Saikat Basu and Mrutyunjaya Dash, both 34, almost always shared similar likes and dislikes though they met each other for the first time 10 years ago. While growing up—Basu in Kolkata and Dash in Rourkela—the two enjoyed fine arts as a hobby, and later developed a passion for motorcycles and long rides. Soon after joining the workforce, they realized the corporate life wasn’t for them.

“It’s not that I was bad at my job, I just wasn’t able to connect with it," says Basu, who joined Accenture in Hyderabad after graduating from the National Institute of Technology, Durgapur in 2007.

It was around this time a friend told him about “someone similar" who had taken up his first job, at Microsoft in Hyderabad after graduating in computer science from the National Institute of Science and Technology in Berhampur. The two met after connecting via social media. “We had similar kind of frustrations and aspirations. We clicked instantly," Dash recalls.

After several brainstorming sessions, the two decided to turn their interest in art and motorcycles into East India Motorcycle Revolution (Eimor), a custom bike art studio based. By 2011, they had rented a shed near their homes in Hyderabad and spent hours before and after office, working on a paint job on Dash’s motorcycle.

Changing times

“It started out as a necessity since we couldn’t find people who could do certain things for our bikes. But at the start, we had long periods of time where we had no work. So, we borrowed or bought helmets and painted them to keep busy," says Basu. In the beginning, the two put money from their own pockets and reinvested their earnings back in the business. “We were certain that we wanted it to be an organic growth," says Basu.

Their first big break came in 2013, when a Harley Davidson from Ahmedabad, that they had worked on, won the “Best Custom Bike" award at a bike show. At the same event the following year, three motorcycles that won top prizes had their signatures on them.

“The managing director of Harley Davidson India wanted to know just who these guys from Eimor were. So we ran up on stage and got a few photos clicked in excitement. But that is essentially where our journey began and when we first considered quitting our corporate jobs," says Dash.

He took the plunge in 2015 to pursue Eimor full-time; Basu followed the next year, and for the first time, the two drew salaries from the motorcycle business. Their families were initially not supportive of them starting their own venture since they believed in the idea of “secure jobs", but once Eimor picked up, they began supporting their vision. “I would have taken the plunge a few years earlier if I had my family and a home in Hyderabad. But since that wasn’t the case, we had to make enough money to pay the bills," says Basu.

Over time, a steady stream of customers lined up. They moved to a bigger shed after they decided to get into motorcycle modifications as well.

Driving growth

“More people know of us as motorcycle builders today, though our foundation is still very much custom paint jobs. We are both artists at heart with very different styles, and to be honest, a motorcycle is just a medium for our work. I think it is more fun to be creative, so that is really the driving force," Basu says.

Over the past four years, their client base has expanded to film producers, builders, politicians and actors across India, Tanzania, Germany and the US.

These days, they are building another shed next door where they intend to start working with cars. From two founders in 2015, Eimor today has 12 full-time employees who work on 50-60 motorcycles annually. “I think there is a lot of love and affection that you get with this job and the fact that you make people happy. That, in my opinion, is priceless," says Basu.

He admits there’s always a risk in leaving a steady, lucrative job and switching to “something new. This is where most people don’t do what they want to. Being impulsive is great, but at the same time, you need to plan your next move."

Detour features people who quit their 9-to-5 jobs and made their passion work.

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