We all have certain kinds of bucket list. The wishes and desires that fall into the list range from as small as eating an unimaginable stuff to going to places which are never heard of. People have various kinds of hobbies. Some are passionate bikers who ride the adventurous road to Leh Ladakh, or some are lovers of the curvaceous roads. To cater to these entire needs one must have the same connectivity as their clients.
The new generation has developed an unsurpassed zeal for bike riding. They are ready to feed this craving by taking up cool biking rides. And no doubt the peace we get while we are riding through those mushy green curvy roads is unfathomable. We get high on life.
But all good and happy things never come alone. They bring some sort of devil following them in their back. The happy rides are not possible without proper gearing. The co-founders and co-riders of BikenBiker are avid bike riders. While following their passion they came around various challenges that our Indian market faced. Poor availability of parts, lesser choices, and lack of service centers and knowledge of products left them puzzled.
They decided to bridge this gap between demand and supply by building a model to advise the customers.
Bike ‘N’ Biker (BnB) is the brain child of four passionate riders who wake up every morning with the desire to make shopping for biking needs less frustrating for their fellow riders.
BnB brings an unparalleled shopping experience and provides us with end to end solutions for riding needs. They have partnered with various motorcycle gear and accessories vendors along with capable and competent service providers in major cities of India, so that we not just purchase our motorcycle parts/accessories but also get them fitted through them.
BnB today is trusted by thousands of riders and is helping them take those important decisions on what to buy. They are currently based in Bangalore. However they wish to expand pan India through their website www.bikenbiker.com. So let us ride to their dauntless entrepreneurial road through this exclusive interview.
1.What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
The name of our venture is Bikenbiker. Bikenbiker signifies the needs of both Bikes and Bikers, that we cater to. It’s a great way to tell the customer whether it’s the needs of your bike, or yourself, we have everything. It’s a great positioning statement, and a brand!
2.Who is your target Audience/clients?
Superbikes across brands, and their owners, across India
3.Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
We are based out of Bangalore, Karnataka, India. We target entire India through our online presence www.bikenbiker.com.
4.What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
We provide Superbike accessories, parts, consumables and gear for their owners. We spend a large portion of our time and focus on providing advise and solutions to the customers for their biking needs in terms of fitment, services, fabrication and utility, with best quality and optimum prices.
5.Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come into existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
We started or got back to biking ourselves a few years ago. And we noticed four major issues in the Indian market while we tried to fulfill our own needs and for the bikes we owned:
Availability of parts, accessories, gear etc. was very poor. Stocks would be erratic at best. People had limited choices, unlike other markets
Pricing, Warranties, Services were extremely erratic, leading to a lot of issues at users end
Knowledge of products were limited and best sold as “push what you have”, leading to inefficient solutions and wastage
The service centers whether OEMs or aftermarket had poor knowledge of fitment and services in this area
Recognizing these pain points, we decided to build a model based on an ecosystem, which not only encouraged proper advise to a customer’s needs, but also proper fitment and repair services. We have been extremely successful in creating an environment wherein people reaching out to our dealers for services, buy products for their needs and vice versa. It has been a win-win partnership for both Bikenbiker and service partners to promote and create incentives for each other’s business. It’s a tried and tested model working successfully for the last two years!
6.Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
We promote some of the major brands for motorcycling, from all over the world. Most of our competition is with promoters/dealers of other large brands, all over the country.
However, in the last two years our perseverance has paid and today we are one of the largest dealers in the country for the brands we sell. We have also realized that in the ecosystem of motorcycling, collaboration is key to success. It becomes imperative to form alliances and partnerships with dealers across the country to not only promote your products but also resell their products that help you fill gaps in your offerings.
The approach is to have less competition and more collaboration.
7.How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us some thing about your co-founder/s
We met as co riders in some of the groups we belong to. And rode together for over 50,000 Kms. Over time we shared our experiences and felt the same about the way market was fragmented and struggling to cope up with ever rising demands of the consumer. We decided to get into this together and formed this company, about three years ago.
It was the bonding and trust that we formed over time as co riders and also the need to address common market issues brought us together.
8.How did you hire your first team members? What skills Do you want in your employees/team?
The team members have to bikers themselves, whatever the size and brand of a bike they ride. The passion for understanding this space comes from the fact that you are a biker first.
Learnability is another factor we look for, which is imperative to understand this rapidly growing space. Understanding and providing solutions to customers in the best way, can happen if you are willing to learn. Look at the most successful companies in the world today, they have built their basics on knowledge of the products and customer needs. Motorcycling world is no different. Sound knowledge of various motorcycles with sound technical knowledge is the power to sell. And it also needs constant update as time passes by.
