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2020 In Review: Indian Cricket’s Stars That Turned Startup Investors

2020 In Review: Indian Cricket’s Stars That Turned Startup Investors

The likes of Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and others backed young entrepreneurs and hot businesses in 2020

From healthtech to ‘dukaantech’, crickets invested in startups across sectors and at various stages

Startups such as Digit Insurance, Khatabook, Sarva Yoga attracted investments from celebrity cricketers

2020 has been a year of unexpected events, and like many athletes, even India’s elite cricketers had to take a break from normal service and look at other ways to keep themselves engaged and stay in touch with the fanbase. And like last year, this year Indian cricketers widened their interests in technology and business by investing in up-and-coming startups as well as VC-backed growth-stage ventures.

The likes of Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and others backed entrepreneurs and hot businesses in 2020. From healthtech to ‘dukaantech’, cricketers invested in startups across sectors and at various stages. Startups such as Digit Insurance, Khatabook, Sarva Yoga attracted investments from celebrity cricketers. 

In terms of new businesses launched, India coach and commentator Ravi Shastri launched male grooming and hygiene products private label 23 Yards in partnership with Mumbai-based Ador Multiproducts Limited. The company plans to create grooming products and hand sanitiser for a target group of 25 to 40 years.

Beyond this, the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) was also dominated by startups as sponsors and for brand associations, so the startup ecosystem had a bigger connection to the world of cricket this year. Let’s take a look at the cricket stars that backed startups this year. 

Cricketers That Invested In Startups in 2020

Ajinkya Rahane

Indian cricket Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has invested an undisclosed amount in Pune-based agritech startup MeraKisan. Rahane has also signed on as the brand ambassador of the startup. The Mahindra-group backed startup was founded in 2016 and it works closely with organic farmers by helping them with certification, technical support and organic and nutritious foods.

Besides this, Rahane also signed on as the global ambassador for ELSA Corp’s edtech product.

Gautam Gambhir

Cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir also stepped into the field of investments. Gambhir has invested an undisclosed amount in an healthtech startup FYI Health, which is developing solutions for offices as they reopen post the pandemic. The startup which works on educating employees at workplaces primarily focuses on conducting daily health checkups in offices.

Harsha Bhogle

While not a cricketer, Harsha Bhogle is as popular as most cricketers in India and he continued his investment streak with a fantasy sports platform called Fantasy Akhada. He has also become the face of the brand for two years.

Fantasy Akhada was founded by Amit Purohit in 2020 and it offers various gameplay options for customers and has claimed to be successful in bringing over 1 lakh customers on its platform since its inception.

Apart from this, Bhogle had invested in a Gurugram-based finance marketplace Chqbook which connects borrowers and lenders. 

Kapil Dev

Another cricket personality who has multiple investments, former India captain and World Cup winner Kapil Dev invested an undisclosed amount in a deeptech startup called Harmonizer India.

Founded in 2019, Harmonizer India’s products and solutions are geared towards enterprise power and energy management needs with AI and ML-based solutions. 

Besides Harmonizer, Dev has been an investor in startups such as online supermarket PeopleEasy, fintech company Samco Ventures, EV startup VAOO and legal tech startup WizCounsel.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Popularly known as ‘Captain Cool’, former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has donned the hat of investor by infusing capital in multiple startups.

Dhoni invested an undisclosed amount in Bengaluru-based business ledger app Khatabook. Besides investing in that startup, he has also become its brand ambassador.

Khatabook was launched in 2018 and the company has raised $87 Mn from investors such as Sequoia Capital’s Surge, partners of DST Global, Falcon Edge Capital, Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group, Tencent Holdings, Better Capital as well as angel investors such as Cred founder Kunal Shah, Snapdeal cofounder Rohit Bansal. 

Last year, Dhoni invested an undisclosed amount in Gurugram-based auto marketplace Cars24, which turned unicorn this year.

Rudra Pratap Singh

Former India fast bowler RP Singh has invested an undisclosed amount in a sports technology startup known as SportsUno. He has been appointed as one of its board members. SportsUno provides technological support to sports companies and it primarily focuses on five sports — cricket, football, badminton, table tennis and basketball.

Shikhar Dhawan

The India opener joined a list of big-name celebrities by backing yoga-focussed health and wellness startup Sarva.

The yoga studio chain was founded in 2016 by Sarvesh Shashi and has raised funding from entrepreneurs David Giampaolo and Mark Mastrov, as well as celebrities such as Hollywood actress Jennifer Lopez and American baseball star Alex Rodriguez, Bollywood actors Malaika Arora, Aishwaryaa R Dhanush, Shahid Kapoor and Mira Kapoor.

Sourav Ganguly

Former India captain and Board For Control Of Cricket In India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly invested an undisclosed amount in an edtech startup ClassPlus. He has also been appointed as its brand ambassador.

Founded in 2018 by Mukul Rustagi and Bhaswat Agarwal, the Delhi NCR- based startup provides mobile-first software for coaching institutes, tuition centres and private tutors to set up their classes online.

Previously, Ganguly had invested an undisclosed amount in the Mumbai-based, curated video platform Flickstree.

Virat Kohli

Indian cricket team captain has shown great passion for investing in startups, just like leading the team on the field.

This year, Kohli invested INR 2 Cr in a Bengaluru-based insurance tech startup called Digit Insurance. Digit Insurance was founded in 2016 by Kamesh Goyal and Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Holdings. Basically, the company offers customised insurance policies at lower costs on health, auto, travel, smartphones, commercial properties such as stores and holiday homes.

Apart from this investment, Kohli has also invested INR 19.3 Cr in Sachin Tendulkar backed fashion startup Universal Sportsbiz Pvt Ltd (USPL). Previously, the captain has invested in the London-based social media startup Sport Convo.

Yuvraj Singh

Cricketer Yuvraj Singh, known for his many match-winning innings, is also a serial investor. This year, Yuvraj invested an undisclosed amount in a nutrition-based healthcare startup called Wellversed. 

Wellversed was founded by Aanan Khurma, Aditya Seth, Ripunjay Chachan in 2018 and it provides more than 12,000 health transformation plans for weight loss, skin health, hair care and sexual health.

Earlier, the cricketer had launched YouWeCan Ventures in 2015 and also invested in several other startups like Healthians, EazyDiner, Cartisan, Buddy, JetSetGo and salon chain Naturals.

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