India’s leading online platform for fantasy sports and the IPL title sponsor, Dream11 forays into the booming online gaming industry with a fresh $400 million fund.
- As youngsters isolate themselves during the pandemic, through gaming they keep themselves engaged and entertained.
- With the ban on Chinese apps and games, in particular to PUBG, India was forced to look for alternatives. Dream Sports launched their idea to draw revenues and investors to them through online gaming.
- Dream Sports has won the bid for the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League (IPL). With this announcement, they have cemented their position as the leader in the sports and gaming area.
- Apart from offering just fantasy gaming, the startup launched a multi-sport aggregator platform for sports fans, FanCode in 2019, where they can find detailed preview and review of the match under one umbrella.
Dreaming of playing cricket or hockey but a pandemic is not letting the team form in-ground; Dream Sports already got this covered. Way earlier in 2008, two sports enthusiasts Bhavit Seth and Harsh Jain came together to make their dreams a reality.
This Mumbai-based startup has lived through the horror startup phase and rolled its way to be in the country’s Unicorn club. Starting early, not many people welcomed this idea. They would still see this as a video game instead of a professional practice space. The investors and users undermined the scope of this platform that provided them with the window to play fantasy sports such as cricket, football, hockey, kabaddi, and basketball.
Being the first in the field comes with its charm and set of challenges. As opposed to the mature sports markets of Europe and the UK, where fantasy football was an everyday thing; India was still moving towards digitalisation. Putting their engineering degrees to use, both the founders started their business bootstrapped.
Their sports app defines itself as a Skill game and lets the user form a team of 11 online and take sides of either of the players from the actual pitch in the field. This entire concept came through when India launched the very first IPL, taking inspiration from it; an online version of this was initiated too by the Dream team.
Game of this skilled art is legal in India and, it rewards its users through cash prizes that can be availed through an affiliated Google Pay account. It is non-functional in the Indian states of Orissa, Assam and Telangana due to license issues.
Watch: Dream11 founder talks on the evolution of fantasy sports in India
Leading the way:
Indian entrepreneurs are pushing the government’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign, which urges businesses to be self-reliant. Founders of Zomato, Policy Bazaar, PayTM, and Dream Sports are diluting the stake of Chinese firms in their companies. Tencent Holdings Ltd, a Chinese multinational that owns the popular messaging app WeChat, owns less than 10 percent stake in Dream Sports.
The company has closed a $400 million funding round led by marquee global technology investors like TCV. It was TCV’s first investment in India through Dream Sports. They have earlier contributed to the business of Netflix and Falcon Edge abroad.
An IPL Bump:
Dream Sports made the right move by hitting the iron when it was hot. They approached the Indian cricket board for sponsorship right after Chinese smartphone maker Vivo had to drop out due to the anti-China wave in 2019. And this led to getting the sponsorship of the tournament worth Rs 222 crore at the Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
Making it grand through the Indian approach:
Led by former chief information commissioner of India, Bimal Jhulka, Dream Sports have set up a self-regulatory organisation, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports with 34 Indian fantasy league operators. Through this, they are setting a regulatory charter that everyone can uniformly follow. Niti Aayog, the government’s think tank, proposed uniform guidelines for the gaming industry.
Working toward being the Alphabet of Google Inc, Dream Sports also has a sports accelerator, called DreamX, which contains DreamSetGo and DreamPay. DreamSetGo lets the user to sports travel and experiences platforms for popular sporting events. And DreamPay is the company’s latest payment arm.
Expanding their outreach, in October 2019, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced Dream11 as their title sponsor for the Twenty20 competition. And in January this year, they extended this partnership for another six years until 2026. As part of their multi-channel marketing plan, they partnered with the best cricket team. None other than the previous captain, MS Dhoni as their brand ambassador. And launched the “Dimaag se Dhoni” media campaign during the 2018 IPL.