Many a time, our mind might have craved for a bicycle when stuck in heavy traffic. If we do get one, we might have struggled to get the bicycle repaired at our convenience, or get it dismantled to transport somewhere.
Chennai-based Sricharen Sridhar too, once found it difficult to get his child’s bicycle repaired each time it needed fixing. He had to physically carry the cycle to shops only to face rejection from them, as they either took a day to repair or refuse to service it unless bought from them.
This gave Sricharen the idea of starting something of his own. Initially, he had thought of starting a service centre. But his family members gave him the idea of starting an app or a website to repair bicycles.
Sricharen did three months of the groundwork in Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, to understand the servicing of bicycles. He saw tremendous results in these areas, prompting him to start Fix My Cycle in February 2017. The startup is a digital company that allows booking an appointment for doorstep cycle services.
“All one needs to do is log on to our website and book a slot. Once they enter the details of the cycle, its features, and model number, they get services done at their doorstep,” Sricharen says.
Primarily operated through the website, the startup also offers technical assistance including dismantling and other services.
How does it operate
At present, the Chennai-based startup operates in about 20 cities in India including Tier-I and II cities.
“In all the major cities, we have a combination of in-house captive technicians and dealers that we have tied up with. We act as the dealer, as well as an aggregator. In Tier-II cities, we purely go with the dealers,” Sricharen explains.
He says that the website is very seamless. Once the city and pin codes along with the name, contact number, model, and other details are given, the technicians are sent to the location.
Currently, the startup offers a standard and premium package.
Explaining the difference, Sricharen says,
“Standard is for a regular user who rides a bicycle every day or weekly. Here, the bicycle might need aligning of the brakes, tuning of the tyres, wiping and cleaning, degreasing, and bringing it back. When it comes to the premium package, we might have to dismantle the bicycle, clean completely, assemble it, grease it, etc.”
The prices for these packages start from Rs 699 and can go up to Rs 1,299 for the doorstep servicing. Apart from this, the startup does assembling and dismantling of bicycles for customers who want to transport it, or for those who have bought the bicycles online. The service charges range from Rs 899 to Rs 999.
At present, Fix My Cycle is a team of 12 people including the six technicians at each city. The technicians carry with them a basic toolkit with items like tubes, tires, brake pads, etc. while going for services.
“Sometimes in cases where the customers have not touched the bicycle for years, it would have been completely rusted. But, the expectation of us going there and doing the job at the doorstep is not possible. So we educate the customer saying that it needs to be taken for servicing. If they say yes, then we get the bicycle. We do that at the service station, and drop it back,” Sricharen adds.
These service stations are mainly of the dealers with whom the startup has tie-ups.
Fixing the challenges
Sricharen admits that, initially, the startup had plenty of challenges. One of the main obstacles was to find technicians who would be willing to commute across the city to service cycles.
At first, he had hired a qualified technician, who took care of most of the cycle servicing for the startup. He was a certified technician through the NITI Aayog’s bicycle technician course.
“The first guy whom we hired, I was expecting the same quality from others. It didn't happen. So I thought, why don’t we send this guy and make the others like him. That's all I did. I came up with this training equation,” Sricharen says.
The technician from Chennai used to go to other cities, spent a week with the new technician, and taught him basic grooming and other technical aspects. The training happens regularly, once every quarter.
Coming from a automotive background, Sricharen says that he was not good at the technical part of the startup. He, thus, hired a third party person to get the website developed. He also learned about the different marketing strategies to reach people in some locations.
According to Research and Markets’ India Bicycle Market Outlook 2022, the Indian bicycle market is expected to register a CAGR of more than 8 percent in terms of value during the forecasted period of 2016-17 to 2021-22.
While there are startups that sell bicycles such as ChooseMyCycle, CycleWale, etc., however, Sricharen says that his startup only focusses on servicing, claiming it as its main USP.
Today, the bootstrapped startup claims to be profitable.
Further, Fix My Cycle plans to tap the top 50 cities in India, and expand its team to have its technicians in each city.
(Edited by Suman Singh)