Introducing Fantasy Sports to India Got this Gamer into Entrepreneur India's 35under35 List
A look at how two friends Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth outlined the beginnings of what turned into India's biggest sports gaming platform
Blenders Pride Reserve Collection presents Entrepreneur’s 35U35 list included some path-breaking names from the field of entrepreneurship and Dream11 co-founder Harsh Jain made it to the list for enabling aspiring entrepreneurs to have an online presence.
Two friends Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth outlined the beginnings of what turned into India’s biggest sports gaming platform – Dream11. The Mumbai-based fantasy sports startup offers multiple sports — fantasy cricket, football, kabaddi and basketball to its four crore strong user base in India.
In 2008, when the Indian Premier League (IPL) was launched, Dream11 chief executive officer and co-founder Harsh Jain went looking for a similar platform to play online fantasy cricket in India but it was non-existent. He was passionate about solving this problem and asked his friends if they wanted to join him, which led to his co-founder Bhavit launching Dream11 with him in 2009. It took them three years to find a product-market fit with freemium single-match fantasy sports in 2012.
The duo started experimenting with various formats on Dream11 and pivoted multiple times over the span of three years, before finally finding a product-market fit with freemium single-match fantasy sports in 2012.
Today, sports fans are constantly in need of engagement and thrive on being actively involved with real-time sporting action. Thanks to the ongoing digital revolution in India and the accompanying technological advancements, there are 300 million Indian online sports fans armed with smartphones and 4G.
Even though fantasy sports have been played worldwide for 50+ years, it was an alien product for the Indian market. For Jain, one of the greatest challenges has always been introducing a new concept to the Indian market.
“Launching fantasy sports in India for the first time in 2008 (after Super Selector had shut down in 2001) meant that we had to hard sell the concept to potential hires, investors, and most importantly, users! It took us a few years of experimenting with the format and a lot of perseverance before we finally found a product that would resonate with sports fans in India,” he added. Ever since the Dream11 journey began, his primary objective has been to have the utmost trust of its users.
The Series D funded startup has landed investments from marquee investors like Tencent, Kalaari Capital, Multiples Equity and Think Investments (a hedge fund in the Bay area).