Fans are Reason for Sportscafe’s Existence
In today’s digital world, content isn’t much of a challenge. However, sports enthusiasts Yashashvi Takallapalli and Prabu Thiruppathy felt there were very few Indian platforms that focussed on sports. Looking at several international sports platforms like Sky Sports, SI and talksport apart from daily news media, the duo felt the need to build a platform that focused on sports in India. Thus, they launched SportsCafe, a news and gaming startup aimed at using technology to cover all sporting action specifically for Indian sport fans. The ideation had begun when the duo were trying to follow Saina Nehwal at the Swiss-open last year. Twenty seven year old Yashashvi said, ‘we realised there weren’t any dedicated Indian sports websites that told us when the match was happening and any of the importance surrounding it. And we realised that this wasn’t just the problem with badminton, it included Indian hockey and lesser publicised sports.’ The founder of sportscafe Yashashvi told Employment News about his journey of entrepreneurship. The following are the excerpts of the interview:
Question : How did you get idea for the business?
Answer :We are first and foremost passionate sports fans. The idea of Sports Cafe came across when we were lamenting the absence of quality online sports coverage in India. In spite of being well settled in our jobs, we felt this was a challenge worth taking up. The fire in our bellies met the sports in our blood; and so was born Sports Cafe!
Q. What was your mission at the outset?
A. SportsCafe was born with a vision to make sports following for the Indian sports fan more fun and more engaging. We don’t believe in discourse, it is always a conversation for us. We provide live scores, the latest news; write insightful features and come out with informative statistics. And yet, we are so much more than that. We do satires and spoofs, parodies and caricatures, polls and discussions; in fact, we do them all. Users can start their interaction with a bot by typing a simple message such as “hi” or “hello”. The bot allows SportCafe to provide a user friendly platform for their viewers to customise their sports news feed by receiving news only about their favourite sports or sportspersons. Put simply, users can type in “news about Sania Mirza” and the bot will show them the most current news surrounding the tennis champion. Users can also get a quick summary of the article on the Facebook messenger itself through the bot.
Q. How many employees work in the enterprises?
A. The team today consists of four writers, three marketers, over 40 guest writers, and six technical guys. our website was launched in October last year, and the mobile app was launched in June this year. Our team is growing by leaps and bounds and we always have room for more people with a talent set which fills one single requirement - being passionate in whatever they are doing.
Q. What services do you provide?
A. We saw several international avenues that helped follow NBA, EPL, La Liga and even baseball online. Indian sports, however, had a massive dependence on general news portals with no dedicated coverage. The duo came up with the idea to create a must-have app for a sporting fan – not just for news but for utility as well. SportsCafe provides all updates and information on all the sports, fun sporting tit-bits as they move around a city, and live updates.
Q. How do you advertise your business?
A. It is about performance. Our users are brand ambassadors.
Q. To what do you attribute your success?
A. Since the genesis of our initial efforts, our team has expanded rapidly. Today the team consists of some of the most talented upcoming sports journalists covering the latest developments in sports and a highly competent tech team who act as enablers by providing superior visual tools and interfaces. At Sports Cafe, by striving to serve the Indian sports fan, we are living our dream every single day.
Q. How many users you have and what is the ratio of adding new users?
A. Starting from 10,000 users in December, the team claims to have hit about 1.5 lakh users in March and about five lakh visitors in June. They are looking at advertisements, content syndication, and freemium model on gaming and monetising partnerships as a revenue model.
Q. What is unique about your business?
A. For the Love of the Game! We wish to be not just limited to Cricket, but cover popular sports like Football, Badminton, Hockey, Tennis, Kabaddi and others of the ilk in an age where more and more Indian sports fans now follow local leagues and championships. Fans are the reason for our existence and we will never miss a chance to interact with you, whether it be, through our Website, Social Media, Forums or the App. SportsCafe exists ‘For the Love of the Game’ and completes your sporting experience.
Q. What is your immediate target and what are the responsibilities as the boss of a firm?
A. We are looking at creating a user base of around one crore, and to do that our focus simply is what is the next thing we can do for the user instead of what else we need to do to make money. Money will flow once we have the users. As a boss I keep motivating my friends working in the group.
Q. What made you choose this type of business?
A. We are passionate about sports, be it cricket or any other game. This passion for sport is reflected in the work place too. Inside the office, we strive to maintain the same zeal and passion in synthesizing and delivering our content. We cherish a fun and independent work atmosphere, fuelling the creative vibe in each of our employees, something that we believe is the essence to providing engaging content.
Q. If you had one advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
A.Take time before you start something. Once you start, give your 200 percent to your ideas. If it is taking time, let it be, have patience, one day you will succeed.
Q. What are the challenges you have faced in your business?
A.The task, however, was wrought with challenges. The team found it difficult in building a user base from scratch. They had to convince people that SportsCafe bought in something different. The team decided to focus on building highly engaging content – that had the passion of a sports blog and also got in the ethics of journalism. They also decided to bring a strong focus on social media, especially Facebook, and build various fan pages to generate an enthusiastic user base.
Q. What do you feel about the sustainability of startups in India?
A.This is the golden period to go ahead with. Challenges are everywhere but government is providing enough support for startups, so, don’t think, world is looking for you.