How two avowed non-bikers built a growing e-commerce platform for motorcycle accessories and gears
While working as a SAP consultant in Bengaluru, Arbaaz Sha Muzawer was surprised to see his colleague buy a high-end motorcycle worth a few lakhs. âSeeing someone from a middle-class family spending their income on motorcycles and accessories intrigued me,â he says. Accompanying his friend for a bike ride in Kolar, Arbaaz was able to meet and discuss with motorcycle enthusiasts. It was then that I realized that the community of motorcycle enthusiasts was driven by passion and went to great lengths to pursue this dream, âhe says. Realizing that there was a market for custom motorcycles, designs and accessories, Arbaaz with his friend and now partner Wasim Shaikh decided to start Custom items in 2017 as a custom bike and helmet design startup. Wasim Shaikh was then working with ACT Fibernet in Nellore.
Rotate to build the ladder
Within two years, Custom Elements became profitable. But, the co-founders realized that while the business was doing well, they needed to establish a stronger business model. âWe had to explore a source of income that could evolve,â says Arbaaz. Running the company for two years, Arbaaz and Wasim got to know their customers better and saw that venturing into motorcycle accessories was a viable option. In 2019, Custom Elements started its e-commerce business. The coming months saw e-commerce activity strengthen. During the 2019-2020 financial year, the startup recorded a turnover of Rs 87 lakh. The traction saw the startup completely pivot into an e-commerce model. A year later, the startup’s revenue reached 2.72 crore rupees in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Today, Custom Elements markets itself as an e-commerce platform for motorcycle accessories and gears with a loyal customer base spread across the country. Interestingly, growth is driven by demand from Tier II and III cities across the country, Arbaaz points out. âMotorcycle accessories and gears are often expensive. In the subways, people prefer to go to a physical store, take a look at the accessories and then buy them. But, since most Tier II and III cities don’t have such showrooms, Custom Elements is considered the go-to option, âhe says. He adds that while they see people across the country buying on the platform, West Bengal and the northeastern states are taking the largest share of the market.
Establish a strong brand link
There are many reasons why Custom Elements has been able to establish itself in the market in such a short time. âOne of the main reasons is our service,â explains the co-founder. He explains that while motorcycle enthusiasts who are just starting out share the passion, they don’t always understand space. âThey have questions about the size of helmets they should buy, why helmets fit well or even what motorcycle accessories they should invest in to climb on Indian roads. And we respond to all customer queries and guide them. And, this focus on the customer experience has helped to establish a strong connection with our target audience and thus to grow, âhe shares.
The other reason was to strengthen its presence on the .in domain. Arbaaz says: âWe initially chose the .in domain because we had already chosen the brand name – Custom Elements. The other reason was the price factor. As a start-up business, it was important to create an online presence while keeping the cost factor in mind. And, the .in domain extension has ticked all the boxes. Today, with the backbone in an e-commerce platform, the .in domain extension has helped build confidence in the local market. âWhen we started the business in 2017, the website was about establishing an online presence and establishing the brand. Today, as an e-commerce platform, the website is at the heart of our business, âhe adds.
Vrooming towards new growth paths
After making early inroads as an e-commerce business in a niche market, Custom Elements is now gearing up for another big gamble. âWe want to launch our own private labels,â says Arbaaz. âThis will allow us to further penetrate the market and also reduce dependence on imports in the long run. Due to the disruption of the supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resellers have exerted increasing pressure to source products. It is not only expensive, but also poses a huge risk. A private label at the height of quality can meet this challenge, âhe adds. The startup has already started the basics of private label.
Custom Elements was started by two avowed non-bikers. But, working in the industry, the co-founders realized the need to nurture a community to keep the business connected and relevant. This is why the startup is working on community development initiatives. âWe put our blogs and videos on topics of interest to the community. We want to be more than just an e-commerce platform for motorcycle enthusiasts, âsays Arbaaz.
The series âShaping India Inc’s Online Growthâ chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how the creation of an online presence in the .in or .Bharat domain has fueled their successes.