Yuvraj Singh: The Risk-Taking Entrepreneur
The swashbuckling cricketer speaks about his cricketing career, cancer, and YouWeCan Foundation and Ventures
With nearly 12,000 international runs to his name and a bunch of important wickets, star Indian cricketer, entrepreneur and humanitarian, Yuvraj Singh has been one of the best limited-overs match-winners to don the India jersey.
The left-hander made massive contributions for India over the course of a 17-year international cricket career which began all the way back in 2000. It is not a stretch to say that Singh has been the protagonist of some of India’s biggest victories, with the Chandigarh-born all-rounder starring in the team’s run towards the 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup titles. Tributes poured in for the batsman as his retirement made the cricketing universe emotional.
While he is now far away from the hustle and bustle of international cricket and the IPL (Indian Premier League), the former India man is relishing his post-retirement life.
“Cricket has given me everything and I am grateful for all the experiences, learning and opportunities. However, there comes a point in life where you realize that in the quest of your ambitions, you have been running at a fast pace from one phase of your life to the other, and not able to appreciate it. Moreover, I played all my life with utmost integrity and honesty and was able to achieve great things for my country. Putting things into perspective, I made the decision to move onto a different phase in my life and it has been great. I have been spending my time with family, doing things that I am passionate about apart from cricket and just living in the moment. I feel relaxed; I have also been enjoying my time reading fan messages and mails. It feels good to be loved and I think I have more time now to appreciate it. The infinite love of my fans keeps pulling me back to the field. So you never know, I might surprise you one day,” he told Entrepreneur India.
The Comeback Man
Yuvraj’s remarkable story includes his valiant fight to beat cancer successfully in 2012 before making a full return to India duties. The former India all-rounder is now aiming to create awareness about the affliction through his foundation YouWeCan which was established in 2012.
“During the toughest days, I couldn’t stop dreaming of what it would feel like to wear Indian team colors again. My mother, Shabnam Singh, was also there for me at every step of the way, making me believe that there is a way out. While I was still grasping with the seriousness of the situation, she picked up falling pieces and put on a brave face to keep me strong. My biggest inspiration and motivation was to come back and play for my country again.”
According to the southpaw, as an entrepreneur, his perspective is inspired by on-field learnings and personal life experiences. On the field, he has seen several ups and downs, faced challenges and criticism, and also celebrated milestone moments like the 2011 World Cup, but what has worked for him is persistence and focus on goals. “I believe the same has worked for me as an entrepreneur as well. Off the field too my battle with cancer and the bounce-back was a result of my will to keep going till the end and not giving up until my goal is achieved.”
“The YouWeCan Foundation is extremely close to my heart. My battle with cancer was extremely difficult and taught me a lot. Many cancer patients in India are not able to access quality healthcare services either due to a lack of awareness or lack of funds. The key to fighting cancer in India lies in better awareness, more screening and in providing support and assistance to patients throughout and post their treatment. Hence, came the idea of YouWeCan Foundation. We focus on four key areas: awareness, screening, treatment support and survivor empowerment,” he said.
YouWeCan Ventures is a result of his passion to make a difference. He believes there are many talented people with unique ideas but no access to resources that will help build the idea or grow the business.
With YouWeCan Ventures, Singh is empowering these aspiring entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams with financial support, mentorship, brand building, strategizing effective marketing campaigns, developing monetization of the business model and more to help them scale up to new levels. “We look at businesses/ideas that have foundations strong enough for me to take ‘smart’ risks and make me believe that if the risk backfires, the business will still be sustainable. After all, if you don’t take risks, you will lose valuable opportunities in this highly competitive world of startups.”
His advice on budding entrepreneurs is a quote he came across and it stayed with him and that is, “Don't be afraid to dream big and take risks. If you succeed you'll be happy and if you fail you'll be smarter.”