About three years ago, when two polo lovers from Rajasthan were looking around for equipment for their favourite game, they found that the process was cumbersome and little was available. Out of this difficulty arose an online portal called Polofactory, run by Jai Singh and Vikramditya Barkana which claims to be a one-stop shop for everything to do with polo.
Singh and Barkana, alumni of Ajmer's prestigious Mayo College, are a first generation entrepreneurs looking after the niche-of-niche businesses which cater to a sliver of the very rich.
"The enterprise was born from our passion for horses and love for the kingly game of polo," Singh told IANS. The ex-banker said that every service and every product that Polofactory offers are inspired by the game and the animal. Later, they extended the range to include fashion and lifestyle products.
It was at Mayo that they first discovered their love for horses. They would spend hours and hours at the stables, admiring the beautiful steed and the imported riding gear that their fellow students had brought with them.
Thus was born the germ of an idea.
After school, Barkana went on to work in New Zealand under the tutelage of Ross Ainsley, a leading polo pony trainer. There he learnt about horses and realised that the equipment one uses makes a major impact on the psyche and the body of the animal and, therefore, affects the performance of both the rider and the horse.
After a six-year stint abroad, Barkana came back and teamed up with Singh, combining his acquired expertise as a horseman with the latter's training in business management.
The duo, in their mid-20s, started Polofactory three years ago as a brand that trained polo ponies and designed and manufactured high performance polo equipment.
The response in the first year was good. At that time, however, Polofactory's products were limited to polo players and horsemen. They wanted to reach out to a larger audience and decided to venture into fashion and lifestyle products.
Today, the brand's fashion and lifestyle products are displayed by some of the best and most exclusive stores in the country including Hot Pink Jaipur, En Inde, Aashka Luxury Lifestyle Boutique, Teatro Dhora and Kalee.
Their aspirations did not stop here. They ventured into the service sector by adding a stud farm and providing support for polo matches and advice on horse management.
"The market for a unique skill-set is always huge. One needs to pitch the idea properly, ensure quality and there will be no dearth of good clients," Singh said.
Schools and realtors looking to create and manage horse riding infrastructure, filmmakers and event companies who have polo in their scripts and event planners are their main clients.
Polofactory even organises polo holidays, where players and rookies travel to destinations in India and other places, including Britain, Argentina and New Zealand.
"Polo has been a tourism product offering of Rajasthan. Polofactory has redefined polo tourism with their organised and highly memorable polo holidays" said Abhimanyu Singh Rathore of tour operator Travel Plan.
Barkana says his best hours are those that are spent at his stud farm, where he trains horses for the game.
"A man is at his finest on horseback. To connect with and to be in control of a four hundred kilo animal with a mind of its own is both thrilling and meditative. It's an experience that one cannot do justice with words; one has to mount up to know this," Barkana says.
(Anil Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)