Allsport is a sports-based social networking and marketing platform. Working on a do-it-yourself model, the platform works to bring persons associated with sports together to interact and manage their products and services.
When Roger Federer defeated Rafael Nadal in one of the most anticipated finals of the Australian Open, 31-year-old Shumbima Mukherjee was unable to watch the magic. She was travelling but managed to get live updates from her friends. In this day and age of instant news, it isn’t hard to get information.
Shumbima also felt a pang as she remembered the time she couldn’t pursue her passion because of lack of information and infrastructure. And sport in India, as everyone knows, doesn’t have that many avenues. It was looking at this that avid sports enthusiast Anshul Bagai, who comes with over 18 years of corporate experience, decided to build Allsport, a social networking and marketing platform for people associated with and involved in sports.
The birth of the idea
“Due to mismanagement and lack of infrastructure and communication, India is lagging behind other nations in terms of sports. Various solutions designed on Allsport will be able to address some of these problems, so that opportunity can be provided to people to take various roles in the development of sports in India,” says Anshul.
With this idea in mind, Anshul roped in his friend Raman Singh, who is also a tennis player, to build the product.
Raman has over 15 years of experience in managing large technology programmes.
After building up the concept and idea with Raman and crafting the basics, Anshul roped in his sister Anjali Bagai as the third co-founder. Anjali comes with over 15 years of experience in product development and marketing.
The team decided to start at the grassroots levels – they built a product for schools. Through their research, the team found that most schools have a sports teacher. But the ratio of 1:660 makes it difficult for teachers to keep a proper track record of students’ performance and manage their stats, as there are currently no online systems being used for managing a database of students’ sporting activities.
Through the platform, sports teachers, parents and students can communicate and get notices and information about sports programmes, trials and tournaments.
Anshul adds that the platform acts as a repository where the entire database of students and their performance stats can be stored and viewed. This system can also be used by colleges and universities to track students’ performance and manage their tournaments.
Working across the board
“It will also make various stages of tournament and team creation automated, which will make the user’s event experience smooth, easy, efficient and transparent,” says Anshul. He adds that they are also trying to find patrons for various sports in order to encourage community sports.
Allsport also works with corporates, to help them participate in sports development. The team identifies the sports they want the corporates to associate with and then identifies what category of those sports they would like to help develop.
The platform has various profiles of talented juniors or professionals that can be showcased, and corporate houses, under their CSR initiatives, can help in the development of these individuals. The progress of these individuals can be tracked through regular updates.
It also facilitates an event manager’s task of managing different corporate sports tournaments, GPS search of venues, referees, umpires and other officials. Tournament results with pictures can be showcased on the platform.
Corporates, government officials, PSUs, government-aided organisations, and embassy teams are provided a dedicated space on the website where their tournaments, matches, teams and players are featured, along with a ranking system for teams and players.
“The ranking system is backed by a high-tech automated stats maintenance system that is built to keep records of each match, team and player,” adds Anshul.
Targeting everyone involved with sports
Users can search for sports coaches and instructors in their locality through the GPS search facility and can book and pay for the training slots of the best coaches by viewing their ratings and reviews. Individuals and teams can also discover and reach out to different indoor and outdoor sporting arenas around them, available for practice sessions and competitive games.
The platform also facilitates users with a virtual community space where like-minded people can come, share and discuss topics of common sporting interest. Members can browse and post articles, videos, images and discussions by exploring various sports categories. Says Anshul,
“As this concept is based on a new idea and there was nothing ‘obvious or common’ here, the greatest challenge was to explain to the tech team every minute detail of sports. Continuous training and constantly getting involved with the team was the only way of overcoming this challenge.”
Market and competition
It was reported that over 300 million tuned in to watch the 2015 Cricket World Cup semi-final between India and Australia. The opening week of the ISL – one of India’s football leagues – in 2014 got close to 170 million views.
Today, there is a growing number of startups that are dedicated to sports and building a sporting community in India, among which are Athletto, Playo, Smaash, Dreamsfield, PlayArena, XLR8, SportsCafe, Sportswave, Groundwala, Instasports, PlayNLive, and even BookMyShow-backed Fantain, to name a few.
Anshul, however, believes that the above websites are not in direct competition with Allsport, as the sporting solutions provided by it are customised and created for all the stakeholders in the sports ecosystem.
The team claims to have over 75 national-level schools listed on their platform. They also claim to have more than 26,000 users, 700 corporate houses, 32 event managers and 350 sports instructors and coaches on the platform.
Their revenues come from educational institutions, instructors, academies, sports associations and event managers. Over the next five years, the team is expecting revenues of Rs 40 crore from educational institutions and more than Rs 5 crore from instructors.
Apart from the core team, Allsport has Rajiv Bhambani, COO at Deutsche Bank Overseas International Service Centre, Nikhil Mehra, celebrity fashion designer and co-owner of Shantanu and Nikhil, Siddharth Jalan, Business Head at Times Internet, and Desh G Sekhri, Sports Lawyer at Sagar Associates, on the advisory board. The team also has Col O.P. Bhatia X, Executive Director of SAI and Shri Shekhar Dutt, ex- Governor of Chattisgarh as mentors.
Currently bootstrapped, the team is looking to raise funds. Speaking of their future plans, Anshul says, “Our platform has live products for players, instructors, coaches, educational institutions, corporate teams and event managers; in due course, we will come up with new modules for other user types, including sporting arenas, sports academies, associations, sports officials like referees, umpires and scorers, fans, sponsors, CSR initiators, and clubs.”
The team has claimed to have signed up with two MOU's with NGO's - STAIRS and Sports Infrastructure and Talent Development Society (SITDS), who have launched a skill development centre for sports and allied sciences.
Allsport will be working with STAIRS to run a state wide seven day Sports Festival in Himachal Pradesh as their digital and Technology partner in talent scouting and conduct of Regional sports tournament across 22 disciplines spread across seven districts.
Allsport is also working with the Center for Sports Sciences, Management and Research in collaboration with the Delhi Pharmaceutical and Research University to impart skill training to intermediate school passouts in sports physiology, nutrition and pharmacy, sports event managment and infrastructure management. This initiative will try to bridge the gap of skilled professionals in the management of sports and expert services in sports.
Center for Sports Sciences, Management and Research will incorporate digital management of sports technology tools, developed by Allsport as part of the training modules to provide trainers the ability to digitally manage processes involves in management of sports.