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Wheels of fortune

Mumbai-based Akshai Varde’s passion for bikes made him quit his job as a flight attendant. But the 28-year-old is flying high with Vardenchi, the Rs 2-crore bike customising company.

Shruti Kohli | Print Edition: December 11, 2008

Akshai Varde

What motivated you to start Vardenchi?
In 2004, I bought a Royal Enfield and customised it. It took me 6-8 months as there were no professionals and I had to work with local mechanics and fabricators. But once the bike was ready, I knew this was what I wanted to do. So I quit my job as a flight attendant with an airline and started Vardenchi, which, in Marathi, means ‘made by Varde’.

What does your work entail?
Except for the engine and chassis, we redesign the bike completely. My team of 11 helps execute these changes.

How much does customisation cost?
I work only on Royal Enfield bikes. So, If I buy one for Rs 1 lakh, the customised version will cost Rs 3.5 lakh. Of the Rs 2.5 lakh, 35% is my profit after some deductions.

How has the response been?
Fairly good. I have handled about 50 highend models during the past three years. My turnover for this period has been Rs 1.5-2 crore. Currently, I’m customising a bike for Jackie Shroff, and the first bike I worked on was also for an actor, Ash Chandler.

How did you market the concept?
I began by exhibiting my bikes at the promotional events of other companies and brands. I have also made the display bike for the promotion of the Hollywood flick, Ghost Rider. More importantly, I was lucky to be noticed by the media.

What are your future plans?
I have tied up with an automobile company and am working towards selling my bikes outside India. We are also setting up a production facility in Gujarat.

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