When Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth founded a sports fantasy application way back in 2008, both of them were studying engineering overseas. A little over a decade since, the co-founders of Dream11 earned their biggest hype on Tuesday, with their prized possession having bagged the title sponsorship rights for the Indian Premier League’s 2020 edition.
Even before both Jain and Sheth had completed their engineering and MBA in USA, the duo had founded Dream11 with a vision to explore into fantasy sport, which was a relatively uncharted territory back then. With fantasy sport — cleared by the courts of not falling into the ambit of gambling — having emerged as a new avenue for fans, Dream11 has become the market leader.
With more than six million users, the portal has already built a niche for itself in the domain. For the last two years, it has been the International Cricket Council’s partner, besides being the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Indian Premier League’s official partner.
With an array of top-notch investment firms across the globe, including Kalaari Capital, Multiples Equity, Tencent Holdings and Steadview Capital Management, Dream11 is one of the most stable and thriving start-up ecosystems. In Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the company has an ideal brand ambassador to capitalise the cricket fan market across the globe.
Interestingly, at a time with the government having initiated an anti-China movement following the recent Galwan valley fracas, Tencent’s minority stake hasn’t gone against Dream11. Besides Dream11, Byju’s – who is Indian cricket team’s principal sponsor and was one of the bidders for IPL title rights – also has Chinese investment.
With the IPL title rights at its disposal only till December 31, it will be interesting to see how the company tries to maximise its bid of Rs. 222 crore.
Going by their legacy and lineage — Harsh is the son of Anand Jain, a close family friend of Mukesh Ambani — Sheth and Jain will be looking forward to take their dream to the next level in the next four months.