Giridhar Soundararajan, a 34 year old boy whose dream was to become a fighter pilot but ended up being the creator of barrels that fires many guns. Despite failing twice with his ideas initially he found that the best is yet to come and he started following his heart over mind.
TSJ’s guest Editor Siddhartha spoke with Giridhar about his journey & future plans for Barrel Exhaust.
What inspired you to launch Barrel Exhaust?
It didn’t happened easy at all. After failing to secure success on the two mobile app start-ups, I lost all my savings and went bankrupt. Even I had to sell my house since I couldn’t pay my monthly instalments.
Although nothing more to lose, I was inspired by Steve Jobs and followed my heart. Being a passionate biker, I always fancied the automobile sector from childhood. That’s how “Barrel Exhaust” was born.
How has the journey of Barrel Exhaust been till date?
Life at Barrel Exhaust has been wonderful and exciting. Start-up life is like research & development, the more you do you become excellent. When I founded Barrel Exhaust, I neither had money as savings nor customers to sell, all I had was a mind blowing product and a fearless heart against failure.
In the early days, we couldn’t afford an office space since we had less customers. Over the time the sales has improved & we’re a 10- member team at present including customers from more than 6 countries.
After starting your career in a different sector, did you faced any challenges while launching Barrel Exhaust?
Since I was following what my heart desired, I never felt any challenges that I could not solve. Every challenges faced by me was treated as an opportunity to learn and excel, it motivated me and made me stronger.
Where’s your factory/warehouse located & how ‘Make in India’ initiative has helped your brand?
My latest manufacturing facility is located in Kanakapura Road, the southern part of Bengaluru, Karnataka. I saw ‘MAKE IN INDIA’ initiative as an inspiration to make our country proud by building products and brand that the entire world love. All exports we do are tax free and that is a very motivating for us to reach out to the world. We are already having bikers from USA / UK / SPAIN / KUWAIT / NEPAL / BHUTAN / INDONESIA / AUSTRALIA who love our products very much.
What are your products that has been launched till date, tell us about them in brief? Are they certified with the Automotive Standards in India?
The first product that we launched was a high performance exhaust system for the Royal Enfield bike and we named it Canon Carbon and Canon Chrome. Canon is our patented design that takes inspiration of the Army Tank Guns and is aesthetic and acoustic luxury for the bikers. The unique design stands out from the crowd and gives the customers exactly what he/she needs.
We then went ahead and launched a racing exhaust called “GHOST”and it sent waves across all corners of the nation for its Sten Machine Gun looks and high performance delivery. We went ahead and also launched Flagpole with LED and for the very first time launched a product called “TBONE”. This product has never ever been made for the Royal Enfield bikes till date and bikers have fallen in love with the creativity.
Is your firm bootstrapped and in the coming months or years are you planning for VC funding?
It started as a bootstrapped firm & I’ll prefer to continue like this. Our main focus & vision is to “CREATE HAPPY BIKERS”. I’ve been approached by many investors and but I politely denied them and thanked all of them for their interest and trust in Barrel Exhaust.
Do you cater to B2B & B2C markets both? Could you give us an approx. or estimated figure about your market proposition till now?
We were serving B2C markets after the launch. Once the demand rose higher than we could handle, we had to move more towards B2B and appoint channel sales and dealer network. We however continue to maintain both B2C and B2B as it is very important for us to keep a very close connection with our customers. We choose dealers very carefully after a lot of introspection to ensure that they abide by our service policies.
We are in a market that has a very good growth rate worldwide and we are biting as much as we can chew and fill ourselves.
At present you’re shipping the items from Bangalore itself, do you plan to open some stores or PICK-UP points in other cities of India?
We are currently operating only out of Bengaluru, however we have been on a spree opening authorized dealerships across the country. In the last three months, we’ve opened 3- dealerships in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Raipur, Kolhapur, Salem, Aizwal, Tinsukia, Goa & Kumbam. We are in discussion with some international locations where our products have already reached and hopefully our products will be available over there by the end of 4th quarter of 2016-17.
What is your refund/exchange policy if in case a product appears faulty & the buyer is residing outside Bangalore?
We build our products with great care and quality, however there is always a possibility that one out of many that reaches the customer may be faulty mainly due to logistics mishandling (every product undergoes three levels of QA before packing). In the event of any damage before the product is reaching a customer or any manufacturing defects, we extend a replacement warranty within 6 months from the date of purchase of our product. The best part of this warranty is that we honour our promise to every customer who qualifies for the warranty. The customer is requested to return the damaged product and we ship them a brand new one. We do not refurbish or repair faulty pieces.
Is there any in-transit warranty while shipping or manufacturer warranty afterwards?
Yes, until the customer has not received the package from us, we take complete responsibility of the product. Our customer is more important to us than a loss due to replacement.
Has Demonetisation affected your business in any manner or do you provide an e-payment option for your customers?
Right from the launch, we’re having online payment options for our customers and we also have our online store at Shop@BarrelExhaust so #Demonetisation didn’t had any negative effects on our business.
What is your word of advice for the young generation who wants to become entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship is not a designation, it’s a way of life. It’s an undertaking to oneself that he/she is ready to face failures and learn in the process of following a dream. Success is directly proportional to execution of a fantastic idea that you believe in even if the entire world does not.
Be ready to fail and don’t fear it. Failure is the best teacher you would ever get to learn from. Life of an entrepreneur is full of choices and decisions to make. What choice you make and what decision you take determines whether you are going to be successful or not.