Website – Ulka Gear
Founder – Shahnawaz Karim
Considering the vast majority of people in society, motorbikes are the first love for many! They say anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing. For many, riding bikes is not just a hobby or need, it’s Passion. People dream of travelling the world with their bikes. a deep fire prevails in their bellies for riding allowing them to achieve almost all the impossible miles, paths & terrains. Bikers are known to devote a good amount of time and income on their motorcycles. Examples of a few where passion has seen to be turned into a profession are Joey Dunlop, Valentino Rossi, John McGuinness, C.S. Santosh Giacomo Agostini, Stephane Peterhansel and many other champions. Billions of people across the globe look up to them for they have created impressions of a lifetime.
A startup story we are sharing with you today would interest all the bikers.
About Ulka Gear
Ulkagear Hakkit manufactures motorcycle riding jackets that convert them into backpacks. The brainchild of Shahnawaz Karim, national champion in circuit racing and IIA certified Off-road enduro trainer with BMW Motorrad, Ulka gear Hakkit produces jackets that protect you even when you are not being protected by your helmet, gloves and goggles.
The Revolutionary Jackets
The Ulka Gear motorcycle jackets that convert into a backpack have been available in India and the global markets as well. The startup claims that the Ulka Gear jackets are the world’s first convertible jackets offering luxury and convenience at the same time to the motorcycling aficionados.
These are unisex jackets that have a zip allowing bikers to convert the jacket into a backpack. One can store riding gears like helmet, gloves and goggles. These light-weight jackets range between INR 8,000 – 11,000.
Ulka Gear has worked massively on the research and development of the product. They have designed these jackets keeping in mind the ease of mobility for every motorcycle enthusiast. Shahnawaz Karim, the founder mentions that the company has come up with the convertible jacket that has endured the test of time and has come up as an article of iconic clothing for motorcyclists. He feels excited to be rising soon as India’s most efficient rider’s apparel brand & global brand to evaluate with.
Why Ulka Gear jackets?
The Ulka Gear jackets have a stretchable waist liner and four water-resistant pockets. It comes with a waterproof rain cover. You can wear it over the main jacket for added water protection, two front mesh intake, a large back mesh outlet, anti-bacterial inner lining, and YKK waterproof zippers. You can wear the waterproof rain jacket inside as a windshield.
One can convert the jacket into a backpack easily. All you got to do is fasten the arm sleeves to the side of the jacket and close the main zipper. The jacket comes with two hooks to convert it as a backpack. The backpack in the jacket can hold 30-litre or up to 12 kg load. It is perfect to be used as a helmet backpack when not used as a jacket.
The Ulka Gear startup has come up to be an inspiration to all the budding entrepreneurs who want to be unconventional. It is an inspiration to people who are to invent something of their own that has never existed in the world.
What made you strike this business idea? What inspired you to start this company?
Shahnawaz – I was riding in Florence and I stepped down from my motorcycle to visit a gelato parlor and was struggling to carry my helmet and gloves and eventually I converted my existing riding jacket in a way that I can carry it as well as eat ice cream. That’s when the thought of developing it further came up and made it a full-fledged passion and now to a profession. All happened with the flow. One thing led to the other and then here I am running it full time.
When did you start your business?
Shahnawaz – The company was incorporated in December 2017, but the building of concept and filing of patents started a couple of years before that.
What does success mean to your company?
Shahnawaz – In current terms, success means getting more orders and improving the business that it opens new lines of business.
How are you performing currently?
Shahnawaz – As a startup, we are still cash positive which is why we are able to run evenly with the currently bootstrapped money. The objective is to have multiple models of customer connect as well as getting the brand out to the people who could really understand the utility.
What is the biggest risk to your company?
Shahnawaz – The biggest risk in the current times is the people not riding motorcycles. When people ride more. They get to go to newer places and eventually use our products more. Who wants their product hanging in customer closets.
What are your plans for the funding?
Shahnawaz – As of now, we are doing fine. Sales of a premium product during such times is difficult. Yet we are able to do it more than regular days. Which speaks a lot about the way people have loved our products across the world.
What is the biggest challenge you faced during your start-up setup?
Shahnawaz – The current market of riding gear globally has been of brands that have been working only on the same jacket structure over the span of 100 years with little innovation. The biggest challenge faced initially was finding resources (machines & master) who could put the jacket in its form what I have been able to bring together. The second challenge was to come up with the right go to market strategy. To overcome this, we are now building a good network of partners as well as selling products directly through the company website, ambassadors & Amazon.
What does growth mean to you and your business?
Shahnawaz – Growth is very broad and long term. I could break it down into a few parts and say that the current growth is with respect to our customers who love our products and then they could have their friends also wear them. Secondly, moving to numbers if we could grow a steady month on month.
How does your product stand different from others in the market?
Shahnawaz – This jacket can be converted into a backpack enabling the rider to carry his helmet, gloves, and goggles with ease when not riding. This product was designed keeping in mind the ease of mobility which is the need for every motorcycle enthusiast.
There is no other player in this market & sector. We have a range of Jackets – Hakkit Forever, Hakkit V2. The company is a pioneer in developing the first and only convertible motorcycle jacket.
Where are your start-up services spread?
Shahnawaz – Our jackets are available globally as they are on amazon’s website as well as available www.ulkagear.com.
What does it feel to be the founder of your start-up? How does it feel getting up every morning and getting on to work?
Shahnawaz – A startup is like your newborn baby, you got to give it time and energy, there would be the time that you don’t want to get up but you will get up and get things done. At the end of the day, if they are able to move things, it would not just bring a smile but also keep the momentum of the team going on.
Where do you see your business standing in the next 5 years?
Shahnawaz – 5 years is a very long duration however we would want to be having structured business in multiple countries with a nice set of product lines that caters to the evolved rider and more.
Who supports you to stand this business and how?
Shahnawaz – This has to be my partner, family, and my small group of friends who are also startup entrepreneurs who are there for each other supporting each other in times of ups and downs. You know they are not money but value and time investors in you.