Airbags for bikes? Bike enthusiast designs safety accessories for two-wheelers with Grandpitstop
Airbags for cars have been around for a long time, but Delhi-based Grandpitstop has designed airbags for bikes, and also a range of unique, easy-to-use accessories.
When Arjun drove his KTM 390 Duke motorcycle from Delhi to Ladakh this summer, little did he know that his bike would skid in the middle of nowhere and he would wake up with a dislocated elbow, a broken leg, and bruises.
There are many riding enthusiasts like Arjun who face challenges on long rides as two-wheelers do not have safety features like four-wheelers do.
British road-safety organisation RoSPA, as part of a research, reveals that the chances of two-wheeler accidents are 38 times higher than four-wheeler accidents.
With safety for two-wheelers as its focus, Delhi-based Grandpitstop has found its business path. The auto tech startup is building its own motorcycle accessories brand to make riding safer and comfortable.
Founded by IIT-Delhi graduate Nitin GR in September 2016, Grandpitstop has seven patents registered in the US for its easy-to-use motorcycle accessories.
The award of a patent early this year for airbags has generated excitement among the team. The founder says it is a utility patent, and any company installing airbags in motorcycles will have to take a licence from the company, which will also be a major revenue stream for the startup.
Is this the first ever for bikes? Automobile giant Honda had launched an airbag-mounted bike in foreign markets like the US, Canada, Australia, but recalled the product in 2016 due to potential dangers.
“It was mounted on just one side. The Grandpitstop’s airbag is mounted in four sides and inflates from wherever the bike gets the hit,” says Nitin, CEO and founder of Grandpitstop. “When a bike skids, it can be on any side,” he added.
These airbags can be installed on any bike. However, the product will take a year or so before it hits the market.
From a bike lover to another
Nitin is an avid motorcyclist and owns a Harley-Davidson Sportster. He once traversed a long 800 km stretch on a motorcycle from Hampi to Mumbai in a single day. He started riding during his various travels while working with oilfield services company Schlumberger after completing his Mechanical Engineering from IIT Delhi in 2007.
“I understood there are a lot of challenges in the riding ecosystem, like lack of full-scale garages, extreme weather conditions, poor roads, maintenance accessories, lack of do-it-yourself (DIY) culture, among other challenges,” says Nitin.
“These pain points triggered the engineer in me to come up with solutions. I started building prototypes, which were appreciated by fellow riders, and gave me the motivation to look into more pain points,” he adds.
Nitin designed and developed products like DIY puncture kits, a portable paddock stand, which allow bikes to do away with bulky paddock stands and get a compact stand which is the size of a palm. These ideas translated into a full-time startup in 2016 - Grandpitstop.
The other products offered by the startup include protective gear, comfort goods, apparels, bike customisation, DIY kits, maintenance tools, tools like motorcycle dolly for heavy-weight bikes, which helps motorcyclists to park in a small garage or tight parking spots. It makes manoeuvring a motorcycle an easy job, which usually is not the case with heavy-weight bikes.
About competition in the India market, Nitin points out that the after sales-accessory market in India is unorganised and fragmented. “There are very few players catering to online demands with new-age products.”
“We do have competition in the international market, but we try to stand out with the latest technology, and better designs. We protect our intellectual property internationally by patenting them across different geographies, so we expect to capture a considerable amount of pie internationally,” he adds.
Business model and market opportunity
Biking in India is changing from a means of commute to a social status symbol. “Our customers are educated, tech-savvy with a decent spend, and buy products online. We focus on selling online through Amazon and other channels,” Nitin says.
Nitin adds that India has seen a new segment of mid to premium bikes with an impressive growth rate of more than 20 percent. These are two-wheeler riders that own bikes above Rs 1 lakh like RE, Bajaj - KTM, Dominar, Harley Davidson, etc.
“Currently, there are 1.4 crore such bikes on road and will rapidly grow at more than 20 percent per year to 3.8 crore by 2022,” he adds. The motorcycle manufacturers, too are bringing more bikes in the premium category to India.
Growth and funding
The startup began exporting products to the US this year and plans to enter other international markets. Grandpitstop sells about 3,000 products in a month, which is 10 times higher than that its sales for a month, a year ago.
In two years, it has achieved break-even and is registering steep growth in revenues from Rs 16 lakh last year to Rs 81 lakh this year.
“We are doing a Rs 3.25 crore Annual Run Rate in India as on Q3 of CY2018, as compared to Rs 0.24 crore as on Q2 of CY 2017. This represents a growth of about 400 percent in a year. In the next financial year, we are looking to close at Rs 20 crore with a presence in the US, the UK, Germany and Italy,” he adds.
The startup is in the final stages of raising angel funding of Rs 6 crore from a clutch of angel investors including James Abraham, who is also a mentor for the company, Shobit Tiwary, and a few more VCs. “We are expecting to close the round in two months,” told Nitin.
Grandpitstop will use the fresh capital for growth and expansion in other countries.