We talked to Abhishek Chandrashekar on how Royal Brothers rents motorbikes, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Abhishek Chandrashekar: Thanks for asking. We have been fortunate to survive the pandemic without any significant hiccups. Most of the year was spent indoors and working from home, waiting for the good old days to come back.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Royal Brothers?
Abhishek Chandrashekar: I’m a mechanical engineering graduate and founded RoyalBrothers right out of college out of a passion for Automobiles. And was part of FSAE in building formula student race cars. I founded RB out of an awful experience while renting a motorcycle on one of my vacations.
How does Royal Brothers innovate?
Abhishek Chandrashekar: We have always believed in listening. We listen most to our customers for their insights. Customers provide the best feedback as they are the ones who use the products at the end. The team focuses on gathering insights from all the feedback and continuously innovating all products for end-users.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Abhishek Chandrashekar: Covid19 has affected the entire world, but it had a more profound impact on the travel and tourism industry. Our significant chunk of business is from the same segment; however, we reacted quickly and made a few business models sustain. We shifted the vehicles from the tourist locations to the major cities and urban areas for better occupancy. We also ventured into a new category of long term subscription. The subscription model helped us increase the occupancy via a long term subscription of 1 – 9 months for each vehicle. The consumers got the option to choose from a wide variety at the most optimum prices.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Abhishek Chandrashekar: We had to make many difficult choices; however, the toughest among them was to let go of the team members. For five years, we had built up a team of high-performing individuals who gave their 100% to the company and its growth; however, due to the pandemic, we had to close stores at a few locations resulting in job losses. Lessons learned have been plenty – We learned to make quicker decisions as the pandemic hit us like lightning jolting the entire space. We learned to manage our resources better. We learned to squeeze profits and margins and figure out the company’s loss-making divisions, which were neglected previously.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Abhishek Chandrashekar: I stayed at home most of the time and luckily had the company of a toddler (my niece) to keep me occupied. Apart from work, my niece, family, and the short treks in the neighborhood kept me occupied, fit, healthy, and happy. Usually, I stick to a routine that divides my day into various parts and focuses on various aspects of life. If time can be managed effectively combined with a daily dose of workout, anxiety, and stress can be kept at bay.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Abhishek Chandrashekar: Most of our competitors had to sell off their inventory to survive the pandemic, whereas, for us, those numbers were deficient. Most of the competitors have a lot of thinking to do before they can catch up. We feel that the pandemic has taught us to utilize our resources more optimally; hence as soon as the lockdowns were lifted, we started investing in the new models. We are trying to bring back our old team members and focus on a niche category of motorcycles and motorcycle tours. We are also looking at ways and options to fill up the void left by our competitors and hoping to lead the race in capturing all segments with our best efforts.
Your final thoughts?
Abhishek Chandrashekar: The pandemic has shaken us all, but the spirit of not giving up has helped us fight through it. This has made us even more robust. And the hustle continues.