Pitch Invasion - Invading the Online Cricket Pitch
The IPL season is here and once again we are intrinsically involved with the ups and downs in the fortunes of Gayle, Dhoni, Bravo, Pollard, Sehwag, et al.
In April 2011 Bangalore based startup Pitch Invasion started off, coinciding with IPL 4. “We tested the technology, format etc in the first week of IPL. From the second week we opened up to the public. The response was excellent and people started flocking to the site during match hours. Our server crashed on the second day itself after which we had to upgrade to accommodate the traffic. Sprite had noticed this new wave and came on board as a sponsor after one week of going public,” said Madhukar Jha, Co-founder, Pitch Invasion.
The experience of live tweeting while watching the 2011 cricket world cup was an eye opener. “We realized that it’s possible to re-create a virtual feeling of watching cricket with friends. But unfortunately, most people have a small number of followers on Twitter and hence need a cricket marketplace where they can hangout and interact with others following cricket at the same time,” said Madhukar. They realized that one strong element was required to hook people in. Audio commentary was that hook and hence the Pitch Invasion team decided to include live, interactive audio commentary.
The other co-founder, Anupam Mukherji, became famous during the first season of IPL as the Fake IPL Player. “Anupam’s background as the Fake IPL Player has worked well for Pitch Invasion. The initial set of listeners came from those who were following his blog and tweets. We got a lot of word of mouth recognition because of this. Further the Fake IPL Player brand lends itself well with the irreverence and humor of PI. And it brings in credibility in engaging the audience that helps in building confidence with potential sponsors and investors,” informed Madhukar.
There is a set of regular panelists and also a set of guest panelists. The regular panelists include Procheta Mallick, a PhD in Astronomy; Kunal Jaiswal, an engineer; Madhukar Jha, with ten years of experience in managerial and leadership roles; Arvind Iyer, a filmmaker and Anupam Mukherji. Bhasker Jaiswal, an advertising professional and Anurag Mallick, a travel writer also join the panel whenever they are in town. The operations of the site, in terms of technology, design, financial and legal solutions are taken care of by the co-founders.
“We believe that there will be over 300 million sports followers online in India by 2015. In fact even this number may be conservative given the explosion in mobile internet devices. This is Pitch Invasions’s primary addressable base. We are also evaluating options of getting into non-sports related areas in the future. Thus potentially we could be targeting the entire mobile and online community with a bouquet of offerings by 2015,” said Madhukar.
Sponsorships and content syndication are currently their main revenue sources. They also provide business to business content creation services and are in advance level of talks with potential clients for providing managed services for brands and entities looking to engage with their target markets on an innovative online platform.
Currently Pitch Invasion is a privately funded entity, but they are planning to raise funds shortly. “We expect to raise funds shortly to spur rapid growth and we have had fruitful talks with potential investors,” informed Madhukar. Firstly, they want to move beyond cricket and foray into other sports, but they plan to primarily cater to the Indian audience, as of now. Speaking about some of the other expansion plans, Madhukar said, “We see potential in having shows in vernacular languages like Tamil. Also, Hindi-only content has its own set of takers. We will explore moving into ‘live events’ of interest to our target demographic. We also plan to add more features to the platform, like games and apps, superlative audio content search, listener profiles and rankings and greater interactivity with popular social media.”
Madhukar sums up the experience of starting Pitch Invasion perfectly by saying, “We watch TV and talk; can anything be better?”
We at YourStory.in wish Pitch Invasion the very best and will be keenly following their progress.