This 31-Year-Old Is Quashing Country's Ill Perception Towards Skill Games
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On a trip to Las Vegas, Navkiran Singh was amazed by something which mostly people hear or see on screens. Singh, who grew fond of poker since his early college days, was flabbergasted when he saw the thriving poker industry in the western countries.
In India though video games have enjoyed considerable popularity irrespective of age groups, poker or any other card game has not been not looked up to. “Real money gaming (RMG) platforms have a perception problem in our country, unlike the western world where there is clear awareness and understanding of skill gaming,” Singh added.
However, Singh after seeing how big the poker business was in the West was energized with the thought that he will build an indigenous poker portal for Indian players.
After completing BE in Information Technology from Manipal University, and having worked with the National Informatics Center and TCS, Singh took a plunge into the world of entrepreneurship by launching Baazi Games in 2014. The platform offers safe, secure and trusted skill-centric online gaming experiences through its three gaming arms: PokerBaazi.com, BalleBaazi.com and RummyBaazi.com.
Commenting on its flagship offerings PokerBaazi, Singh said, “We digitized Poker for India and came up with features and promotions designed specifically as per users’ preferences.”
Currently, PokerBaazi.com has over a million registered users since its launch in 2014. BalleBaazi.com, a cricket fantasy platform which was launched in 2018, has over 6 million users and RummyBaazi.com which is the newest entity has gathered a community of close to half a million.
The company which attained break-even point in its inception year has over the years raised multiple rounds of funds for its different gaming arms. In 2017, Baazi Games raised $6 million and the very next year it bagged $5 million from a UK-based firm. BalleBaazi.com raised Series A funding of $4 million from two external investors in July 2019. RummyBaazi.com later got seed funding of $2 million from Udtara Investments and another $1 million from its parent group Baazi Games in August 2020.
The year 2020, unlike others, led to a slight increase in activity on PokerBaazi.com and RummyBaazi.com. BalleBaazi saw almost negligible activity because most of the live sports were called off amid the virus outbreak. However, the company ran a lot of engagement-led activities such as freeroll leagues, quizzes, and fantasy leagues for virtual sports, due to which Singh and his team were able to retain audiences on the platform. The gaming arm added additional 2 million users during the popular T20 tournament, IPL 2020.
He also added that NITI Aayog’s recommended plan will bring more transparency in online fantasy sports (OFS) and real money gaming (RMG). “With Niti Aayog’s recommended plan, there will be tectonic shifts in the OFS and RMG industry as users and operators would make it more transparent and aid in removal of the stigma associated with it,” he said.
Navkiran Singh made it to the list of Entrepreneur India’s 35Under35 list of 2021