Only 19 startups are participating in IPL 2023 as against 29 startups last year
While Dream11 and FanCode have partnered six teams each, startups like boAt, ACKO, and The Souled Store have also associated themselves with multiple IPL teams
Unacademy, Swiggy Instamart, Open, Jar, Cars24, and BookMyShow are among the prominent startups missing from IPL 2023
The summer is here and so is the latest edition of one of the most valuable sports tournaments in the world, the Indian Premier League (IPL). Beginning today, 10 teams will battle it out for nearly two months to get their hands on the coveted trophy for the 16th edition of the IPL.
However, the world has changed drastically since IPL 2022, which saw Gujarat Titans emerge victorious on their debut.
In April 2008, when the IPL was taking baby steps, the world was in the middle of a global economic crisis which would later turn into what is called the ‘Great Recession’. Fifteen years later, the world is staring at another recession ahead of the start of the IPL, with the crisis at Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, Silvergate Bank and Credit Suisse further accentuating these fears.
As such, this year’s IPL has seen significantly lower interest from Indian startups in terms of sponsorship deals. Only 19 startups are participating in the cricket jamboree this year as against 29 startups last year. While the likes of Paytm, CRED, Dream11, boAt, ACKO and Ather Energy are making a repeat appearance, there are also some new startups in the IPL this season.
Amid the ongoing funding winter and cost-cutting exercises across startups, here are some of the key trends when it comes to startups trying to ride on the popularity of the tournament in the cricket-crazy country to get noticed.
It is hard to miss the impact of the downturn in the Indian startup ecosystem on IPL 2023. There is nearly a 35% year-on-year (YoY) decline in the number of startups participating in IPL 2023 as partners or sponsors.
However, the startups seem to have rejigged their bets this year when it comes to forging their association with IPL teams. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Mumbai Indians (MI) are the new startup champions at IPL 2023, having partnered with six startups.
Surprisingly, Rajasthan Royals has not partnered with any startup this year. Last year, it partnered five startups and had Happilo, a D2C brand, as its title sponsor. However, this year, Happilo will be seen cheering for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The decline in the number of startups associated with the marquee cricket tournament this year is a reflection of the shifting priorities at a time when ‘cost cutting’ and ‘business restructuring’ are the buzzwords amid the harsh funding winter.
Dream11, Bira91 Splurge Big
Despite the woes of the Indian startup ecosystem, at least seven startups have partnered with two teams or more this IPL season. Dream11 and FanCode are the top startups this year, backing six teams each. Bira91 is sponsoring five teams in IPL 2023.
Meanwhile, boAt, ACKO, and The Souled Store have also partnered with multiple IPL teams, but each of them has significantly reduced their participation compared to the last season.
While The Souled Store partnered with five IPL teams last year, the D2C clothing startup is going with only two teams this season. Similarly, ACKO has partnered only three teams as against six teams last year and Dream11 has gone from seven to six teams. boAt is also associated with only three teams this season as against four teams last year.
Interestingly, FanCode and FanCraze, both new entrants, have taken the leaderboard by storm. Both startups picked massive funding last year, with FanCode (owned by Dream11) raising $50 Mn and FanCraze raising $100 Mn last year.
Fintech Leads The Charts Again
Like last year’s IPL, fintech startups are leading the IPL sponsorship this year as well with six startups. It is followed closely by five ecommerce and four media & entertainment startups.
Bira 91, Ather Energy, and Garuda Aerospace will be seen representing the alcoholic beverages, transport tech and deeptech sectors, respectively, this year.
However, sectoral participation has declined to six sectors from 12 last year. Troubled by funding woes, sectors like proptech, edtech and healthtech are giving this IPL season a miss. Unacademy, Swiggy Instamart, Open, Jar, Cars24, and BookMyShow are among the prominent startups missing from IPL 2023.
Growth Stage Startups Top The Charts
In terms of startup segments, the growth stage has the highest representation at this year’s IPL with nine startups. Meanwhile, eight late-stage startups are part of the T20 tournament this year. Together, startups at growth and late stage account for nearly 90% of the startups marking their presence at IPL 2023.
