Big spends and promising lineups: what can startups learn from IPL


Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders spent more than Rs 35 crore on top cricketers. The winning team, however, will not be made of superstars, but will be the one with the best combination of averages.

Startups can learn a thing or two from each Indian Premier League (IPL) team while building a product. Teams like Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Mumbai Indians are more consistent than others because of their ability to spot winners.

So, what is the IPL all about? It is, at the end of the day, a business of sport.One may ask what works: is it leadership, flair, flamboyance, a crack team or a combination of the best? Or is it about the money spent or the formula of the money spent or a winning combination of both. As history has shown, it is all about using the money wisely to create a winning combination and keeping the sponsor brands happy, because they gain the maximum from a team’s success.

A builder that once sponsored an IPL team told YourStory, on condition of anonymity, that although they spent Rs 4 crore on the league, they hardly sold a couple of apartments. So, why do it? Is it vanity? Often, it is the prestige of being associated with the right team. And it does not hurt if the team actually lifts the cup.

It, is in the end, like any corporate sport, a game for large conglomerate owners who can combine advertising, ticket sales and merchandising to boost their other businesses through brand-building, and making enough money to keep the franchise afloat.

Photo: IPL

When it comes to the sport itself, it is about teamwork. The team that is built around celebrity cricketers always loses. Maybe Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) is the best example of its fate in the IPL. But the team never fails to entertain. Similarly, Kings XI Punjab has for all these years failed to, like the RCB, lift the trophy, and it is because it depended on the success of one or two star players.

There is a key lesson for startups and our readers in general here. They cannot hinge their success on any one individual: a stellar engineer or a genius data scientist can contribute but cannot carry the entire burden of keeping a company afloat and successful. It has to be a vision set by the leader and executed and challenged by the team, which is why MS Dhoni has such a good winning streak.

Virat Kohli has leadership skills that are undoubtedly bold and motivating, but RCB, of which he is the captain, has become known more for entertaining the crowds than for winning. Despite coming close to winning the cup twice under Kohli’s captaincy over the last seven years and finishing third once the team is yet to notch up a win.

Sources say that most of the IPL teams make close to Rs 100 crore or more, yet only Kolkata Knight Riders has made consistent profits. But branding matters and that’s what the primary sponsors are betting on. In the scheme of things, their parent business brands must be doing well. Diageo, the liquor company, is the owner RCB and in fact the team name represents one of the Scotch-infused whisky brands of the company.

Here is a quick look at how the teams spent their money on winning combinations.

Kolkata Knight Riders: When the season draft began Kolkata Knight Riders had Rs 80 crore and after it retained Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, it had Rs 59 crore to spend at the auction.

It has burnt Rs 52.3 crore and saved Rs 6.7 crore.

The former league champion has a new side this year. Its most expensive players were:

  • Kuldeep Yadav – Rs 5.8 crore.
  • Dinesh Karthik – Rs 7.4 crore.
  • Robin Uthappa – Rs 6.4 crore.
  • Chris Lynn – Rs 9.6 crore.
  • M Starc – Rs 9.4 crore.

Chennai Super Kings: This team returned after a two-year ban and straightaway began to pick up players based on their performances over the last international and domestic cricket season in leagues across the world. Chennai had Rs 80 crore at the start of the draft, but was left with only Rs 47 crore after they retained M S Dhoni and Suresh Raina.

The team spent Rs 38.7 crore and saved Rs 8.3 crore.

This is the most popular team in the country, thanks to Dhoni, who has the ability to lead a winning side, and is the most consistent team of the IPL in performances. The team bought Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson, both international stars, at a steal, and have bagged Harbhajan Singh, the off-spinner too. Their most expensive players are:

  • Karn Sharma - Rs 5 crore.
  • Kedhar Jadhav – Rs 7.8 crore.
  • Dwayne Bravo – Rs 6.4 crore.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru: This team has let go of Chris Gayle, the star West Indian, but still remains one of the most loved teams in the IPL because of the explosive style of batting showcased by Virat Kohli and A B de Villiers. Before retaining these two players, along with Sarfraz Khan, the team had Rs 80 crore and finally ended up with only Rs 49 crore in the IPL.

