Giridhar woke up with an unsettling feeling in his stomach. He had decided to sell off of his car, the only asset he was left with after selling off almost everything for his startup. He washed his dear car Hyundai i10 for one last time. Girdhar took a moment to adore his car which has been his constant all this while. It had made up for an office where his startup incubated. It also worked as a warehouse sometimes for carrying stocks. It proudly adorned the brand name and Logo of his precious Startup- Barrel Exhaust.

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This is the story of Giridhar Soundararajan- the proud founder of Barrel Exhaust which is a team of passionate Bikers who gave up mundane jobs with secured income to do something they enjoyed and cared for, i.e Motorcycles, in an effort to create happy bikers through building world-class products that enhance the pleasure of riding with a vision to “Create Happy Bikers“.

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It’s a story about a passionate entrepreneur who struggled all his way from selling on streets to building an international brand now selling automobile accessories in more than eight countries. Like most entrepreneurs, Giridhar also failed in his endeavor, and not just once but twice.

Giridhar quit his job in 2014 without a concrete idea in his head about what he wishes to do. He attempted to create two mobile apps within the span of one year both of which eventually failed. By that time he had exhausted his Provident fund from previous employment. He was responsible for his parents, wife, and a 5-year-old daughter. Even though in crisis, Giridhar never took any impulsive short-sighted decision.

It was a great relief that he had no loans or EMIs to repay. Soundararajan understood his responsibilities and always tried to make sure to deliver upon them. In order to provide for family’s daily needs and daughter’s education, he sold his 2BHK flat which was yet due for registration in 30 days. He says:

His story is about losing everything you have, to gain things that you want.

 

The bold decision to sell off the house had shaken Soundararajan and he needed to retrospect. The following afternoon he locked himself in a room not knowing the way forward. Incidentally, he received a call from a famed company for a senior designation but he politely refused. Giridhar figured that the past struggles have taught him plenty and there are virtues that others can spot in him that he himself is unmindful of. He gave himself one final chance and this time he was going to follow his gut feelings and nothing else.

Giridhar was always fascinated by automobiles and fighter planes. Even though he had an MBA degree, his heart lied in Engineering. In pursuit of his heart, Giridhar finally founded Barrel Exhaust in November 2015.

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But failure wasn’t done with him yet. As soon as Barrel Exhaust set up their own manufacturing facility in Bangalore with some funds he borrowed from friends and family things started to get more challenging. Hiring more workforce and managing many vendors across India become a big issue since not being big in scale meant very low or no credit period to pay the suppliers and at the same time more families to take care. To make things worse the demonetization had a major negative impact on the market for a temporary period which bought the sales down to almost 50%. By the time the markets recovered, GST rates for Auto Spares skyrocketed and forced Barrel Exhaust to revise the price which further hit Barrel Exhaust on the wound.

There was an acute shortage of funds but Giridhar somehow always managed to pay the employees. It had been six months since he last took his salary and paid his house rent. It was around mid-April when he realized that there’s no fund to fall back upon and this time he cannot pay his employees.

It seemed like life was asking Giridhar what his dreams were worth. To which Giridhar responded with ‘everything’.

The next step that he took must have been heart-wrenching. He was sitting in his Hyundai i10 trying to figure the way forward when a message popped up on his mobile screen from CARS24.com that read “We buy any car in just 30 minutes flat”. He told himself that families of the team were more important than his car. 

They say that the almighty makes you suffer only so much that you can bear and he gives you the resources to fight too.

When GS told his wife about the car, she said she can do without a car and that she believes he would do better soon.

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Giridhar believes that every Problem is a misspelt Opportunity.

So, even though life was bombarding him with problems, Giridhar did not miss a chance to challenge himself. He gave himself the target of buying a bigger and better car within three months.

When the team got to know what Giridhar has been doing to ensure they are paid on time, they took it on them to work harder and make Giridhar achieve his dream. Gradually things got better and sales jumped to about 230%. Barrel Exhaust started receiving inquiries and orders from countries like Thailand, Columbia, USA etc, and the banks were also being supportive. 

In just 3 months and 10 days, Giridhar and his team walked into a showroom and placed the booking for a 7 seater XUV500 that he had always dreamt of.

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Had the situation not gone bad at Barrel Exhaust, new business decisions that worked would have not taken. Had the situation not demanded me to sell my old car, a dream of owning a SUV would not have realised. It’s about how one looks at adversity that determines how well they are going to emerge from it. Sometimes bad situations occur to bring the best for you in life. It’s very important to understand that failure is the salt that adds taste to success.

Each entrepreneur is a monk who has let go off something that is dear to them in the hope to get to something bigger or better!

-Giridhar Soundararajan

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