Case Studies - Product Design

Daily Dump’s Battle to Turn Trash to Treasure

The company’s two-decade journey to bring composting to individual homes, cannot be measured through traditional growth metrics

Daily Dump's Terrabite composter on a balcony with potted plants

“The process of composting allows you to participate in a microcosm of Nature’s bigger cycle. Converting food waste to rich, dark soil that will nurture life again, is a simple yet profound act that emphasises the importance of each individual’s role in ecological stewardship. In our hyper-urbanised lives, this has become even more important.”

This was the answer Poonam Bir Kasturi, founder of Daily Dump, gave us when we asked why she had chosen the hard battle of convincing individual homes to adopt composting.

A typical THC case study focuses on growth, on turnover and innovative marketing. Daily Dump’s story may be a departure from conventional metrics – but it is a story worth celebrating. 

From the Khamba to the Terrabite

Daily Dump was born in 2006, as an experiment in Kasturi’s garage, where the NID alumnus  designed and developed what was probably India’s first home composter – the Khamba (pillar in Hindi).

Made of terracotta, the Khamba consists of three stacked containers. Food waste is packed into the top container and then sprinkled with Daily Dump’s remix powder that speeds up the decomposition process. Thirty days later, customers can harvest rich, fertile compost from the bottom container. An urban Indian family of four creates an average of 1-2 kg of waste per day, which can be turned into about 7-10 kg of compost.

Kasturi explains the reasoning behind the name, design and choice of material: “Our initial target audience was people who were already interested in sustainability – they were the low-hanging fruit and the Khamba was designed to be something they would proudly add to their homes.”

Terracotta composter outide a door next to green plants
The terracotta Khamba was designed to be an accessory that early adopters would proudly add to their homes

Since then, Daily Dump’s product portfolio has grown to include both community composters for apartment complexes and home composters for individual homes. 

In response to customer demand for lighter, unbreakable devices, there is also a line called Gobble, made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). Daily Dump has recently introduced a model called the Terrabite in the same material. 

stacks of ldpe brown composters on a terrace with a young girl standing drinking from a red mug
In response to customer demand, Daily Dump also produces unbreakable composters made of LDPE

Priced at Rs. 20,000, versus Rs. 3500 for the Khamba, the Terrabite is a smart-looking composter that is a result of Kasturi wanting to create “something aesthetically pleasing to fit an apartment balcony.” The design of the Terrabite also makes the composting process easier. The biggest obstacles in a user’s mind are the fear of keeping waste inside the home, resulting in smell and bugs. The Terrabite solves for this through a dual walled-structure that prevents odour. It has a tap that allows for easy leachate removal, and the door allows for quick harvesting. Unlike the Khamba and Gobble, there is no need to lift and shift units.

Woman wearing blue gloves harvesting compost from a Terrabite composter on a balcony
The Terrabite is an aesthetically pleasing, easy-to-use composter that solves for odour and bugs

For the first time in the company’s history, Kasturi has applied for a patent for the Terrabite.

The Fight for Community Composting

Of Daily Dump’s annual revenue of Rs. 3.75 crores  in FY 21-22, only 60% came from community composter sales.  

It seems counterintuitive that complexes would not adopt composting, we ask.

Kasturi says this has been an uphill battle, despite hundreds of presentations to builders and Resident Welfare Associations (RWA). “Even if the builder allocates space for the composter in the common areas, the RWA will axe the proposal saying it is too expensive and not essential,” she says. “And they continue to send waste to landfills. Given that food waste is 70% water, this is a terrible waste of the state’s resources.”

Girl wearing yellow apron pouring waste into a community composter with a yellow lid and dark green body
Getting apartments to adopt composting has been an uphill task for Daily Dump

Educating Consumers

As a pioneer in the space, Daily Dump has carried out a significant education effort over the years. They have produced films and books – many of which are simple illustrated guides for children. Right from its name, the brand’s tone of voice and communication style has always been friendly, approachable, even irreverent, mirroring the founder’s larger-than-life personality.

3 childrens books called Ouch & Moo
Daily Dump has carried out an extensive education effort, including these illustrated children;s books

The company’s highly responsive customer service team answers queries over Whatsapp and calls because as Kasturi says, “If a customer fails at composting on their first try, we have lost them forever.”

Distributing the Dump

Currently Daily Dump sells through its own website as well as horizontal marketplaces like Amazon. A significant portion of its sales also come from a network of part-time sales people spread across the country.  “This isn’t like a typical sales team, says Kasturi, “these folk are in it because they are passionate about the cause.”

The Shark Tank Experience

Kasturi went on Shark Tank recently. While the panel lauded her mission and her spirit, she only received a funding offer from Namrata Thapar, which valued Daily Dump at Rs. 7.5 crore. The reasons for not participating in the funding focused mainly on low growth prospects, the lack of a moat and the absence of a strong team. (Interestingly, Lenskart founder Peyush Bansal’s advice was to make an affordable composter and increase the price of the frequently used remix powder.)

While Kasturi’s spirit and mission was lauded, the funding offers were slow to come. Everyone did agree, however, that her feisty answers took the “sharks ki class”

Kasturi is the first to admit that she wishes she had spent more time thinking about money or inducted a co-founder who could have scaled the company. “All my energy,” she says ruefully, “has gone into making the products and evangelising the cause.”

Kasturi’s dream was that a composter should be part of every household, much as a fridge or washing machine is. Terrabite has sold more than 500 units since its launch, but regardless of the numbers that the company achieves, Daily Dump should be viewed — and remembered — as a pioneer who made composting mainstream in an effort to create a more sustainable and conscious way of living.

3 Comments

  1. I have been using kambha method of composting since lockdown. It has been such a pleasure every time I get the nutrition rich compost for my garden. I urge all to implement this and reduce your dependency on BBMP for wet waste and on fertilizers for your gardening needs.

  2. My first composter came from Daily Dump. back in 2012. I wasn’t disciplined about the process and gave up on composting within a year. Nearly a decade later, I bought myself Daily Dump’s Gobble set of 3 as an anniversary gift. Daily Dump’s website has great information for new composters and I scoured it, determined to do it properly this time. Their illustrated guide to compost troubleshooting is stuck on my fridge. I’ve been composting for 3 years now and it’s all thanks to Daily Dump. There’s no smell or anything icky; in fact, I love how veggie peel and eggshells almost miraculously turn into black soil every 60 days. Love that you’ve featured them!

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