There is Sourav Ganguly, and then, there is Dada. The former is a world renowned athlete who was unparalleled in the sport he played, while the latter is a national sweetheart who has received unparalleled adulation from his fans for his all-round contribution to the country’s ethos.
But, this would not have happened if Dada had a one-track approach to being successful—and as he announces his first ever plunge into entrepreneurship as an investor for the Mumbai-based Flickstree, his acumen and zest for progress becomes more apparent than ever.
Keeping his eggs in various baskets comes naturally to the aficionado. As a child, the right-handed cricketer played with the left-hand in order to emulate the style of his elder brother and idol, Snehashish, and to be able to use his cricket kit. He then even abandoned his paramour, football, upon Snehashish’s insistence, in order to give the world a cricketing legend.
Today, he follows in the trails blazed by role models like Ratan Tata, for he believes that any smart businessman must heed the startup wave, and contribute to it.
“Souravs are important for something to be successful, and this startup has two!” he quipped (referring to himself and one of the co-founders of the startup, Saurabh Singh) at the media roundtable held at The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai on Tuesday to make the announcement.
“Sourav Singh’s belief and his energy is what had me convinced. And I strongly believe that every truly smart and successful businessman should try their hand at the startup ecosystem. Ratan Tata is my idol, and I am following in his trajectory,” he said.
The startup, Flickstree, is a tech-entertainment company, started by Saurabh Singh, Rahul Jain and Nagender Sangra in 2014. Its proprietary algorithm was made live in the form of a web and app-based platform in August 2016. The machine learning powered technology makes movie and video recommendations to users, based on their preferences and consumption patterns.
Sourav participated in its seed investment round worth Rs 3 crore, along with other institutional investors like Venture Catalysts that took the lead, the Kolkata-based Aditya Group with investors like Anirban Aditya and Ankit Aditya, and Moksh Sports Ventures.
It's not just Sourav who believes in putting his eggs in multiple baskets. Others of his ilk such as Yuvraj Singh took the entrepreneurial plunge in 2015 when he turned an investor with his YouWeCan Ventures, a venture fund he launched along with former PwC consultant Nishanth Singhal. The fund has already built an impressive portfolio of startups.
Brand Sourav has been teasing the world about its possible forays into business, entrepreneurship and startups for three years now, but Sourav explains that this was the opportune time and industry for the second innings of his career. “Cricket and movies both have the strongest ability to take this nation on an emotional rollercoaster. I myself either watch a cricket match or watch a film. Moreover, it’s a digital world at the moment. I mean, when I played cricket with Sachin Tendulkar, he wouldn’t utter a word, but now you see him Tweeting every half an hour. Taking a leaf out of his book, I truly believe that the digital era has arrived,” he tells YourStory.
The timing, he says, had everything to do with his interactions with Saurabh Singh over the past one year. “I was involved in so many other things, so, he patiently got me to understand his concept over a span of five to six months, and I was convinced. I didn’t know where it was going–then again, who knows where anything is headed in life! But, I was willing to stake this–I truly believed that this will be successful,” he says.
This is not the first time Sourav Ganguly has batted for entrepreneurship in the country. Upon the request of Mamata Banerjee, the beloved cricketer who is especially revered in his home state, also hosted the reality show “Egiye Bangla—Apni Jokhon Entrepreneur,” which was sponsored by the West Bengal government. “It was so fascinating to see young people with such fierce ambition; that’s exactly how I was when I was young. I wanted to take India to new heights. You always believe in the youth of a country—they are going to take the country forward. The late 20s phase in your life is when you want to do so many things in the world, and with experience and exposure, you have the confidence to tread the path,” he says.
However, he says that it is too soon to call whether he is going to become a serial investor and enter the game of investments more aggressively. “Let’s do one thing at a time, let’s get this money back and then we’ll see what’s next,” he says.
In that regard, he intends to be closely involved with FlickStree, particularly with its brand-building functions. “When I sign up for something, I give it my everything. While day-to-day operations and product development will be handled by Sourav and his team because they are definitely closer to the subject, I will be more involved with the branding, and as I learn more, I will take on more responsibilities,” he says, before signing off.