Royal Brothers is a one-of-a-kind bike rental service currently operational in Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana. RB was the first company with a bike rental license for Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. It’s inception took place in a college cafeteria, with it being officially founded in 2015 at India’s start-up capital, Bangalore. As engineering students in Bangalore back in 2015, Abhishek Chandrashekar and Akash S were friends who were looking for the next best start-up idea. On a trip to Pondicherry, they realized that the need for mobility was high, especially for tourists, or day-trippers in a city. That’s when they decided to start Royal Brothers, a bike rental company that would be reliable and cater to customers looking for quality mobility that is also pocket friendly.
Their core belief that one can create a shared economy with the concept of ‘why buy when you can rent’ found a chord with the investor community early on. In 2019 angel investors invested in the primary and secondary investment rounds taking the company from a bootstrapped to a funded venture. There are 3 Co-founders: Abhishek Chandrashekar – Co-founder and CEO, Akash S – Co-founder and CTO and Kuldip Purohit – Co-Founder and CBO.
We are publishing an interview with Mr. Abhishek Chandra Shekar – CEO & Co-Founder, Royal Brothers:
Q. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Please share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem.
Ans: Mobility in India is an ongoing issue. While the country is the largest buyer of two wheelers in the global market, the issue of quality mobility remains a problem.
- For those who can afford mobility, the hassle of maintenance, insurance, plus limited vehicle usage ends up being restrictive
- For those who cannot afford to own a bike, bike rentals are the best way to experiment with different models, use different bikes for commute and travel
- We are aware about the congestion in the city, with the ongoing pollution problem and shared mobility helps reduce the effect of emissions from two wheelers
- Renting is becoming a new short-term way to own a vehicle.
- Compared to public transport, bike rentals are reliable, dependable, convenient and affordable.
Q. Who are the core team members at Royal Brothers (Mention it along with their Designated Roles). How have you seen them evolving over time? What would be each of their Skill Sets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has a specific domain expertise.
Ans: Team Royal Brothers is one of the most hard-working, determined group of individuals. We got the team on-board using trust and intuition. Currently, they may not be industry experts, but that’s because the industry itself is still evolving and we’re learning as we progress. We’ve started giving our team members more exposure and opportunities for growth within the company.
Q. Tell us about the Service that you provide at RB. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the service-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Back in 2015, bike rentals were unheard of in the shared economy space. Royal Brothers was the first in the market, and we had a lot of media coverage. We started with 5 Royal Enfield Classic 350s and it seemed strange to people that a company would be renting Royal Enfield’s, as people usually just aspired to own them. But then we got our first call, and all 5 Enfield’s were rented for a group trip out of Bangalore.
Q. What is your USP?
Ans: We are the only bike rental company present in 7 Indian states and 40+ Indian cities. In fact, we were the first to gain a commercial license in three of these states. We provide customers with 20+ different scooters, motorcycles and superbikes across CCs. The customer has the option for short-term and long-term bike rentals. We believe that Royal Brothers is a supply chain – from sourcing to servicing of assets. We do everything in-house, including maintenance of vehicles and the supply-chain is under our control. With regard to the shared mobility space, we have also made use of it at some time or the other in our lives. Our idea was to create mobility and accessibility across cities. Our inventory is created differently for different cities, depending on the mobility needs of that region. Our intention is to bring comfort to people, to be pocket-friendly and a reliable and dependable service.
Q. What were your assumptions when you entered the market and what is the learning that you have today? Who are your ideal customers? Do you have at least one of them signed up or how many clienteles do you have currently?
Ans: We started Royal Brothers in 2015 with 5 Royal Enfield Classic 350s, assuming that people would lap it up. At that time, and even currently, the dream of riding an Enfield is still real. But to make business grow, we couldn’t rely on one product. We realized that people wanted to rent mopeds and scooters and that’s how business began to grow. It’s not about what you want, but what the customer is looking for. Our clientele are students, tourists and day-trippers, among others. An interesting client is a lawyer, who consistently uses our services when he meets with clients in different cities. Our overall client base consists of 3 lakh customers.
Q. What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it?
Ans: When me and our CTO Akash S were still engineering students, we had the idea of bike rentals, we initially found it tough picking the right Co-founders and the right team to work with. The idea is to have team members who share the same vision and goal and whose contributions help us gain momentum and move forward in the right direction. So, we took it as a challenge and we’re still building our team.
Q. How are you pricing your service? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc.? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Our rental rates are based on the asset value of the vehicle and the number of rental hours and kilometers ridden. We usually estimate that 3 years is the life-cycle of a vehicle and we do the math accordingly. Our ratings are beyond any of the competition and we currently have a 4.5 star rating on Google, with positive reviews by our customers.
Q. Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: We have a number of investors, including Mr. Pradip Devaiah and Mr. Amrut Prasad, as well as 4 other strategic investors.
Q. Is there any interesting success story of your startup?
Ans: We recently took up the initiative called #RBForWomen. This started as a social cause after we conducted a root-cause analysis for why there are only 5% women bike riders. And we realized that it came from the misleading stereotype that women are incapable of handling bikes. So we wanted to train women to ride motorcycles. For this, we conducted two successful events that sold out in 24 hours, where professional riders from the Indian biking community taught our women participants to ride two wheelers, starting from scooters and ending the sessions riding Royal Enfields! So, now we know that women have a genuine interest and the capability to ride like any other professional and just need that initial push, coupled with quality training to get out on the open road.
Q. Since inception, can you give a sense of the value of the business? Please explain in detail. (e.g., What is the current turnover? From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment etc.)
Ans: We have 300,000 registered users and have overall served over 2.5 lakh customers since our inception in 2015. 1.5 lakh people visit our website every month and our monthly run-rate stands at 80 lakhs.
Q. What is the big picture of your startup? Is the Product/service that you provide, leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: We are primarily a shared mobility service. Currently, we are creating and educating a market that did not exist before. Our target group is millennials, who are evolving and adapting and do not want to get into long-term commitments by owning assets. We’re a pocket-friendly, reliable service for riders to have short-term ownership of two wheelers.
Q. Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: Our toughest competition is everyone who is involved in the shared mobility space, as this industry is still in its nascent stage and everyone is striving to create a name in the industry. What makes RB stand out from the competition, over and above everything else, is that we are the only bike rental company catering to customers in 7 Indian states. And we offer the widest range of two wheelers.
Q. What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: Our next step is to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a predictive maintenance tool. RB would also like to make in-roads in 10 more Indian cities.
Q. What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: The entrepreneurial journey is fun, but challenging. You need to have courage and perseverance and just do not give up. Ultimately, you will get there.
Thanks Abhishek. All the best!