The most important factor we want an employee to have is the passion to be able to give the highest level of service a customer and ensure he goes away happy. One can never ignore that they are your brand ambassadors every day and that’s how they champion your cause by asking their friends and family to give you business. You can have all intelligent qualities to be the best, but service is a matter of heart, your EQ has to be very stable there.
9.What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
In the next two years we want to achieve some major transformations:
We want to have a service center of our own at Bangalore, which would be like one stop shop for end to end customer needs
We would like to bring in some large brands and some significantly market changing products for the Indian consumer
Increase our online footprint to B2B space and marketing budgets for the same. Increase Dealers Services online and aggregate third-party products to it to harness it’s complete potential
Increase presence in manufacturing / white labeling alternative parts and accessories for vfm segment
Following years we would like to build a franchisee/self model:
Replicate our Bangalore model to other major cities in India like Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi (NCR), Cochin, Hyderabad and Chennai
Create experience center for B cities like Indore, Bhubaneshwar, Jaipur, Coimbatore, Vizag etc.
Have a well established brand of our manufacturing / white labeling products
10.Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
We would like to achieve the following in the next ten years:
Grow at geometrical rates and pursue a top line turnover of 80-100 crores. We are buoyant on the way market is growing for motorcycling and currently is 500 crore plus opportunity all over the segment and growing at 100% plus annually
We would like to see ourselves having presence in every major city, catering to local market needs
A solid, knowledge driven company that is respected for the advise and consulting provided to its customer needs, through digital presence and also through teams that interact over phone or in person
11.What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
In the next one month, we are going to add product lines to our offerings in consumables etc. providing some quality choices to customer. We have some exciting developments happening in this area. In the next six months we are also hoping to build our first franchise store in the country. Details are in advanced stages, we will announce once finalized
12.Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
At the moment we are completely self-funded. And continuing to do so. Yes we are open to funding and do have a clear plan on the same. A lot of our expansions and progress are hinged on the funding that we are seeking
13.What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
We did have some challenges earlier on, in terms of structuring our work, our strategy thoughts, and basic logistics. Over time we have been able to overcome them by assigning defined structure and responsibilities across partners. We have been able to manage things well so far, but we are cognizant of the chaos growth can bring. We are constantly working on creating processes and systems that minimizes those issues. Also, the right staffing will help, but that is another challenge of this industry; finding the right people. The Motorcycle industry is at a stage where it has started to grow and I’m quite sure its going to burst open in some unexpected way, and that is definitely a good problem to have! In the end it’s the technology, and some good people will run the show.
14.What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
We had a few challenges and we continue to face them:
People – Knowledge workers are hard to come by. I wont be surprised if motorcycling world gives birth to “skilled software engineers” kind of demands that have prevailed in the early stages of IT industry. Unfortunately, it is also a job that has to be learnt on the ground and there is no real education provide in this space formally. Looking at this factor we may be looking at forming a formal education center in this space with some of the experts of the Industry providing their learning of decades in classrooms, in times to come. It’s a sign that we are gazing at. DIY is another space that has potential to become big in India, as cost of labour and services is constantly on the rise. It has huge potential in education.
Funding – The motorcycling space is less understood by most people who are involved as Angels or VCs, or even banks. The accessory and parts industry is right now understood well at the consumer level. However, in Superbiking community people are yet to understand its potential fully. For the same reason it’s a different world to a non-biker who is looking at funding, even though the numbers suggest otherwise. This space is yet to be a buzzing sector like healthcare, AI, IOT or even e-commerce in general. However, its gaining acceptance and we do hope to join hands with some of the investors who are already in automobile/services space and have better understanding. There is also a great potential to join hands with some of the business models that are up coming, especially in home services.
Local Innovation etc. – Very few products are made locally and usually quality or design is a big issue. Most manufacturers are copying what’s already available from other parts of the world. Also manufacturing infrastructure is still unable to meet the high quality demands of these accessories/components, which have been built in other parts of the world with decades of research and development.
To top it all our duty and taxation structures also push up the prices of imports dramatically. We are stuck in a conundrum where we have a huge struggle to provide best in class products at optimum prices. Reducing duties on CBUs and CKDs imports is a good move, but we should look at reducing the duties and taxes on the products that are used by the consumer of these bikes. Till then we are looking at working on every possibility to keep the prices as close as international prices, by working on other economies like volumes.
15.Are you married, single or in a relationship?
16.What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
There are a few thing I like doing in my free time. Riding is a passion, so I get out to some place whenever I can, if possible with family. I also like working on bikes or repairing them. I like repairing anything that comes my way actually. Also photography has been a passion I need to get back to whenever I find time.
17.Whats your favorite food & holiday destination?
