WATCH: From Rs 5 lakh to Rs 45 lakh: this bootstrapped custom bike designer became profitable in less than 2 years
Around 17.7 million two-wheelers were sold in India in 2017-18, of which 12.61 million were motorcycles, according to market research conducted by Arbaaz Sha Muzawer and Wasim Shaikh of Custom Elements. Their findings further reveal that of these, around 1.1 million were premium bikes.
Encouraged by these statistics in the motorcycle industry in India, friends-turned-co-founders Arbaaz Sha Muzawer and Wasim Shaikh decided that 'motorcycling and motorcyclists is the business for us'.
While Arbaaz was an SAP consultant in Bengaluru, Wasim was working with ACT Fibernet in Nellore. The self-confessed non-biker duo was enthusiastic about the idea of starting up. But their idea actually took shape when Arbaaz decided to quit his corporate job and take the plunge.
He was soon joined by Wasim, and in February 2017, the two launched Custom Elements. The Bengaluru-based startup designs custom bikes and helmets, and retails a wide range of riding gear and accessories for biking enthusiasts.
“It’s a completely passion-driven market where money is secondary. The kind of passion these people have - they discuss bikes day and night, and even their friends are all bikers...,” says Wasim.
Motorcycling market – not so niche after all
For Wasim and Arbaaz, Custom Elements might have started out as a passion but it didn’t take them long to understand the vast opportunities this luxury-driven market holds. “When we started looking at it, we realised that this niche market is not that small anymore and that you should look at it as a big opportunity,” adds Wasim.
Wasim Shaikh and Arbaaz Sha Muzawer, co-founders, Custom Elements
The duo bootstrapped the startup with Rs 5 lakh, and in less than two years, they claim Custom Elements is already profitable, and have made a revenue of Rs 45 lakh. They also have a new ecommerce retail platform, which is seeing 40 percent month-on-month growth, the founders claim.
“Motorcycling is not only about the bike, the helmet, and the gear, but also the lifestyle associated with it.”
The price of passion
The founders explain bikers spend anywhere between Rs 20,000 to a couple of lakhs to customise a bike. They spend on riding gear, riding boots, bags, helmets, gloves, and even accessories like keychains and small miniature helmets, which would find a place on display shelves.
The cost of designing a helmet can start from Rs 25,000, and can go up to Rs 75,000, the founders say, and there are several takers. For bikes, tank designing could start from Rs 40,000 and customising the whole bike could go on to Rs 2-3 lakh.
A custom-designed bike by Custom Elements
With diverse offerings come diverse demands, some even a bit outlandish. Arbaaz and Wasim explain they have come across all kinds of customers – in fact, one wanted his memories from a trip to the Himalayas to be encapsulated through art on a bespoke helmet.
“One of the most bizarre ideas was… this guy who came and said, ‘I wear a helmet but I feel very hot inside, can you think of something like putting more holes on the helmet'," quips Arbaaz, “I was like, if you put holes in a helmet, it beats the purpose.”
Custom Elements, however, is not into bike modification. As the two explain, “we are into custom airbrushing.”
The founders add, “We take care of the painting, designing, the aesthetics part of it that deals with only the upper skin, whether it is with the motorcycle or the helmet.”