost a year-long negotiation process we entered a very fruitful strategic partnership with them. So for the past year they have been developing and now starting to industrialize the machine with all their knowledge and man-power.
How can someone get a FlatEv in their home?
The machine is ready for industrialization. We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign, to fund some parts of the final production pieces and to attract additional investors. Go to our Kickstarter page and get your own tortilla machine: http://bit.ly/flatevKS
Who are the people behind FlatEv, and how do you all know each other?
Please refer to the story above for how the original founders met. As for my participation, I joined the project 3 years ago, a few months after the incorporation of the company.
Funny story, I actually met Jonas and Carlos at a Startup Speed-Dating event where they were looking for a first employee. I remember thinking: What the hell is this? It seemed so crazy and challenging, I knew I gotta be part of this.
A few hours and a couple drinks later I was already philosophizing with Jonas and Carlos how we can make flatev a success on Kickstarter :-)
How did the design of the product come about, and what are your design influences?
I could not say it better than our brilliant designer Fred Bould (designer behind Nest and GoPro):
"We started with the visual, cultural aspects in Mexico. We looked at architecture, the pyramids, the tools they used to make food. The metate—that volcanic stone for grinding down corn—was a particular inspiration. From it,we borrowed the unconventional lava finish, the quirky, stubby feet, and the curvy frame. The result is a softer industrial design with the inherent character of a handmade tool. We wanted this to be something that had the touch of the hand to it. Usually things that are made by hand feel good in the hand."
- Fred Bould, Founder Bould Design (GoPro/Nest)
The full article with him you can find here.
What is your all-time favorite taco you've eaten?
Oh Boy, that’s a tough one! I’d probably have to say the tacos at “Tacos Salseados” in Tijuana. Our friend Javier, head of the Tijuana Culinary Art School introduced us to this hole-in-the-wall place.
Their Quesataco with Asada is out of this world, and among the best I have ever tried
One memorable taco was the “Quesataco dulce de pina”. A sweet and salty dessert taco with a raspberry sauce!
Want a Flatev? Check them out on Kickstarter.