Paytm is the only listed startup at the IPL this year, while MyFab11, a principal partner of KKR, is the only early-stage startup at IPL 2023. This trend is a reflection of the fact that growth and late-stage startups are more comfortable spending on promotional activities.
With major news pointers largely covered, it’s time to meet the 19 startups that have announced their participation in Tata IPL 2023 so far.
(Note: The list is not a ranking, startups have been arranged in alphabetical order.)
Startups Sponsoring IPL Teams In 2023
Founded by Varun Dua and Ruchi Deepak in 2016, the Mumbai-based insurtech unicorn provides auto, health and electronics insurance products.
At IPL 2023, ACKO is taking the field with three teams – as an associate sponsor of Gujarat Titans and Kolkata Knight Riders, and an official sponsor of Mumbai Indians. ACKO partnered six teams in 2022, including the three teams it continues to sponsor in 2023.
It entered the unicorn club in 2021 after raising $255 Mn in Series D round at a valuation of $1.1 Bn. It has raised a total funding of $409 Mn to date.
In FY22, the insurtech unicorn posted a loss of INR 382.3 Cr, while its operating revenue stood at INR 1087.50 Cr.
Founded in 2013 by Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain, Ather Energy designs, manufactures and produces electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. It is one of the top-selling EV two-wheeler manufacturers in India, with nearly 10,000 EV registrations in February 2023, as per government data.
The EV startup has raised more than $371 Mn in funding across multiple rounds. Ather Energy posted a loss of INR 344.10 Cr in FY22, while its revenue stood at INR 408.50 Cr.
Ather Energy is the principal sponsor of Gujarat Titans and its name will appear on the front of the jersey of the last year’s champions.
Founded in 2015 by Ankur Jain, New Delhi-based Bira 91 manufactures draft beer and has a presence across 550 towns and cities, spanning over 18 countries. The startup claims to be the fourth-largest beer company in India.
Bira 91’s consolidated net loss rose 1.6X to INR 396.06 Cr in FY22, while revenue stood at INR 718.85 Cr. The startup spent INR 99.58 Cr on marketing in FY22, nearly seven times higher than the previous financial year.
The beer maker, which was not part of last year’s IPL, has partnered five teams in 2023. It is the official partner of Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Founded in 2016 by Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta, boAt is a D2C startup that manufactures and sells earphones, headphones, speakers, soundbars, travel chargers, data cables and more across its website, ecommerce portals and offline channels.
The D2C unicorn, which filed for an IPO last year but put the plan on hold later on, has raised $177 Mn in funding to date. boAt posted a profit of INR 68.70 Cr in FY22, while its revenue from operations was at INR 2,872.90 Cr.
The startup has teamed up with only three franchises this season – Gujarat Titans, Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. In comparison, it partnered six teams in 2021 and four teams in 2022.
Founded in 2018 by Kunal Shah, CRED offers credit card users rewards for paying credit card bills on its platform. The fintech unicorn has 11.2 Mn users and posted a loss of INR 1,279 Cr in FY22. Operating revenue stood at INR 393.50 Cr.
The fintech startup entered the coveted unicorn club in April 2021 after raising $215 Mn in a Series D round at a post-money valuation of $2.2 Bn. In all, the unicorn has raised nearly $907 Mn across multiple funding rounds.
The fintech unicorn is the sponsor for IPL 2023, however, it has not revealed any details about the sponsorship.
Founded by Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain in 2008, Dream Sports, which operates Dream11, allows users to participate in various fantasy competitions for cricket, football, kabaddi and basketball.
The startup, which joined the unicorn club in 2019, has raised more than $1.5 Bn since its inception. Since then, Dream11’s valuation has skyrocketed to $8 Bn. In FY22, the gaming unicorn posted a profit of INR 141.97 Cr, while revenue from operations stood at INR 2,554.30 Cr.
Dream11 is the official sponsor of Tata IPL 2023. The gaming unicorn has also partnered with six teams this year – Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Titans, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders.
EatSure (Rebel Foods)
EatSure is a food delivery app and one of the many subsidiaries of Rebel Foods, founded in 2011 by Jaydeep Barman and Kallol Banerjee. EatSure exclusively delivers food from Rebel Foods brands such as Faasos, Behrouz Biryani, Sweet Truth, Overstory Pizza and Firangi Bake.
