How a hunt for second-hand bikes turned Chitra Banerjee from homemaker to entrepreneur
Pedigree university degrees often make for sensational headlines but more often than not, it is irksome. This was exactly the case when Vikash Kumar Banerjee, a proud husband, wrote to us about the achievements of his wife Chitra Banerjee, is an economics honours student from North Orissa University who got married and stayed back home to take care of the family but has now started her own venture.
The story of Chitra's venture started over a cup of coffee one evening in 2013 when she was talking to her husband about how much trouble a girl can face while buying a used two wheeler. Eventually, Chitra started Bikershighway.in, a multi-brand certified used two-wheeler online showroom.
"People even buy vegetables online these days. The used two wheeler market is pretty unorganised in India and people face problems buying used ones. We thought of selling certified used two wheelers with warranty and free services at the door step," says Chitra. A lot of research went into it and now they have started operating in Pune. "We found that there is not a single player in Pune who is doing stringent quality checks and offering free warranty and services which are there in the used car segment," says Chitra. It’s not surprising then that from November 2013 to November 2014, they have sold 426 units under proprietorship.
For most people, buying a used two wheeler entails:
1) Online search on olx, quikr, bikewale.
2) Then they call the individuals or dealers for more information about the vehicle.
3) For a single vehicle they might travel a long distance.
4) Individuals or local used two wheeler dealers sell vehicles but if something goes wrong, a buyer doesn't get any warranty nor after sales service.
Providing a solution hasn't been easy for Chitra, Vikash and their 10- member team.
"We want people to feel proud about buying vehicles from Bikers Highway. Just sit back and buy stringent quality checked used two wheeler with warranty and free service,” says Chitra. We provide test ride at door step service, which means you do not need to travel far to test ride a good used two wheeler anymore.
Initially, they acted like an agent by giving warranty on somebody's vehicle. But it wasn't sustainable. Then they started buying vehicles that they would sell after refurbishment and approval from reform technicians. Outsourcing this work was too expensive and thus the duo came up with their own service center in December, 2014.
"We had savings and started of initially with our own fund. We started this concept with an investment of just Rs 3 lakhs and it was offline and went up to Rs10 lakhs and is now going up to Rs 20 lakhs," says Vikash. They have got an HNI investor who is willing to put about Rs 50 lakhs in break ups by 2015, post which the plan is to raise more funds for expansion.
The competition is very heavy ia the auto classifieds space with the likes of Zigwheels, CarDekho, Carwale, XarTrade, etc but the focus for a majority of these players is on cars. But and ofcourse there are the classified sites like olx and quikr whixh have become de facto. Chitra's passion has pulled Vikash into the business as well and the two of them steer the company along with a team of procurement agents, call center guys and technicians. Operational only in Pune as of now, the plan is to expand to Mumbai and Bangalore once they hit a sweet spot.