How Chandra Shekhar and Salim Khan are making Mumbai healthier, one community at a time

10th Feb 2016
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With a growing population and increase in buildings, the last few years have seen a lack of public spaces for people to play, and meet at. This has resulted in people who are passionate about sports not being able to pursue it once they graduate from college.

Another deterrent is the lack of sports facilities and network around people to find others with similar interests. Chandra Shekhar Panigrahi, 33, too faced this issue. He says,

Last year, I wanted to take a break from the corporate world. I am passionate about sports,so I wanted to enroll myself in a crash course for badminton, and participate in a few events happening in the vicinity. While searching online, I found out that information was either not available or scattered and incomplete, and I didn’t find local players to get connected to.

Chandra Shekhar got along with his friend, Salim Khan, 32, and started PlayersVilla in March 2015, Mumbai-based startup that helps sportsperson find coaches, facilities and playing communities around them.

Chandra Shekhar Panigrahi and Salim Khan - Founders Players Villa
Chandra Shekhar Panigrahi(L) and Salim Khan(R) - Founders, Players Villa

Prior to starting PlayersVilla, Salim worked with FoodPanda, while Chandra Shekhar worked with Wipro and UltraTech before he started PlayersVilla. At present, the team has six full-time people and three interns, with the co-founders looking after major sales and marketing.

Sports is something that is often not taken seriously in our country, so finding a market was tough. The biggest challenges was getting users for their platform, and their own misconception as they thought that recreational sports had not yet caught up as a category with people. However, once the team went on to do the market survey their apprehensions were laid to rest and people were highly encouraging of their venture. Initially, the team started with only 40-50 users on their platform but in the last one year have scaled up to over 600+ active users on their platform.

At present, PlayersVilla is spread across Mulund, Seon, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Andheri, Borivalli and Powai in Mumba iand planning to start in Pune and Bengaluru. It has received an angel round of Rs 25 lakh from a Dubai-based investor and is looking to raise the next round in the coming months.

How it works

PlayersVilla has a simple process to help people with their sports requirements. At present, it has basketball, football, badminton, cricket, carrom, tennis, table tennis, and zumba on the platform.

There are four offerings on the platform: finding a coach, booking a facility, participating in an event, and networking.

The company earns its revenue through multiple channels, including commission from coaches and academy for successful leads, apart from commissions from sports facilities for booking transactions and advertisements for PPC and CPM models.

YourStory Take

At present, there are quite a few companies in this space:Bengaluru-based Playo, JoinMyGame and PlayYourSport are startups active in this sector. PlayYourSport raised $16,000 from Hyderabad Angels in January 2015. There will be more players coming up in this sector, with higher income groups and rising comfort levels. There is a huge promise for growth in the outdoor sports sector but it is still dependent on the amount of funding available.

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