The design and branding expert speaks about funneling experiences from her previous stints into her newbie startup.
Alpana Parida, former head of design agency DY Works, is busy digging into the minds of young Indian men and the world of motorcycling.
The thoughts and experiences gathered over decades spent as a marketer are being channeled towards building Tiivra, Parida’s startup. Tiivra translates to ‘intense’ in Hindi, and aims to build an ecosystem around bikes and riders in India.
The initial launches from the brand include helmets and other riding accessories. Parida says that the plan is to create experiences for everything around motorcycling, from insurance services to content.
Now, the promise of a business built around biking in India is huge. The country happens to be the largest two-wheeler market globally. Over that, around 35 million helmets are sold here every year.
While there are several brands that cater to this need, they rarely come out in the open and communicate with the consumers. Even the key two-wheeler brands (barring a few like KTM and Royal Enfield) haven’t done much to cater to the riding community, apart from marketing new products.
Tiivra was launched around April last year (2020). Since then, it has spent its time on research, pooling talent, designing products from scratch, and getting them ready for the market.
But that doesn’t explain Parida’s decision to invest in and build a riding-oriented brand – particularly because she isn’t a rider, or motorcycling enthusiast herself.
Parida says that the need has always been there, but little has been done to address it. Without much brand-led activity, the current ecosystem and experiences are mostly consumer-led.
“In my last stint, I realised that most clients are really timid. Instead of pursuing a bold thought like a leader, they tend to follow a beacon. So rather than advise people, I decided to do this myself.”
One thing that really stood out from her experience of working with businesses is that there aren’t many brands connecting with the young Indian males.
“A lot of brands talk to the young women about how they can be a different generation but few talk to the young men. They don’t want to be like their previous generations. Instead of the previous masculine code of being the provider and protector, they want to be the companion and the collaborator.”
While Parida hasn’t ever ridden a motorcycle herself, motorcycling emerged as a focus area when she was looking for a way to cater to the young Indian men. The category, being largely focused towards males, lent itself to it.
“This is a way to reach them via a very positive discourse on new masculinity. I am immersing myself in it.”
Having brought up two daughters, Parida says that she hasn’t had the opportunity to observe growing men (boys) as closely. “I am now thinking like a young man. I am starting to understand their challenges, aspirations, likes and dislikes.”
Tiivra will be launching composite (glass and carbon) fibre helmets against the plastic ones, which currently dominate the market. The composite fibre variants available in India are mostly imported and come with a hefty price tag (upwards of Rs 15,000).
“Our products will cost a lot less than the imported helmets, but we will be costlier than the plastic ones.”
A major part of the investments has gone into designing the product. Apart from just the look and feel, effort has gone into aspects like aerodynamic testing to reduce wind noise, optimising for various riding postures and getting the right paint for better night visibility.
“It is science, it costs money. If communicated right, the riders will understand. We had the easier and quicker route of importing from China, but it would lack design intelligence. There are 49 parts in a helmet, and we have either designed, or thought through every single piece.”
While there are quite a few helmet brands, like Steelbird, Vega, etc., the awareness about quality and differentiation is low. The communication from helmet and riding accessory brands has been muted across mediums.
“A large number of people are not looking for these products since nobody told them about it. There is little knowledge about the material that these helmets are made from. No brand has chosen to educate.”
Tiivra is also investing in getting global product standard certifications to explore markets beyond India.
“The cost of these certifications are really high, but it will allow us to sell products all across the world. It is great for riders too. We can’t claim to be the best yet, but we will get there. The dream is to be a global brand,” Parida signs off.