'Exhaust'ing the 'Barrel' of Failures, to load success - Giridhar Soundarajan

For all motor bike lovers, here is someone who can get you the right accessories for your two-wheeler. It took a long way to create this innovation and implement through its products, that could increase the thrill to ride. Vroooom to know more!
IJ Kavyashree
Published on: 15th November 2015

The current generation’s craze for bikes, especially for those that create the sounds of thunders and brings everyone’s attention onto the vehicle, seems ever increasing. Understanding that the demands for the accessories for these bikes are more, than the craze for just the vehicle, Barrel Exhaust was started, along with the vision of helping the bikers get the right accessories for their vehicle.
Barrel Exhaust
Barrel Exhaust did not just click as soon as it emerged, there were more ideas that had occurred which was implemented before, that failed miserably” says Giridhar Soundarajan, co-founder of Barrel Exhaust. During his work at the corporate, Giridhar would, other than his work, always innovate out of the box ideas that he would work on and implement, like the automated wipers, bluetooth securities, health bands that would alert the parents on the increase of stress level of their kids, more such ideas continued to emerge. Although he continued to come up with such creative ideas, he could not give 100% due to the work that he had to ensure to complete at his office. Along with this, he was always inspired by his brother and mentor, Pradeep Soundarajan, who became the reason to sow the seed of entrepreneurship in him. Finally, a day came when Giridhar decided to resign and begin considering his work full-time and launched a social mobile app called ‘Reminds Me’, which failed to give successful results. Giridhar’s zeal towards creation still continued because of which he developed another application which again didn’t seem to meet expected results.

While he almost quit his passion, a call got him back to work. A call from one of the renowned MNCs having employed more than 1400 employees, which said they wanted him to work with them and that he could join without much of an interview process. “When I asked why they called for me, they said that it is because I got back every time I failed and that was when, I realized there is equal value for failure, I mean, the value for someone who is ready to face the failure. I had almost accepted the offer but for a minute, I stopped and asked myself, what if I could try once again. Anyways, I had failed twice and this would not make a large difference if I failed but, it would certainly make a huge difference if it clicked. It was hard to say ‘no’ to the company  since my situations of not earning  profit for the family for 2 years and having sold my home for investing in my ideas, I needed a job at that point of time. I still said ‘no’  and that one decision has changed my life through the creation of Barrel Exhaust” reminisces Giridhar.

The entrepreneur in him was born in his school days he feels, because of his art of convincing, that made him earn at a very early age. He ended up earning commissions for buying pets to a lot of people and hired some friends too. He also mentions, “I was always bullied in school, by my friends and teachers who would tell I am fit for nothing. So, I, somewhere had this feeling of proving them and at the same time, I was fond of pets. Born in an orthodox family, I was not allowed to have pets at home, but, I badly wanted to have one. So, I bought a fish, put it inside a bottle and kept it near the plants at home, such that no one could see. When a few of my friends came home, they happened to see the fish and they wanted one too. They asked if I could buy one for them and that was when I realized that, although they could buy fishes on their own, they still asked me because they felt I knew something more than them. I was happy about this and then, I asked them to bring the money to buy fishes. They were scared to speak to their parents and asked me to convince their parents too. I would go to their houses, share with the parents about how fishes would keep their mind positive, reduce blood pressure and ways it would help them mentally stay healthy. They would get convinced and buy the fishes, for which I would earn commission from the seller for bringing more customers. With this money, I would sometimes treat my friends with ice-creams and other things that would keep them happy, which would make them to work for me to get more fishes sold that would again help them”.

This way, hiring his own friends, without actually paying in terms of money but sharing happiness in other ways, made him understand that money is not the only thing that can make someone hold onto you, but, sharing happiness in different ways can make the person stay with you, and hence he feels, “It’s the small thing that matters”. This art off making the team happy without involvement of money and the passion of every person in the team has today, helped create the brand.
Giridhar Soundarajan
As the idea of ‘Barrel Exhaust’ got conceptualized, Giridhar happened to meet Roopak Raj, whose interest seemed to connect to him. They eventually joined hands to start ‘Barrel Exhaust’ with nothing but the passion and ideas of exhausts for the bikes. Initially, with no money in hand, there wasn’t an office. They would meet at places where they need not spend much and thus, save some amount. At such meetings, there were two more passionate youngsters, Marshal Ronad and Anantha Mohan, who joined hands to help make this venture more productive. Initial days where they had come up with about four to five products, they never sold it because they were not sure how well the product would be received by the customers. Giridhar decided to use one of them in his own bike and that gave Barrel Exhaust, its first customer. Giridhar shares how this was a breakthrough for them, “I got one of the exhaust we made, and started using it with. I remember when I was travelling, a person was following me from a very long distance and I happened to stop my bike to ask him why. He immediately came to me and said seeing the product on my bike, ‘whatever this is and how much ever it costs, I need it’. This became the validation to our product. We understood that people would love to have these attached to their bikes to add more beauty and thrill to it! It all started then and today, our customers are so happy to use our products till date”.

The customers have loved the products to an extent that they request the team to provide representations like t-shirts that they could wear and boast about. As the customers grew, they ensured that the quality is still made better and until the product is validated, they never sold it. “There hasn’t been much of marketing at all. The customers have all evolved with the word of mouth. We have ensured to replace every product that had even a minor defect. There were times when the customers themselves would share that there is no requirement of replacement for such small faults, but, we still got them replaced. Not just that, we still move a step forward and tell them what kind of product is right to use, for their vehicle model. This made our customers trust us more and today, although we are 4 of us at Barrel Exhaust, I would still say my team is officially more than 400 in number as they have all endorsed the brand” says Giridhar, on assuring quality products to customers. He has also ensured that the vendors are made to understand that it is not like the other accessories the vendors would manufacture for other clients and every product is made as beautiful, whether it is used to attach at the inner or outer part of the vehicle.

Today, the venture is expanding across the country and a lot of bikers are booking their products months before delivery of the product as the demands for them are more than the actual supply which is “a good problem to solve” he says. While the focus was on selling products for Royal Enfield so far, the team is expected to manufacture products for other vehicles like Harley Davidson in the near future, along with which Barrel Exhaust is expected to have its in-house productions soon.
If we recall where it all started, the decision to do it, in spite of facing failures earlier, became the reason today, to help a lot of bikers to get the right accessories for their bikes. One of the most important lesson in his life has been, “finding the right mentor in life”, which was his brother in his case. Along with this, Giridhar adds a message to every entrepreneur and aspiring entrepreneurs, “Validate your ideas. A lot of youngster today have ideas but fail, because of lack of validation, which I have experienced too . Also, It’s okay to fail. Fail fast and once you understand it fails, move on. Most importantly, don’t have the sense of competing with others. The idea of competition is ruining the essence of enthusiasm. Compete with yourself everyday and see how better are the results when compared to the previous day. When you compete with yourself and not others, you will find a friend in every person around you.
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