The Indian Cricket Team could not compete in the finals of the T20 World Cup, but their performance in the tournament marked a spot in the hearts of Cricket lovers. The world has now set its eye on the Indian Premiere League that commenced from 9th April.
India’s star player Virat Kohli was named the player of the tournament in the T20 World Cup. It’s not just the cricket playground where he has marked his presence. He is not only the brand ambassador of brands like Adidas, MRF, Pepsi, Audi, Vicks, Boost, Tissot among others.
He has also invested in startups. In May last year, Virat Kohli invested in a chain of gyms and fitness centres called Chisel in association with Franchise India. The firm expressed a desire to launch a total of 100 centres by 2018. Virat’s investment in the chain was pegged at over INR 90 Cr and he owns a 30% stake in the fitness startup. In 2014, Virat launched his fashion brand Wrogn. The collection at the platform is curated by Virat Kohli and founded by Universal Sportsbiz (USPL). He has also invested in London based social media startup Sport Convo.
He is not the only sportsperson who has invested in a startup. Over the years, various sportsmen have invested in business ventures. Here is a quick look peak into the list of sportspersons who have invested or have launched their own startups.
Last month, cricketer Robin Uthappa invested an undisclosed amount in Bangalore-based healthcare startup HealthEminds. The investment was done through Uthappa’s fund Caffeine Ventures. Prior to this, Uthappa had invested in online tiffin service venture iTiffin. However, in the last few weeks, the market is rife with news that iTiffin might be heading for shutdown.
Earlier this month, Sachin Tendulkar invested in Bangalore-based Internet of Things (IoT) company Smartron India, and also became the brand ambassador of the company. He also owns a 7.5% stake in Musafir, a UAE-based online travel company. He also holds stakes in brands like S Drive (healthcare and fitness products maker), Sach, and Universal Collectabilia( India’s first celebrity-commerce company). Talks are also on that he might invest in Oxigen Wallet.
With the launch of his investment company YouWeCan Ventures, Yuvraj Singh ventured into the startup ecosystem. YouWeCan Ventures Technology LLP was launched in 2015 to support online startups and encourage entrepreneurship. At the time of its inception, it had plans to invest over INR 50 Cr. in startups involved in healthcare, travel, hospitality, real estate and media sectors, over a period of 3-5 years. Until now, YouWeCan has invested in wellness platform Vyomo, Delhi-based online education startup Edukart, automotive service marketplace Cartisan, Bangalore-based marketplace for private jets and helicopters JetSetGo, Mumbai-based brand licensing startup Black White Orange Brands, Moovo, Healthians, Sports365, SportyBeans and Carl’s Jr chain.
Former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev launched SloPho, a social gamified collaboration platform. SloPho is a mobile app that allows its users to participate in contests, games, polls and quizzes, in return for points that can be redeemed on the platform.
He is also an angel investor and has invested in online grocery portal PeopleEasy.com, an online grocery portal.
In May 2015, he turned into a venture investor, when he picked up an undeclared stake in Mumbai-based Samco Ventures. Kapil Dev, along with Bay Capital Partners founder Siddharth Mehta and others, invested $3 Mn in SAMCO Ventures’ Series A funding. In 2005, he picked up five per cent stake in Zicom Electronics.
The Indian badminton champion Saina Nehwal has also invested and became the brand ambassador of Soothe Healthcare. Soothe Healthcare is amongst the top suppliers of sanitary pads (Paree) to central and state governments under the National Health Mission (NHM).
In 2010, Anil Kumble founded TENVIC Sports with international table tennis player Vasanth Bharadwaj. The firm aimed at providing structured coaching to help kids excel in a sport of their choice. It also provided training and mentoring to businesses and sportspersons, along with insights and ideas to help brands better leverage sport in their marketing. Its clientele include schools like Pearson and DPS. The corporate clients include IBM, Accenture, Weber Shandwick, HP, Pepsi, etc.
In August 2015, Umesh Yadav paved his way to the startup ecosystem when he invested an undisclosed amount in Kolkata-based hyperlocal fashion portal Fashionove. The startup provides a platform for local boutiques to register and transact products.
Olympic gold medalist and Indian ace shooter Abhinav Bindra has started a venture capital fund to invest in startups. He has set up an incubation fund called Shooting Star LLP with an initial investment of $2 Mn in March 2016.
The fund will invest in scalable formats with specialised domain expertise in areas such as emerging sports academies, sports injury, rehab, tech, equipment and training, health apps, child development, holistic wellness, organic foods and dairy. The focus of the fund will be services.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Captain Cool ventured into startups in 2012. He co-founded his fitness brand SportsFit. It aims to expand through franchising models with gyms to encourage fitness regimes across the country. SportFit provides customised fitness solutions, including meal-diet plan, on users instant demand. In July 2015 Olympic champion wrestler Sushil Kumar joined SportsFit.
In 2002 Mahesh Bhupathi founded entertainment & sports marketing company Globosport. It leverages opportunities across sports and entertainment for brands. Globosport provides celebrity & content solutions to its clients, from celebrity endorsers & influencers, social media activation, product placement to branded content. The firm is headquartered in Mumbai, with offices in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Munich, Paris, Rio De Janeiro, Russia and Tel Aviv.
In 2014, Bhupathi also invested in an online store Sports365. It specialises in sports goods and fitness equipment.
However, this isn’t an all inclusive list. Leave your comments to let us about other sportsmen we might have skipped from including in this article.