Of this money the team spent Rs 47.8 crore and saved only Rs 1.2 crore.

They bought several players close to their base price, it included star batsman Brendon McCullum, South African wicket-keeper Quinton de Cock and English all-rounder Moeen Ali. Maybe this time they are playing to win with a winning combination rather than depending solely on Kohli and de Villiers. It has even picked Umesh Yadav, the Indian international pacemen, to shore up its bowling line-up, which has always been a let down so far. Their most expensive players are.

  • Yuzvendra Chahal – Rs 6 crore.
  • Chris Woakes – Rs 7.4 crore.

Sun Risers Hyderabad: This team has seen a change in owners and has won the IPL twice under different names, once as the Deccan Chargers and once as the Sun Risers Hyderabad.  The team had Rs 80 crore and ended up with Rs 59 crore at the auction after it retained star players David Warner and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.

The team spent all its money.

Now it all depends on how a combination of local and international players will make it the top team. It has players like Chris Jordan, Kane Williamson and Deepak Hooda who can boost the team’s performance with their batting and all-round performance.

  • Rashid Khan – Rs 9 crore.
  • Wriddhiman Saha – Rs 5 crore.
  • Manish Pandey – Rs 11 crore.
  • Shikhar Dhawan – Rs 5.2 crore.

Mumbai Indians

Mukesh Ambani’s stellar team and current champions have all the money in the world, but they know how to pick a balanced side. The team spent Rs 33 crore to retain Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.

They were left with Rs 47 crore to burn and saved Rs 3.3 crore.

  • Ishan Kishan – Rs 6.2 crore.
  • Krunal Pandya – Rs 8.8 crore.
  • Pat Cumins – Rs 5.4 crore.
  • Kieron Pollard – Rs 5.4 crore.
Photo: IPL

Rajasthan Royals: Former champions who have known to be frugal and yet bring the best out of their crop let their purse strings loose this year.

They had a whopping Rs 67.5 crore at the auction after retaining Steven Smith for Rs 12.5 crore. The team spent around Rs 55 crore and still has two million dollars to pick an unsold player.

  • Gowtham Krishnappa - Rs 6.2 crore.
  • Jofra Archer – Rs 7.2 crore.
  • Sanju Samson – Rs 8 crore.
  • Ben Stokes – Rs 12.5 crore.

Kings XI Punjab: A team co-owned by actress Preity Zinta, it signed up a lot of power for this IPL, including Chris Gayle, R Ashwin and K L Rahul. Will this make for a winning combination?

It had Rs 67.5 crore to pick players. And Preity spent Rs 65.8 crore to pick the top ones of the season. Now the problem is she has packed herself with big batters and the team could be let down in the bowling department if Stoinis, Ashwin and Tye don’t pick the wickets. But, IPL is all about big hitting. A lot of entertainment expected from this team in IPL 2018.

  • Andrew Tye – Rs 7.2 crore.
  • Marcus Stoinis – Rs 6.2 crore.
  • Karun Nair – Rs 5.6 crore.
  • K L Rahul – Rs 11 crore.
  • Aaron Finch – Rs 6.2 crore.

Delhi Daredevils: Another team that promised so much and played with many youngsters. It has been a team that has been finishing lowest for a long time now albeit a couple of good performances in a decade. After retaining Chris Morris, Rishab Pant and Shreyas Iyer the team had only Rs 47 crore to pick the best. They spent close to Rs 46.4 crore and has managed to pick some good players such as Jason Roy of England and Delhi boy Gautam Gambhir. These two will make an excellent opening pair.

Their most expensive player was:

  • Glen Maxwell – Rs 9 crore

Based on these picks, the teams are evenly matched. If based on the picks Delhi seems to have made good buys at the cheapest price and would gain the most if they win the tournament. But, as it has become obvious every year, anything can happen. The numbers and past performance favour Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. But every team has a chance to prove the numbers wrong.