The untold story of MSD’s business ventures
“For me, it's important to build good partnerships rather than score centuries. Once you have those partnerships, you will also get centuries.”
We know enough about Indian cricket’s legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has championed us to more victories than we can count. What too many people don’t know is that Captain Cool possesses a keen business acumen, which has contributed to over forty percent of his annual revenue.
With Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story hitting the theatres this Friday, there is a lot of pressure surrounding the director, who won the National Film Award for A Wednesday! back in 2008. Defending his stance against accusations of glorifying an individual sportsperson, Pandey said in the movie’s official press release, “I think as storytellers we need to talk about everything. This story is about the hero in us. It’s a very motivational inspiring story. That can come from anyone. And MS (Dhoni) is a serving Lt Colonel in the Indian Army. So that should answer your questions.”
Although the movie will focus more on his inspiring rags-to-riches story as a cricketer, Dhoni’s interests extend beyond cricket, as evident from his various business investments, which include:
With an avid interest in Indian hockey, Dhoni was an active presence at the Hockey India League. Although his hometown of Ranchi already had an existing team called the Ranchi Rhinos, the team was soon to withdraw from the league after their owner, the Patel-Uniexcel Group, underwent a bitter disagreement in September, 2014. A month later, realising that this was the best time to take a course of action, Dhoni combined forces with the multi-million dollar conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar to buy the franchise rights and establish a brand new franchise, which they named Ranchi Rays.
Dhoni joined forces with Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan and Asian Paints’ Vita Dani in October, 2014 in co-founding the multi-crore Chennai Football Team, who won their first Indian Super League fixture with a 2-1 against FC Goa the same year. They went on to win the following year again, beating FC Goa in the finals by 3-2. Dhoni was delighted to co-found the team because he believed that the international players he recruited would serve as great inspiration for Indian players, a mix and match tactic that worked wonders for the Chennai Superkings in the earlier IPL seasons. According to The Hindu, he stated that this league would help Indian football at a grass-root level, spreading awareness and encouraging the younger generation of Indians to take an active interest in it.
Dhoni’s love for hot wheels is public knowledge. Fuelling this passion, he launched his very own racing team branded MSD R-N Racing Team India, later rebranded as Mahi Racing, back in July 2012. The team was then soon to compete in the FIM Supersport World Championship. Dhoni roped in the efforts of actor Nagarjuna Akkineni in the management of the team, with Akkineni later functioning as the Director of the team.
Being a leading sportsman and shouldering the pressure of a thousand watchful eyes, Dhoni understands the importance of fitness in the world of sports. To this end, he launched a fitness centre SportsFit with his business manager Arun Pandey in 2012. The company aims to establish a series of 200 gyms across the country in the next five years through an investment of Rs 2,000 crore in the venture. The company had planned its expansion through a franchising model through the five years following its inception. Dhoni reportedly handpicked all the equipment and shortlisted the trainers, of the 25,000 sq. foot Gurgaon gym of the Company.
M.S. Dhoni’s visionary sportsmanship and all his sports-related activities have made him one of the most respected men in the field. As we all book our tickets to watch his life story unfold on screen this Friday, we’ll know why.