Rebel Foods has raised a total funding of $305.5 Mn to date. It became a unicorn in 2021 after raising $175 Mn. The foodtech startup posted an operating revenue of INR 858.6 Cr in FY22 but still recorded a loss of INR 564.4 Cr.
Rebel Foods, or EatSure to be precise, is the official partner of Royal Challengers Bangalore for the latest season of the IPL.
Founded by Robin Raina, EbixCash helps consumers and businesses in international remittance based on GTV and foreign exchange, digital payments, domestic money remittances, prepaid cards and various other factors.
The fintech uses a phygital strategy and claims to combine over 650K physical agent distribution outlets throughout India and Southeast Asia into an omnichannel platform. It filed its DRHP with SEBI for an IPO worth INR 6,000 Cr last year. However, there has been no update on the matter since. Last month, it activated UPI payments for users travelling from G20 countries.
EbixCash will again feature on the front of the jerseys of Punjab Kings as the team’s title sponsor this year, having done so in IPL 2022 as well. Besides, the startup will also feature on the jersey of Sunrisers Hyderabad as a principal sponsor.
Founded in 2019 by Yannick Colaco and Prasana Krishnan, FanCode offers interactive live streaming of sports matches with customisable data overlays, ad-free live scores and sports-related content through ‘Match Pass & Tour Pass’, along with fantasy sports statistics, expert fantasy tips, game analysis and access to engage with other sports fans. It is a subsidiary of Dream Sports, the parent company of Dream11.
FanCode is one of the biggest sponsors at IPL 2023, with the platform being the official sponsor for Delhi Capitals and merchandise partner for Gujarat Titans, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
This takes Dream Sports’ total sponsorship deals in IPL 2023 to 12, with its two subsidiaries partnering with six teams each. Only Lucknow Super Giants and Rajasthan Royals don’t have a partnership with a Dream Sports subsidiary at this year’s IPL.
Founded in 2021 by Anshum Bhambri, Sundar Raman and Kushagra Kohli, FanCraze (also known as Faze) is an NFT-focused startup which creates collectibles on some of cricket’s most important moments.
The startup rose to prominence last year when it raised $100 Mn in its Series A round. It counts marquee names like Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital India and Insight Partners among its backers. In all, FanCraze has raised $117 Mn across two funding rounds since 2021.
At IPL 2023, which is the startup’s first-ever IPL, FanCraze is the official partner for Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals. It is also the associate partner for Lucknow Super Giants and the title sponsor for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Set up in 2015 by Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Garuda manufactures and sells drones and also provides drone-as-a-service (DaaS) solutions for various sectors including agriculture, defence, mining, mapping, and warehouse management. It claims to manufacture 30 types of drones and offers 50 types of DaaS solutions.
Last month, Garuda secured $17 Mn in funding from SphitiCap, taking its Series A round to $22 Mn. The startup is also backed by former Indian cricketer and captain of Chennai Super Kings, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Coincidentally, Garuda is the official partner for Chennai Super Kings in 2023.
Founded in 2016 by Vikas Nahar, Happilo is a D2C healthy snacking brand. It offers snacking options such as dry fruits, trail mixes, nut protein bars, and muesli.
Happilo posted an operating revenue of INR 190.09 Cr in FY22. However, it slipped into the red during the year, posting a loss of INR 11.66 Cr. Happilo last raised $25 Mn in February 2022.
The startup has partnered Royal Challengers Bangalore as a principal sponsor for IPL 2023.
My11Circle is a fantasy cricket platform of gaming unicorn Games24x7, which was founded by Bhavin Pandya and Trivikraman Thampy in 2006. The unicorn houses popular brands such as RummyCircle and casual games hub U Games.
The Mumbai-based startup’s revenue from operations declined 25.2% YoY to INR 1,156.4 Cr in FY22. It posted a loss of INR 230 Cr during the year.
At IPL 2023, it has joined hands with Lucknow Super Giants as an associate partner through My11Circle.