I just love whatever my wife cooks, not a real foodie though. I do love Chinese. Holidays, I love Goa in every sense, and that’s also because perhaps that’s one place we do get time to go for IBW. While we lived in UK, USA etc. Scotland came up as one of the places I’d love to go again and again
18.Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
Many people have influenced me over the years. I’ve always been a big fan of Nandan Nilekani, who in my opinion was one of the greatest thinkers I’ve met. He could break down most complex issues into some simple little pieces and sort it out. And a photographic memory to go with.
I also hold Anthony Bucci of Revzilla in high regard, who has created a company that did one simple thing differently, when no one thought of it. He brought in the knowledge factor to establish a thought leadership in the market. There are no other vloggers / bloggers like Revzilla folks, and that’s their strength that got them to where they are today!
19.What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
When you work for yourself, your accountability is way higher to whatever you do. Every day starts at Zero, and you need to keep working on that number. You are also happier if you are in intuitive state of mind and you will use your gut to make your company work in a way that may not have been done before. It’s risky but if you can sustain it, you go home and sleep well.
When you work for others, you may not have that freedom. At least not in the organizations that I have worked for in the last 23 years. But yes, you may be more secure in terms of sustained income and a lifestyle that usually comes with a corporate job.
20.If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently. I have enjoyed the innings I had in IT world. We were there when IT world had just kicked in with its x86 processors and floppy drives.
And now I’m here when things are just happening in the motorcycling world. Its an industry that’s bound to grow multiple times in India and it’ll provide the stage for several innovations, trading and services right here in India. We are extremely excited about it right now!
21.How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
Well it’s a 24/7 job with so many things happening everywhere. Yes it does affect our personal lives and family, but one needs to structure that with breaks. One needs to unwind and that should done at least once a year, if not twice. There are times when I have no choice but to attend something on the phone, right in the middle of a dinner with family, and that not good. But it’s a price you pay for when you are growing at some 100% annually.
However it’s definitely not a scalable model and over time responsibilities have to be delegated and spread out to have a healthy work life balance and also be more productive.
22.Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
I had read this somewhere. One of the most important factors to succeed as a startup is timing! And second was execution. You may have the best idea or product, the best people, and huge funding. If you are ahead or behind times, and you are not clear on execution, pause there. Kill it without any attachment or remorse.
23.Tell us something about your education & family background.
I hail from Patna, Bihar. Bachelor of Arts from Christ College and learnt programming and IT basics at NIIT Bangalore. Worked for 23 years in the IT industry. And it was an amazing phase of my life! Have been lucky to have worked closely with some of the biggest names in the IT Industry.
24.What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains.
Our strongest USP is knowledge
Our biggest differentiator is quality of service
To give you an example, a lot of times we have advised our customers to buy something that another vendor sells, as it suits the requirement better!
This is being honest. I may lose one sale, but that customer will stay with me for life. I just told him we will work in his best interests, not just hawk what we have!
There are also incidents where we may have lost our margin or more than that to ensure a customer’s satisfaction. And we have made ten times more because that customer sends me five more customers!
Bottom-line, stay honest and reap benefits in the long run, that’s the only way to outlast others in the game.
25. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
While the Indian Govt has taken several steps to recognize these startups with various benefits, one of the biggest challenges that I see is that most startup owners do not understand the commercial side of things. They fail as businessmen in majority of cases. One has to have a team of innovators and passionate people as core, but somewhere in the middle one has to have a very cold-hearted accountant sitting and doing the math for you. Also run your company as frugally as you can, and for that first thing you need to do is to give up your corporate baggage and practices of the past. Specially when you are funded, make sure you keep costs in tight control and have clear percentages of your income budgeted for various heads.
Your investor is not only looking at the way you will make money, but also at the way you’ll spend it. A lot of fairytales have gone sour because of the fact that those companies could not sustain both sides of the balance sheet.
26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Success is relative at each stage as you evolve as a company. We do consider ourselves successful today, because it has taken us about three years to sustain an organization which has grown from nothing to where we are today. We also faced several administrative and other expenses to establish ourselves. We have turned this company around at couple of stages. Our online business grew from 0 to nearly 40% of our business, while we also grew our dealer network. Our distributors and principles have supported us whole heartedly, for the fact that we could sell and service extremely well. Today in the motorcycling community we are one of the first names people think of. And we have to continue with same dedication and effort to grow further, and it’s going to get harder as we grow exponentially.
Like I said, each day starts with a zero. You need to believe in that!
27.Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person
Rakesh Singh – MD
A&R O2O Commerce (P) Ltd
2nd Floor, 86/47, 8th Main, 13th Cross, Wilson Garden
Bangalore – 560 027