Three bikers from India invent the world’s fastest bike-wash machineBinjal Shah
It doesn’t exactly go with the personality of a biker - that figure that zips past you on the roads like a phantom – to take a break from burning rubber on dirtroads and wait around whistling for hours to get his or her bike serviced, ever so often. Three bikers, who have lived for dismantling and rebuilding toys and gadgets since they were little, knew there was an opportunity to revolutionise this technology. Express Bike Works (EBW), the world’s fastest bike wash ensemble was born out of that gut feeling and conviction.
Motorcyclists turn gadget-nerds
Niraj Taksande, a mechanical engineering graduate from Mumbai University and an MBA from IIM Indore, has been best buds with Bhushan Karn, who holds a B-Tech& M-Tech in electrical engineering from IIT Mumbai, since their childhood, when they shared an insatiable curiosity for mechanics and gadgets. Bhushan’s classmate at IIT, Jigar Vora,turned out to have the same itch, which is what brought them all together.
“As the three of us got together to discuss our ideas; we realised that we have the potential to create a dynamic product. Normally, when a biker goes to a local garage for washing and servicing, they would keep the bike and call for a pick up only by evening. As a group of passionate bikers ourselves, we would go on long rides for days together. Due to our adventures, our bikes would need regular washing and servicing, but the conventional bike care system failed to impress us. We used to look forward to quick washing so that we could move ahead on our journey. However, the local bike care centres in India are very laidback and take ages to wash bikes. Hence, we decided to invent a system where bikes or two-wheelers could be washed within two minutes, thus giving a world-class bike care experience to the customer. There was scope to build something that would let the bikers come and get the job done in real time,” says Niraj.
This is when the trio quit their respective jobs—Jigar left JP Morgan, Bhushan left ASUS Taiwan and Niraj, the SI Group – to dedicate complete days and nights to brainstorm and create a true-blue, completely Made in India gem. Starting in April 2013, they readied the prototype in an exceptionally short period of time of eight months, andchristened it “Express Bike Works.”It was launched in the India Bike Week in January 2014.
How they do it
The fastest bike wash machine in the world, this machine is capable of washing the dirtiest of motorcycles within in under five minutes, claims Niraj. “It is an optimum combination of water flow and pressure derived over thousands of trials. Our self-derived empirical formula resulted in a super-efficient washing system. This is topped up by a specially designed biodegradable shampoo. We also developed a way to cap the usage and wastage of water. An EBW machine only uses one fourth the water that other bike washes use for the same process,” says Niraj.
Once they had the machine ready, their initial model was to sell this technology to existing service centres. Currently, they have sold two machines worth Rs. 10 Lakh each in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
They later evolved their model to set up 360º bike service centres under the EBW banner, and started working on the franchise model, providing the machinery, training, branding, and software for running each store centrally, and also assisting their franchise partners and entrepreneurs to grow by mentoring them on how to run EBW assisted stores. They have eight stores that employ two-threestaffers each and cater to all two-wheelers that need express-care services like express-wash, express-maintenance or express diagnostic reports. The services include washing, detailing, paint protection, rust protection, express maintenance, oil change, lubrication, chain restoration, break and clutch care, electrical care, health check-up, 40-point check, and of course, their signature ‘Quick service - under five minutes on-road assistance.’ They are reaching out to petrol pumps, malls, corporate parks as potential franchise partners. So far, they have opened up eight franchises at Pune, Delhi, Nasik, Dhanbad, Hubli, and Thrissur, where they have uniform branding on collaterals, for customers to recognise their brand.
They have also sold EBW machines to authorised service stations of OEMs like Hero, Royal Enfield, and Honda who form their B2B customer base. They are solving another major painpoint with their state-of-the-art machine. “The working conditions at these wash centres are difficult leading to high attrition rates. With our machines, these service stations can wash 230-250 vehicles per day with the help of two-three employees only.”
The company set the record of washing over 230 bikes in less than 10 hours, at one of the largest motorcycle OEM service centers.
Revving for revenues
So, royalty from EBW store franchisesand machine sales to authorised motorcycle service centers form their main revenue model. Till date, they have serviced over 1.7 lakh motorcyclists at all their touch-points put together, and are growing at 200 percent QoQ.
The company started out bootstrapped, but raised an undisclosed round of funding in 2015 from pedigree investors Mark Mobius- Executive Chairman, Templeton Emerging Markets, Vaaman Sehgal- Motherson Sumi Gr., Abhimanyu Munjal-Hero FinCorp Ltd and Kunal Khattar-Carnation Auto India Pvt Ltd.
India being the sixth-largest motor vehicle and car manufacturer in the world, auto manufacturers here produced 18.5 million two-wheelers in 2014-15, according to a Know India report.Their long-term plan is to building a pan-India network of local stores to tap the service market for these two-wheelers, which is worth $2 billion. “We have plans to open up stores in Bangalore, Kochi, Coimbatore, Nagpur, Vijaywada and many other cities in 2016. Our immediate target is 50 touchpoints across India with 25 in Pune itself to begin with.We also have plans to foray into the international market soon.”