“Four wheels move the body; Two wheels move the soul”
Have you ever felt that rush of blood mixed with dopamine and excitement when you see a reviving engine pass by. The sleekest of edges, smoothened lines and your gaze just sliding along the contours.
This Sunday we bring you the man who is behind the design and power of one such bike. The man who gives life to the machines, one who makes the heads turn and one who tunes performance to another level. Here is our exclusive interview of a bike enthusiast Nitin Sharma (Co-founder, TNT Motorcycles) about his journey from being an MNC employee to a Motorcycle builder.
E-Cell: How does one end up on the other side? Isn’t this the age where we buy one for ourselves?
Giggles…believe me I was getting one for myself. I am a mechanical engineer, I love machines and call it a professional hazard I know them too well to get stuck with what they offer. Thus, I started modifying one to my requirements. My experience with iCAT and JCB over the years after graduation came handy.
E-Cell: Modifying one sounds reasonable but making it a business model? How did that happen?
Though I and Naveen (the partner in TNT) had small talks about design, name or a brand name, there wasn’t anything concrete. We started building our first bike along with a full-time job over weekends, offs and holidays. We completed making the bike in about 9 months and called it “SHUNYA”(probably world’s lowest bobber using a Royal Enfield Electra 350 cc).
We exhibited SHUNYA in INDIA BIKE WEEK-GOA in 2014 and got an immense response from the audience. Though that one response from a young kid “AWW, look at THAT…What is THIS!!” gave us the nudge to plunge in our passion, quit our jobs and start-up!!
E-Cell: How do you manage destructing something already elegant to make it look even better?
Haha (laughs..) That sounds so evil of us. Though I accept that’s part of our job. One such instance (musing…3rd assignment) we got a Harley. I didn’t dismantle it for 7 straight days gazing at it imagining what could we do to match it let alone improve on elegance.
On the 8th day, I mustered the courage and proceeded but the glory was short spanned. The tools let me down as it was the US build and I had to wait few more days to let the ordered tool get here. It took us 1.5 months to complete the work. The Bike was named RAASTA. I just love my decision to take up that assignment.
E-Cell: To be frank, customization and fabrication is no more an uncharted territory. What is so unique about TNT bikes or that perfection we see that make it stand out from the rest?
I’m reminded of my favorite quote – “God is in the details”,
We take time to build our bikes, we concentrate on one thing at a time, work on detailing of each part e.g. on a rear wheel fitting we concentrate fully on that part and make sure that every bit and piece of it should be precise and accurate. We design the whole structure on AutoCAD first and then model it on Solid works removing any chance of mismatch or error. One of our USP is most of our parts are hand-made. And what u see in the form of perfection is just the outcome of above mentioned.
E-Cell: Any instances of hardships that the company went through in the past 3 years. How did you overcome those?
We had a very difficult time six months ago and we were about to shut down our operations because of financial constraints.
Initially, we were working only on the orders that were coming from the market, so we increased our product portfolio- we started working on parts, started working on productions as well. So in a way, we started building our own market and increased our product portfolio. We now make customized Parts, Seats, Tanks, Chassis, Kits etc. apart from our main product. So in a way, we had to change the whole model of our business and it helped us move forward.
E-Cell: Do you have any plans of launching a TNT brand bike in the market?
Yes, we have plans for that but it would require time and a great deal of financial support. We have some designs in mind and are looking for an investor who would be interested in such a concept. Right now we are already having TNT manufactured components in the market and maybe 5 years down the line u can be on the lookout and you might see a fully designed and manufactured TNT motorcycle on the road.
E-Cell: For a student who is passionate about entrepreneurship, when according to you is the right time to start?
For a student with viable idea and expertise, he/she can start anytime they decide to make the plunge.
According to me, it is not only about the product but also about the business around it. For a student who is interested in bikes, automotive, or any machinery for that matter, my recommendation would be to first complete his/her studies, have industry experience of say 2-3 years, maybe work on his product side by side. Once he/she has acquired some learning and has gained appropriate knowledge about the financial implications of the decision, he/she must start-up.