A game of skill: How Fantasy Akhada gives fans the opportunity to showcase their own sporting talent
Indian online fantasy sports platforms have witnessed a surge in users in the last five years, according to a white paper released by the non-profit organisation IndiaTech, citing data from a report by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS).
According to the report, Fantasy sports platforms have seen a revenue jump of 160% to INR 2,400 Cr in FY20.
Fantasy sports is gaining prominence as it allows users to experience the feel of a real sporting arena, through the comfort of their screens. They also learn all about the rules of games like cricket, football, basketball and kabaddi amongst other sports. These platforms allow users to feel the adrenaline rush that their own sporting icons and stars experience while playing these games.
Fantasy Akhada was launched in January 2020. It is a customer-centric platform which offers various game play options that will enhance the experience of sports fans across the country. Till date the platform has successfully managed to delight over 1 lakh fans across the country.
“Our company’s vision is to focus on sports engagement, and we believe Fantasy Sports is one of the key levers of sports engagement globally,” says Amit Purohit, Founder and CEO.
Harsha Bhogle, India’s much-loved cricket commentator who has vast knowledge in sports, has recently joined as brand ambassador of Fantasy Akhada as he wanted to empower young people and help them take their talent to the next level.
While he has been asked to represent a number of initiatives, he chose ‘Fantasy Akhada’ as he felt that it catered to true sporting fans.
When Amit and Harsha noticed that a lot of other operators focused on quizzes and alternate real money gaming options, they wanted their platform to be based solely on fantasy sport and they decided to go with the name ‘Fantasy Akhada’.
“Akhada” in Hindi (and in sporting parlance) stands for an arena where the best sportsmen congregate and battle it out. Their goal was to become the No 1 destination for sports fans in the long run.
When they noticed that there were over 180 fantasy sports operators in the country, their main USP was to focus on a customer-centric approach. With this goal in mind, they opted for personalised customer care for users 24X7 (365 days in a year) and safe and quick withdrawals from a user account.
“Our low commissions across contests make us a much-loved brand once the user engages with Akhada. Additionally, we have innovative gameplay options like Predictions (for casual fans), Normal Daily Fantasy Sports (for the core TG) and Match Club, a combined games fantasy sports format (for the slightly evolved sports fans),” says Amit.
The face of credibility
The team at Fantasy Akhada was clear that in a cluttered industry they needed to have a face to establish credibility and seriousness in this business.
“Harsha Bhogle was our top pick and we managed to convince him with our vision and hard work. Now, we just wish to focus on keeping our existing users happy and onboarding as many fantasy sports players as we can,” says Amit.
‘Online Fantasy sport is a great way of staying involved," adds Harsha Bhogle.
He likens it to being a part of two games at the same time – one that the players are playing and one that the players at home are playing.
Fantasy sports requires skill and is great fun. Plus, one can play at the price point that one chooses, as there is no pressure from any side and no tickets either.
“Fantasy Akhada is a group of hard-core sports lovers. They are young and ambitious, and I enjoy working with young people,” says Harsha.
Looking forward to the IPL and beyond
Harsha is looking forward to the IPL which begins this week. ”IPL is like a giant river that carries everyone along, and this interest draws people into the game even more and helps platforms like Fantasy Akhada,” he says.
Amit is also very bullish on the IPL. He expects new user acquisition to happen at a rapid pace but also expects existing users to be much more engaged than they are currently.
“This is our first IPL and hence we have a twofold responsibility – garnering a bigger share of wallet of the existing users who have loved us and at the same time onboard as many fantasy sports players who have not tried out the #AsliAkhada” says Amit.
Harsha agrees that the COVID lockdown and restrictions on watching live sport are hard for fans but he feels there is no point complaining. Like in any sport, one must learn to make the most of the situation, and who knows, we might all emerge tougher and humbler, he says.
The COVID-19 pandemic had its own set of challenges for Fantasy Akhada. The month of April was dismal as there were no games to host. However, since they were just starting up, it also was a blessing in disguise. "The Fantasy team used the delay to sort out operational inefficiencies which could have been problematic if the IPL had happened in March 2020," Amit says.
The team is pleased to have overcome all their COVID related challenges. As long as there are no restrictions on fantasy sports across the world, Fantasy Akhada is all set to empower and delight their fans in the days ahead.
(Image Credits: Amit Purohit and Harsha Bhogle)
Edited by Asha Chowdary