Whether it is mesmerising the audiences with their sixes, ruffling opponents with their powerful serves, or shuttling their way to become world champions, sport stars have always been close to the hearts of millions of Indians rooting for the game.
But after hours of dedication and practice, do sporting superstars of India replicate the same success when they are off-courts and fields. The following is the list of 11 sporting champions from the Indian circuit who have had their tryst with entrepreneurship.
1) Yuvraj Singh
A dynamite at the cricket pitch, Yuvraj Singh has inspired millions of people not just by hitting six sixes but also winning his personal battle against cancer. Now he is all ready to inspire startups through his investment firm YouWeCan Ventures. Through this initiative, he aims to help exceptional entrepreneurs to build great brands, teams, and companies.
As the website says “We give Startups a Start.”
2) Virat Kohli
From one blaster on fields to another, Virat Kohli in May last year launched his chain of gyms and fitness centres called Chisel in association with Franchise India. The firm plans to launch a total of 75 centres in three years, while Virat’s investment in the chain is almost INR 90 crores.
In 2014, Virat launched his first fashion brand Wrogn. He is also a co-owner to Indian Super League football club FC Goa.
This god of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, also seems to be the god on the startup field. The master blaster has put multiple investments in budding businesses like Musafir (UAE-based Internet travel company), Smaaash (sports simulation), Kochi Franchise, Indian Super League (Sports League), S Drive and Sach (healthcare and sports fitness products), Universal Sportsbiz (celebrity merchandise), and Mumbai Franchise for the International Tennis Premiere League.
4) Mahesh Bhupati
Mahesh Bhupati started Globosport, a sports marketing and celebrity management company. The high came when Globosport signed up to manage the commercial interests of Andy Murray, who is ranked No 2 worldwide.
In 2014, Mahesh Bhupati was also seen investing in Sports365, an online store specialising in sports goods and fitness equipment. Cricketer Yuvraj Singh also holds a partial ownership in Sports365. In 2015, Sports365 announced the acquisition of Tennishub.in. With a successful venture running, Mahesh has also founded the International Premier Tennis League in an endeavor to bring quality tennis to Asia.
Also read: Announcing YourStory Startup Sports League
5) Kapil Dev
After guiding the Indian cricket team to victory in 1983 for the Cricket World Cup, Kapil Dev was all set to repeat his guidance. But only this time it was startups through his role as an angel investor.
In 2014, India’s best all-rounder also co-founded and invested in SloPho, a social gamified collaboration platform slowing users to win prizes by participating in games, contests, pools, and quizzes.
According to publications, he has also invested in PeopleEasy.com, an online grocery portal. Last year, the cricket legend along with London-based Bay Capital Founder Siddharth Mehta and others invested $3 million in SAMCO Ventures.
But his investments go back to 2005 when he picked up five per cent stake in Zicom Electronics. In 2009, he entered into a marketing agreement with South Africa-based Enviro-Light Technologies to launch eco-friendly street lights. He also formed a new company, Berget Buildcon Pvt Ltd to enter into the street light business and has secured rights for sole distributorship from Enviro-Light
6) Saina Nehwal
In September last year, the queen of badminton in India had decided to invest in ventures and businesses. She chose her father and financial service provider Edelweiss to manage her funds. Later in November, we saw her batting for women’s personal care by investing in Paree sanitary pads.
7) Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble’s success doesn’t resound only in the cricket fields but also in the entrepreneurship game. Founding his sports consultations and training company TENVIC Sports in 2010, the firm aimed at working with schools to provide structured training at grassroot level. Reports claim that the firm has tied up with over 30 schools in Bengaluru and other parts of the country, cashing in revenues of over eight crore.
8) Umesh Yadav
The right arm fast bowler was seen making his way in the startup ecosystem through angel funding Kolkata-based Fashionove. Fashionove, a location-based hyperlocal fashion search and review portal, connects shoppers with local independent fashion stores and boutiques.
9) Robin Uthappa
Robin Uthappa found himself investing 1.5 crore in Bengaluru-based iTiffin, a startup in the sphere of online tiffin delivery. Ironically, reports claim that his previous venturing into the restaurant and hospitality markets didn’t find much ground.
Considered to be one of the best captains to the Indian Cricket team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni hasn’t been far behind in the entrepreneurship game. In 2012, ‘Captain Cool’ co-founded and launched his own fitness brand SportsFit that aimed at expanding through franchising models with gyms to revolutionise and encourage fitness regimes across the country. SportsFit gyms are located in New Delhi and Gurgaon with Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd being the parent brand handling these gyms and Dhoni’s commercial interests.
But with sports team franchises being hot cakes, the India captain wasn’t far behind in putting his investments to co-own the Chennai-based football club Chennaiyin FC. He also co-owns Ranchi Rays, the hockey club from Ranchi in the Hockey India League.
11) Sharath Gayakwad
Sharath Gayakwad is not just an inspiration in the waters, but also in real life. His gusto and 'never give up' proposition also shows in his venture Gamatics. This Arjuna awardee through his firm is fulfilling basic requirements of swimmers by providing a marketplace to order high performance practice gears and equipments. The platform also lists nutritionists and physiotherapists, aiming to bring the community together through sharing ideas and recognizing talents at every state to bring out the best in them.
We are pretty sure that there are other sporting champions who have made a mark through their businesses. Do drop in a comment and we’ll love to hear from you about your favourite sporting entrepreneur inspirations.
Tarush is driven towards delivering unbiased and accurate reportage while engaging with as many mediums as possible to narrate a fresh perspective. Working for the past few years in the digital space with YourStory, he has covered the Indian technology ecosystem extensively, focusing on new age Fintech companies, while building strong connects within the industry.