It’s almost cliched to say that cricket is not just a sport but a religion in India. Almost every follower of the game claims to be an avid expert, selector and analyst by themselves.
Cashing in on this enthusiasm is StarPick, a popular fantasy gaming platform in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. The company launched its Indian edition on Tuesday in a star-studded event in Bengaluru, just ahead of the 11th edition of IPL.
Present at the launch were the likes of erstwhile players like batting session VVS Laxman, fielding legend Jonty Rhodes and ace spinner Harbhajan Singh. Among the present crop were Indian Vice-Captain Rohit Sharma, the man of the moment Dinesh Karthik and southpaw Gautam Gambhir.
All of them are associated with the company in various capacities, including as brand ambassadors.
Speaking about the company, co-founder and COO Trigam Mukherjee said, “The company’s foolproof technology will ensure that the fans of the game can now actively engage themselves with the game even more and even win prizes.”
“Fantasy sports will contribute to the growing popularity of sports in India and gives access to every little town that has witnessed a mobile usage surge and increased Internet penetration, thereby driving inclusivity and overcoming economic barriers. In 2017, close to 20 million users were recorded as daily fantasy sports users in India and this is poised to rise by 30-50% per annum,” he added.
Every user can form a team of six players across the teams within a fixed budget and earn points based on the players' real-world performance.
Users will have the option of playing for free or pools of Rs 10, Rs 50, Rs 500 and Rs 1000 and even more. The game is available on all platforms - PC, tablet and mobile.
The founders said that although their platform was ready, the legalities needed to be cleared. It was only after subsequent court rulings - including that of the Supreme Court and Punjab and Haryana High Court stating that fantasy gaming is “skill based and not gambling” - that they ventured into the market.
In order to popularise the platform, the company will be giving out cash prizes of up to Rs 10 lakh and other goodies on each day of the IPL.
Although StarPick is starting with cricket in India, it will gradually diversify and venture into other popular and not-so-talked-about sports in the country, including athletics.
The company has raised an undisclosed sum of capital from foreign institutional investors mostly based out of Europe and also some Indian angel investors.
StarPick claims that the company is very serious about data privacy. “Our technology is based out of Sweden and we follow the most stringent standards, which are superior to Indian data privacy laws,” Rohith Nair, another co-founder said.