Pankaj Mangal, Art of Bicycle Trips, a cycling tourism company in India
Art of Bicycle Trips offers a simple and unique way to experience the real India. With no circumference to hinder the outlook, bicycling opens up a whole new world of adventure, freedom and mysticism on every spin.
In a conversation with YourStory.in Pankaj Mangal talks to us about the story behind Art of Bicycle Trips, his business model and expansion plans.
So Pankaj, tell us about Art of Bicycle Trips.
Art of Bicycle Trips is a cycling tourism company that offers a simple and unique way to experience the real India. We design unique bicycle safaris that help in exploring the culture, historic sites, architecture, ethnic diversity, scenic beauty, remote villages and realities of daily life in India, making the art of active travel rewarding and memorable. We follow a Triple Bottom Line concept balancing the markets and values. The triple bottom line is made up of "social, economic and environmental". We have designed our business in such a way so that we could be financially profitable, socially beneficial and ecologically sustainable.
Sounds interesting, what is the story behind the startup?
The idea was born around 10 months back during our(myself, Pradeep and Gaurav) first 100km bicycle trip from Bangalore to Bhimeshwari. After riding for around 60 KMs, we sat near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and were reflecting back on our journey and experience. We realized for some bicycle is a utility and for others, a revelation of human potential and endurance, but for us it was a new and unique experience. We thought of sharing of that experience with everyone and that's how the idea of Art of Bicycle Trips emerged.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I did my MBA in marketing from MICA and engineering in ICT from DAIICT. I worked in corporate sector for about 4 years before starting up. I have lived and traveled across India and have never stayed at a single location for more than 4 years.
What are the packages that you have as of now? Explain in detail.
Currently, we are offering an active informative city bicycle tour and three one-day bicycle safaris exploring the culture, and nature in and around Bangalore, India. The plan is to launch 2-3 days and 7 days of cycling vacation in near future.When was this started? Where are you based? Whats the size of your team? Are you looking at hiring? Hiring for which roles?
The company was started in June 2010. We are based out of Bangalore. The current team size is 5 people. We will be looking at hiring in a couple of months. Hiring is going to be mainly for Trip Leaders.
Are there any other cycle tourism companies in India?
In India, none! But, in international markets, there are numerous cycling tourism companies.
How are you different from similar players in the market?
Cycling is an active, slow and eco-friendly way of traveling. Our focus is more on a journey rather then on a destination.
What were the challenges you faced while starting up?
Educating people about the concept and getting our first few customers were obviously our biggest challenges.
What is your revenue model?
We sell cycling holiday packages to the end customers.
How do you plan to scale?
We plan to scale by introducing more number of trips and increasing their frequency. We also plan to launch in other parts of India soon.
What is the size of the market that you are trying to tap into? There are no statistics on that front from a reliable source. But, according to our calculation it is around US $ 25 million.
What kind of partnerships do you think will help you scale?
We would love to partner with inbound tourism companies in India and outbound tourism companies abroad. We are also looking at 5 star hotels and airline industry.
Anything else you want to share with our readers?
Please come forward and support our Bicycle India Movement initiative. The aim of this initiative is to inspire more people to take up bicycling and make it a lifestyle choice. We at Art of Bicycle Trips believe that the bicycling as a lifestyle choice represents a significant departure from a more established automobile centered lifestyle and therefore requires a strong emotional connect. Help us build this connect through films, music, songs, poetry, painting, photography, creative writing, books, rides and etc!
For more details, check out http://www.artofbicycletrips.com/