Betting on the odds
Hariharan, an IIM graduate, spurned blue-chip jobs to follow his passion for sports and dared to open Lord of Odds, an online sports prediction company-a hitherto unexplored territory in Indian market. He explains to YourStory why it is different from online betting.
Right from my college days, I wanted to do something on my own, although I had no definite idea or plan. After B.Tech, I worked for3 years with IBM and then went on to complete a PGDM from IIM Kolkatta and started working as an investment banker.
During one of those days, I met my friend from London, Rajesh, and we got talking about how big the prediction market of sports was in Europe. We realised that there was no organised player in prediction of sports, especially cricket, in India.
Soon, I left my job and along with Rajesh and another partner, Sidharth, started Lords of Odds in April 2007. It was to be a dedicated sports predictions company.
The biggest problem, however, was the image associated with sports prediction in India - that it amounts to betting and hence, is illegal. It was impossible to wish away that image, though the truth is that online predictions are based on the wisdom of the users and run on much the same ‘demand and supply’ theory applicable in every model of business. A lot of empirical data goes behind the predictions and we work out algorithms to quantify the feelings of our visitors through the weighted average system.
We tried to get around the image problem by appointing a law firm to advise us on dos and don’ts. We also obtained a note from them attesting our business. To a great extent, that helped in removing the doubts of sponsors.
In April, Castrol came as a sponsor to our online Moto GP race. In May, we closed a deal with ESPN to run the ‘Loot’ challenge during the recently concluded Asia Cup of cricket. Loot is the name of our online currency where every user gets a lakh of loot free to bet on online predictions. During India-Pakistan matches, the Loot challenge clogged the operator’s network.
We are the only organised player in the predictions market in India. We also do contextual predictions, which changes as the game progresses, especially in cricket. This helps in maintaining the viewer’s interest throughout the match. We are also the first site to bring predictions to multiple domains such as politics, current affairs, Bollywood, etc. We will shortly introduce the online predictions of stocks (sector wise) to engage people glued to the stock market.
What drives me is the passion for sports. I have always been a sports buff. My favourite is lawn tennis. Now, what could be better than mixing work with pleasure?