MyFab11 is a Kolkata-based fantasy cricket platform, founded in 2018 by Anikendra Das Choudhury and Swati Chamoli. While the startup has not raised any venture capital funding so far, it claims to have more than 4 Mn users on its platform.
A new entrant in IPL, MyFab11 has partnered with the local team, Kolkata Knight Riders, as its principal sponsor.
Founded in 2010 by Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm returns to IPL 2023 as the official umpire partner. It has also partnered with several teams as the exclusive ticketing partner.
Paytm, which went public in November 2021, has seen a sharp decline in its shares amid market volatility over the past year. Against its IPO offer price of INR 2,150, shares of Paytm closed at INR 634.10 on Friday (March 31).
Recently, the fintech giant upgraded its payments platform to a homegrown tech stack that it claims will handle 10 times the current scale. Paytm reported a net loss of INR 392 Cr in Q3 FY23, while its revenue from operations stood at INR 2,062 Cr.
Founded in 2020 by Ravi Kallayil, Sara Kilgore and Pavan Kareti, Plaeto designs and sells footwear for children. Plaeto also has a B2B2C front which it uses to collaborate with schools and educational institutes for uniform shoes.
According to Tofler data, Plaeto posted an operating revenue of INR 1.56 Cr in FY22 and a net loss of INR 4.16 Cr.
The startup raised $5 Mn in funding last year to expand its operations. At IPL 2023, its first-ever IPL, Plaeto has partnered with Mumbai Indians as a merchandise partner.
slice (formerly Slicepay) was founded in 2016 by Rajan Bajaj. The fintech startup operated as a buy now pay later (BNPL) platform, offering a credit card-like prepaid payment instrument (PPI) with no annual charges, no interest, and no late fees. However, it had to change its business model following the RBI’s decision to bar NBFCs from offering credit on PPI in 2022.
slice’s loss ballooned to INR 253.7 Cr in FY22 as advertising expenses surged 34X YoY. Operating revenue stood at INR 283.1 Cr during the year.
slice returns to the front of Mumbai Indians’ jersey as the principal sponsor in IPL 2023.
The Souled Store
Founded in 2013 by Aditya Sharma, Rohin Samtaney, Vedang Patel, and Harsh Lal, The Souled Store is a D2C casual wear brand that started as a branded merchandise apparel brand. The D2C startup recently picked up INR 135 Cr in funding.
The Souled Store reported a net loss of INR 26.72 Cr in FY22. Revenue from operations was INR 145.10 Cr.
While the brand was the merchandise partner of five teams last year, it has partnered only two teams this season – Kolkata Knight Riders and Lucknow Super Giants.
Upstox’s parent company RKSV Securities was founded by Shrini Viswanath, Raghu Kumar and Ravi Kumar in 2008. It started as a proprietary trading firm but ventured into retail brokerage with the launch of Upstox in 2012. The startup offers online stock market investment services, advisory services, mutual fund investments, and more.
In FY22, the parent company of Upstox reported a net loss of INR 71.68 Cr, while operating revenue stood at INR 385.64 Cr, according to Tofler.
Like last year, Upstox is the official partner for IPL 2023 as well.
Funding Winter Weighs Heavy On Startups
According to Inc42 data, startup funding during the first quarter of 2023 remained at $2.86 Bn. Compared to $11.76 Bn raised by Indian startups in Q1 2022, startup funding is down 76%.
The rapid decline in funding has seen startups optimise for survival, and cutting down marketing costs is among the top priorities for them.
This has prompted big names such as Swiggy Instamart, Unacademy, Open, Jar, Cars24, BookMyShow, ShareChat, Fino Payments Bank, Bombay Shaving Company and WinZO to pull out of IPL in 2023.
Even so, this year’s IPL has been nothing short of lucrative for the BCCI, which sold TV broadcasting rights for the tournament from 2023 to 2027 for an eyewatering INR 23,575 Cr. Digital broadcasting rights raked in another INR 23,758 Cr.
According to an Inc42 analysis, last year’s auction made IPL the second-richest sports league in the world . It is understandable why Indian tech startups want the incredible visibility that comes with the IPL. However, the decline in participation in 2023 shows how the priorities have shifted.