India has been a country of startups. The economy is in the developing phase and hence a lot of small businesses reside in the Indian market. It just takes an idea and some capital to start a business but that doesn't determine its success. The human brain encounters many ideas and startups are also a part of those ideas but not every thought proves to be fruitful. What decides the fruitfulness? It's the result that matters, not the beginning. People won't even consider learning about your beginning until you have achieved some success.
Sports are very valuable to us, the humans. A large portion of the Indian population show interest in sports and everyone has had fantasies about playing any sports at the bigger stage, at least once in their lifetime. It is said that cricket is a religion in India, and that's evident when we see the reactions of people. We hear people suggesting field changes, bowler changes, shot selection, and other such changes that could have not cost the match if they had been followed, according to the viewers. People love to be involved in an ongoing sports event and it was the whole idea for a small startup by two Indians - Dream11.
The name may sound familiar now as they are the title sponsors of the biggest cricketing event across the world, the Indian Premier League. Read to know in detail about the journey of Dream11 from a startup that was tagged as illegal once to the title sponsors of IPL.
Dream11 is a fantasy sports platform based in India. It allows its users to play fantasy cricket, football, hockey, kabaddi, volleyball, handball, baseball, and basketball. Dream11 is a Mumbai based firm that started in 2008. It has 8crore registered users till date. In April 2019, Dream11 became the first Indian gaming company to enter the Unicorn Club. For those who don’t know, a unicorn is a term in the business world to indicate a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion.
Dream11 has bagged the title sponsorship of the 2020 Indian Premier League. Dream11 ranked seven among India’s Mid-Sized Workplaces for the year 2020. They have been put in the top 10 Mid-Sized workplaces for the third consecutive year. There were once questions on the legality of the contests. In 2017, Dream11 was dragged in the Punjab and Haryana high court. However, the court ruled the judgments in the company’s favor stating that playing the Dream11 game involves superior knowledge, judgment, and attention.
Number of Dream11 users
Dream11 claims to give Fairplay experience to its users. The users have to be at least 18 years of age and are required to verify their PAN details to register themselves. The users create a virtual team from real players participating in that particular game. They are given 100 Credits to buy players who are assigned a particular credit amount.
After the teams are formed, users can join either a cash contest or a free contest with that particular team. The team is rewarded with points based on the fantasy points system, and the team with the highest points at the end of the match attains the first position on the leaderboard. The user who had created the team is awarded with real cash.
How it all started?
Dream11 was co-founded by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth in the year 2008. It was initially started as a personal project as Jain and Sheth were both big fans of English football fantasy leagues. They thought of doing something similar for IPL, which too was started the same year. Twelve years after, their firm is the title sponsors of the same league.
Talking to a reporter from The Free Press Journal, Harsh had said, “I would look at the way fantasy leagues would play out in the United States while I was doing my MBA. There were fantasy baseball leagues, fantasy basketball leagues, and fantasy football leagues (NFL). Even Europe would have fantasy football leagues for the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga. India is a cricket-crazy country, and we didn’t have the concept of a fantasy league through which you could make money. That’s how Dream11 was born in 2008.”
Initially, Dream11 ran as an ad-based model with a season-long format, which could not find takers then. So, they decided to stop this model in 2012 and shifted their focus to daily matches and allowed users to put money on the teams. It worked for them and their journey to become the biggest fantasy sports platform started. In 2014, Dream11 found its first investor in form of Kalaari Capital and they never looked back from there. From 3 lakh users in the first three years, in 2015 to 1.67 crore users in the next three years, the number of users kept on increasing. Now, after 12 years of the beginning Dream11 boasts of 8 crore users associated with them.
"If you don't really have a dream, you can't really push yourself; you don't really know what the target is."
-MS Dhoni, Brand Ambassador Dream11 and Former Indian Cricketer
Dream11 investors and partners
The 4 investors and 2 big partners of Dream11
The growth of Dream11 attracted investors from all around the globe. Apart from Kalaari Capital, Dream11 now has Steadview, Tencent, Multiples Equity, and Think Investments as its investors. An article published in The Times of India mentioned some numbers related to the investments. However, Jain generally refuses to talk about the numbers as if it is against Dream11’s policies. They rarely talk about capital-related numbers.
Talking about the partners of Dream11, they range from the International Cricket Council to the T20 Mumbai League. Dream11 has acquired Official Partner rights of BCCI’s international and domestic matches since 2019. Dream11 is the Official Fantasy Partners of different sports leagues around the world.
Examples include the National Basketball Association(NBA), Indian Super League(ISL), Pro Kabbadi League, Caribbean Premier League(CPL), European Cricket League(ECL), Big Bash League(BBL) etc. Dream11 is also the FIH global supplier since 2018. It has big names as the brand ambassadors. They had first signed the cricket commentator and analyst Harsha Bhogle in 2017. In 2018, they signed Mahendra Singh Dhoni as their Brand Ambassador and launched the Dimaag se Dhoni media campaign. For 2019 IPL, they signed up seven cricketers which include Rohit Sharma, Jos Butler, Kagiso Rabada, AB Devilliers, Kane Williamson, and others.
Dream11’s association with the Indian Premier League
Dream11 was started in the same year as the first edition of IPL was launched, in 2008. Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth started Dream11 with IPL in their mind. Who would have thought then that they will be named as the title sponsors of the biggest cricket league of the globe? It happened, on 18 August 2020, after 12 years of consistent efforts. In 2020, when Vivo pulled out their name from the title sponsor. Dream11 won the bid for 222 crores and will be the official title sponsors from September 2020 to December 2020. Dream11 is also the Official Fantasy Game partner since 2019 and will remain till 2023.
This Success is not a one night result rather it is the reflection of hard work and consistent effort put in by the Dreamsters. Dream11 kept on implementing its vision of ‘Making Sports Better’ and extended its support through the Dream11 Foundation. Dream11 Foundation pledged Rs.3 crores over 3 years to support IFSG's athlete support program, Stars of Tomorrow. This program has been created to identify and support India's future sporting talent. Another such initiative was taken with the launch of DreamX under the parent company Dream Sports. DreamX aims To revolutionize sports innovation in India, by supporting and building enterprising ideas par excellence.
The story of Dream11 sounds like a typical Bollywood movie story. However, this time it is real and the two young minds have made it possible. From starting as a fantasy gaming platform to being named as the title sponsors of IPL, Dreqam11 has come a long way in these 12 years. It doesn’t seem to stop now and aims bigger.
They have the vision of ‘Making Sports Better’ and are working to make that stand true. Dream11 has given people a chance to make full use of their knowledge about different sports. Now, the viewers not only watch it for fun but rather to gain some knowledge and use it to win some real cash on Dream11.