Who ever thought that wanting to beat the Bangalore traffic to work on bicycles would turn into a career-altering choice? An engineer by profession (studied at RVC, Bangalore) and having spent close to 8 years in the IT sector — Infosys and Thoughtworks — Rohan Kini believes that cycling can make people fitter and happier — a goal around which he shaped his venture.
This cycling enthusiast found riding to work fun and for five years tried to spread the bug through their company, named quite literally, Bums on the Saddle. He and a friend spent time raising awareness in society and online and doing bike sales, part time. Two-and-a-half years ago, he decided to quit and take the plunge into this young industry full-time. “This industry is highly disorganised but has massive potential. It looks awesome from the outside but it works for us since it’s more about the passion than the money,” says Kini.
Initially, they were bootstrapped and then raised money from family and friends to support the venture, because revenues didn’t matter. However, they are in the process of breaking even. They’ve also had around 3,000 bikers pick up bikes since they launched in 2006 and thousands more from other locations who have purchased from them. They have worked on building a loyal customer base through word-of-mouth and events. They are also vocal about their passion in biking on the social media. “We want to see more people riding and this is immensely satisfying because when compared to an IT company, you get to witness the impact immediately of your hard work. BoTS now has two retail spaces where they represent the international bike brand Specialize. They also have an e-commerce wing where they sell biking accessories and gear.
But how much do these bikes cost? “Anywhere between `15,000 for a beginner to a whopping 3.5 lakh for the serious biker,” says Kini. There’s a lot of competition since BoTS happened, with six international brands entering the market and many cycling events being held. He says, “This is a good sign. It means awareness is building in a field where people initially gave us puzzled, ‘are you crazy’ looks?”. They conduct awareness workshops at IT companies and offices to encourage people to take up this sport.
For someone who has played basketball all his life, cycling is also close to Kini’s heart and he believes it’s a great way to meet people and inspire them to opt for a healthier lifestyle. “All they need is a push to take up this option”. He manages his team of 11 and is looking to expand in terms of manpower and retail space, which he says is more capital intensive and will require funding. His family is supportive of the venture and he’s managed to rope in his sister into the business as well. He believes in instilling good values in his team and is passionate about his venture. He loves baking, running, photography and reading and is “all about making people happy, in whatever small way possible.” For details, visit www.bumsonthesaddle.com.