This Nykaa director has launched a rider-centric startup with a range of composite fibre helmets

By Rekha Balakrishnan
September 28, 2022, Updated on : Wed Sep 28 2022 04:53:27 GMT+0000
This Nykaa director has launched a rider-centric startup with a range of composite fibre helmets
Alpana Parida is on a journey to build an ecosystem around motorcycles and riders in India through her Mumbai-based startup Tiivra.
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Alpana Parida, Founder of Tiivra Ventures, a rider-centric startup has always been inspired by her IIM-A classmate Falguni Nayar, the Founder of Nykaa and India’s richest self-made woman.


“I have seen her journey closely from the time Nykaa was an idea on her iPad to now. I have been on Nykaa’s board as an independent director from the beginning, and even suggested the name,” Alpana tells HerStory.


After working in Tanishq as head of marketing and merchandising and a grocery company in the US, Alpana started a branding/design thinking company, DY Works, which is credited with the rebranding of Air India, working with BRICS Bank, Shanghai, creating Bingo and a host of big FMCG companies.


How did Alpana arrive at the idea of Tiivra?


“A number of brands were talking to young women about how they could be different from their mother’s generation…Tanishq, Nykaa, even Ariel was saying Share the Load. But the conversation with young men aged 20-35 years was largely superficial. There was no brand with a deep and meaningful connection with this new generation of men on how the old codes of toxic patriarchy could move towards defining a new kind of positive masculinity - and what better category to redefine masculinity than motorcycles,” she says.

“My ‘aha’ moment happened when a young man was telling me about being put in a situation where he was expected to fight. His choosing not to fight was not a decision lacking in courage, as this was a young man who joined a startup based on conviction alone, learnt to ride, and fell many times only to climb up again. I felt that a brand had a role to play here,” she adds.

Many of her employees at the design company were avid bike riders. Alpana recalls mentioning to a colleague more than five years ago the changes happening in the bikes space. However, helmets had seen very little innovation.


“They were not differentiated, designs were random, and very little innovation had happened. I believed it was the right time to explore in a country like India, which had the largest number of motorbikes in the world and where 150cc plus bikes were growing the fastest, where a riding culture was just taking off with multiple riding groups in small towns like Hubli, Kozhikode, Vadodara, Ranchi, etc.”

Tiivra

The entire riding continuum

Alpana says Tiivra’s starting point is the user, not the product.


“We are building a deep relationship with riders, creating a community based on content and events, and engaging with them. We are starting with helmets - but once this relationship is strong, we plan to occupy the entire riding continuum,” she says.


Tiivra offers composite fibre helmets that differ from most helmets in India, which are made of ABS or polycarbonate (read plastics).


“Plastics are good for buckets; not for protecting your head. There is a reason why all track riders wear composite fibre helmets. While plastic helmets meet standards, our helmets far exceed standards. As riders buy more powerful bikes, they would be safest with composite fibre helmets - made of glass fibre, carbon fibre or kevlar.” 


The brand is targeting the 150cc + rider and aims to cater to four out of five riders in this category.


“Our early adopters will be the passionate riders who ride for leisure and sport but we believe that they will influence the huge rider population and we should see rapid adoption over the next two to three years. We will not just be ISI-certified, we will also be ECE and DOT certified, which that allows us to sell in the EU and the US markets. We are targeting a revenue of Rs 25 crore to Rs 40 crore in the first 12 months,” Alpana says.


The helmets weigh 1,250 gm per piece, making them among the lightest in the world. They are manufactured in their facilities in Maharashtra and Rajasthan.


Alpana admits the channel costs in this category are extremely high at 25-35%. Also, online sales have not really taken off in this category due to sizing issues.


“We are using content to acquire customers and have also found a highly accurate way to determine size and ensure right fit. We will be an ecommerce business but will also sell through specific rider-owned stores. We are also looking at innovative ways to reduce channel costs,” she adds.


The helmets will be available through the company’s website and at some select rider-owned stores.


Alpana, who founded and funded the venture, found a co-founder in Jagpreet Singh Sandhu, whom she earlier worked with for 10 years in DY Works. A passionate rider, he was the "perfect co-founder". Arjun Panwar, Siddharth Shetty, and Kanan Parida are her other co-founders.


Older established players like Steelbird, Studds and Vega are the potential competition to Tiivra. But she says that many brands in India claim their helmets are made of carbon fibre, but in reality only have a carbon finish. Any imported fibre helmet costs upwards of Rs 25,000, but Tiivra aims to be available at a price point that is half.

“Apart from the required lab tests for impacts, we also have our own very tough ’sledgehammer test’. When we try to shatter helmets with a sledgehammer, all others, including leading brands, are smashed to smithereens. Our helmets stay intact even after four to five hits,” she says.

Alpana is planning to raise money from friends and family first and then go to external investors.


“I asked Falguni for advice when I started my journey, and she told me to ‘be stubborn’. Whenever an entrepreneur does something different, does not follow conventional logic, and tries to disrupt, they meet a lot of naysayers. Or well-wishers who wish to guide your success. Holding on to one’s vision is the hardest and the most rewarding thing to do,” Alpana says.


 


Edited by Teja Lele