Will Mahesh Bhupathi, Vishal Gupta and Team ‘Sports 365′ Ace The eCommerce Game?
Upon even a partial glance, it becomes apparent that the Indian sports e-commerce industry today has quite a few attributes that are lacking. Aside from the fact that there aren’t many quality and reliable sports products on offer, there also isn’t a player that has a range wide enough to offer anything from a basketball to boxing gloves or from swimsuits to skates and scooters.
Setup by Mahesh Bhupathi, Sports365 plans to fill up exactly that void by providing great quality and a wide range of sports and fitness equipment to consumers, along with expert guidance. “Born out of passion for sports, the company’s vision is ‘to be the first port of call for sports and fitness related needs’ for individuals and institutions,” says Vishal Gupta, the co-founder and CEO of Sports365. From racquet to team sports and from leisure accessories to branded apparel, Sports365 has it all, encompassing an exhaustive online shopping list of products.
With Mahesh on board, one of the most recognized sporting names in India, the company brings together the right mix of skill and experience to successfully make sports and fitness equipment available to everyone in India.
For starters, having as the founder, someone with the distinction of being the first Indian to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament, would be a tremendous inspiration in itself.
With Bhupathi leading the fray as the director and Vishal, himself a seasoned professional and entrepreneur, as the CEO, the core management team is rounded off by another of the Co-Founders and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mr.Chandra Shekhar Reddy, an alumnus of IIM Lucknow.
The biggest challenge for any startup remains to get the right team in place and align the company’s vision. “We have built a leadership team from pedigreed institutes and experts in their respective fields. The leaders have all held positions in various technical and management fields, and are here for only one reason – to work on their passion, which is Sport. Every member of the team is an athlete and loves to play,” informs Vishal.
The team also comprises of Aashutosh, another IIM Lucknow alumnus, who leads the Marketing and Analytics division, Vinay, an XLRI grad, Dheeraj, who heads product management, Moy, who looks after logistic functions, and Sanam, who takes care of social media and digital marketing.
“The e-commerce portal, www.sports365.in has more than 8000 products from top brands like Yonex, Wilson, Puma, Babolat, Adidas, Prince, GM, Arena, Donic, Tunturi, Body Sculpture and many more. Expert advice is available on the website, through detailed product descriptions and live chat, to help customers pick the best equipment for their needs,” adds Vishal.
The major revenue stream for Sports365 is two pronged – B2C, through the e-commerce store and B2B, via institutional sales and services. “The B2B business is already generating cash and strategically complements the online business on sourcing and aggregated user base outreach (read offline marketing). The e-commerce portalwww.sports365.in was launched last month and is seeing steady increase on visitors and transactions,” says Vishal.
The marketing strategy followed is via a mix of online and offline modes. “Social Media, Digital Ads, and referrals are the key channels to reach out to internet users. Our access to sports experts and celebrities helps us to reach out and build our brand recall within their social network too.”
“We already see the benefits of this hybrid model to reach out to a wider and relevant customer base,” adds Vishal.
Specifically talking about the vertical titled ‘Sports and Fitness’, there don’t seem to be big players yet in the e-commerce market. Although there are a few smaller companies who are into sports e-commerce, the leaders at Sports365 clearly differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. Vishal identifies the following three points as the company’s USP:
a) Expert Connect – We help sports and fitness enthusiasts make informed choices to buy through expert guidance, be it through detailed descriptions, buying guides or interactive chat on our online platforms
b) Hybrid Business Model – With the e-commerce and institutional engagement model, we know for a fact that it is very important to connect with communities and aggregated user base at various academies, schools/colleges, corporate, fitness centers etc.
c) Team’s DNA – This one is the biggest entry barrier for competition. We are a team of highly qualified people, players & athletes. Sports/fitness is more than passion, a part of life for the whole team and reflects when we deal with customers.
“In 5 years, we will take the leadership position in India, on our e-commerce business. We plan to take majority market share in this space,” emphasizes Vishal. “We are already live and deliver across India through this channel. We will continue to bring more exclusive brands and assortments to consumer’s doorstep and build a rich offering and knowledge base for our addressable market.”
“On the other hand, our institutional engagement would continue to grow through channel partners and we will expand PAN India on that too. India will see Sports365’s presence on various other occasions other than selling products and services.”
With the undoubtedly capable leadership, far sighted vision and current enthusiasm in the team, the road ahead seems a very promising one and we, at YourStory are sure that truly remarkable success is right around the corner.
Kudos to the Sports365 team and here’s wishing them all the very best!!
To be blown away by their humongous range of products, do check out their portal here.