The latest entrant into India’s e-gaming segment, StarPick believes their platform brings out the competitive spirit among gamers and helps build communities. The startup's Co-founder and CEO Trigam Mukherjee reveals how innovation will be their differentiator.Thimmaya Poojary
In two days, India will come together to pursue the nation’s one common – and biggest – passion: cricket. The World Cup kicks off in in England on May 30, and the Indian team led by Virat Kohli is a fan favourite. And even while the men in blue stay on the ball, fans at home are preppy for fantasy sports.
Fantasy sport is suddenly big business in India. There are an estimated 60 fantasy sports platforms in India at present as compared to the handful of companies in the sector a few years ago. A joint report by the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) and KPMG states that there are about 20 million fantasy gamers in India right now as compared to the two million gamers in 2016.
No wonder that StarPick, a fantasy sports platform with offices in India, the UK, and Sweden, is keen to build on the momentum.
Trigam, along with Co-founders Rohit Nair and Ulf Ekberg, founded StarPick in 2018. The company, which has received certain institutional funding, had the genesis of idea when the startup was born in 2017. Even then, the core team was confident that fantasy sports would take off in a big way in India, and that it would not be restricted to cricket but would also include soccer, kabbadi, Formula One, golf, and other sports.
StarPick debuted its platform with the 2018 IPL Season and there has been no looking back since then. The platform now has 1.2 million members and counting, and several cricketers, including Harbhajan Singh and VVS Laxman, have signed on as brand ambassadors.
Trigam says the idea is very simple: a user pays a fee and joins the platform to become a manager of a team with phantom money, and competes with others. The users receive awards for their performance, including cash, gifts, and trips abroad.
Trigam says tactical skills, knowledge of the game, and other elements come into play while competing on the platform. What creates a winner is how the person builds his or her team within a particular budget.
The e-gaming segment is growing very rapidly in India. According to the IFSG-KPMG report, revenues have nearly doubled over a four-year period, reaching Rs 4,380 crore in FY18. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.1 percent and touch Rs 11,900 crore by 2023.
IFSG says two out of three sports fans in India are aware of fantasy gaming today, and an estimated 100 million will take to one or more of the platforms/apps by the end of 2019.
StarPick competes with Dream11, the poster child of India’s fantasy gaming ecosystem which lets users create imaginary teams and earn cash based on selected players’ actual match performance. Other competitors include Mobile Premier League, HalaPlay, BalleBaazi, and Gaming Monk.
However, Trigam believes that the ecosystem of fantasy sports needs to come under some sort of government regulation to foster further innovation.
In the near future, StarPick will bring more games on to the platform, but cricket will be the dominant theme. Trigam adds that platform like theirs will foster the growth of sports in India as users create communities and there are more conversations around this.
According to Trigam, StarPick plans to register over 5 million users by 2020, and is also looking to raise additional round of funding.
(Article updated to remove incorrect reference to esport)