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This Startup Backed By Sachin Tendulaker Lets You Play Against Shoaib Akhtar And Ronaldo The virtual gaming startup is close to raising Rs 200 crore ($30 million) from private equity investors.

By Ritu Kochar

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Known as the God of Cricket to all, Sachin Tendulaker puts similar passion in everything he does and this makes their chances of succeeding so high.

His career in cricket is the proof of that and so is his startup venture in the sports industry. A sports-based virtual entertainment company, Smaaash Entertainment, founded by Shripal Morakhia and co-owned by the ace cricketer, is close to raising Rs 200 crore ($30 million) from private equity investors, says a report in The Economic Times. The money will be raised to fuel its expansion plans outside India.

"Right now we are in the midst of raising money for our international expansions and we should announce the closure in the next one month," Smaaash founder Shripal Morakhia said to ET. The investors are global PE funds but the names are undisclosed.

Smaaash is a unique startup in the gaming and sports industry and one of the few which are not internet based. And when the world is shifting towards internet, it gets harder to get investment when you're not one of them, Shripal stated saying, "These days, every investor is running after internet-based companies, so we really had to struggle and we are fortunate that people have decided to back us." But when you have the Master Blaster with you, I believe there's only little one must fear.

Offering virtual gaming, the startup lets you play against famous international cricketers and footballers. You can bat against former Australian spinner Shane Warne and former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar or even test your moves against Cristiano Ronaldo. The game uses algorithm-based techniques and has options to pitch ball in cricket and collect, dribble and block goals in football. The firm has already signed up with 47 cricketers from various countries whose actions are recorded for about two weeks. "We have created virtual models of (London's) Lords Stadium and put the cricketers against that," Shripal added. "It takes us 12 days to actually make people play. We study the player's bowling strengths and through an algorithm we create a library."

Currently operational in five arcades at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, Smaash will be opening centres in Ludhiana and Chandigarh, and two more in Delhi. Apart from this, they are planning to open gaming centres in several overseas spots including Mall of America in Minneapolis, one of the largest malls in the United States, shopping and entertainment destination called Festive City in Dubai, and one in Jeddah. Apart from Tendulkar himself, the venture received investment from Mauritius-based FW Sports Investment Fund in the past.
Ritu Kochar

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

Ritu used to work as a Feature writer for Entrepreneur India.
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