One hour agoWriters: Kushan Agarwal
You must have seen the ad on TV. In which Mahendra Singh Dhoni says that ‘Oh wow if you want to put your mind, don’t put it on Dream 11’, or Hardik Pandya’s add- ‘If the dream is big, then no one is alone, Dream Big Dream 11.’
Dream 11 is not a new thing for those interested in cricket. Country’s first cricket fantasy company, first gaming unicorn. Today it is at the top of the fantasy companies around the world.
With us today at ‘Unicorn Dreams with Kushan Agarwal’ is Harsh Jain, CEO of Dream11. Talk about the beginning of Dream 11, the journey and reaching the pinnacle of success. So let’s start…
Kushan: Tell us about your childhood. In what environment were you brought up, how were you in studies and sports?
Harsh Jain: Raised up in Mumbai. He studied here till 10th standard. Then went to UK for 11-12th. After this, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. As far as sports is concerned, there was a lot of interest in it since childhood. Played football and cricket with friends.
Kushan: You studied at the University of Pennsylvania, were a huge football fan, then how did the idea of fantasy cricket come about?
Harsh Jain: I loved all sports since childhood. When I was doing engineering in America, there was a lot of football. He used to play fantasy football there. When IPL started in India, the idea came to my mind that why not start something in cricket as well. That’s where the concept of Dream 11 started working.
Kushan: How did Dream 11 start? What was your role in the beginning, and how did you decide on it?
Harsh Jain: Bhavit is my childhood friend. The idea of fantasy cricket came to my mind in 2008. I later told this to my friends. Of those people, only Bhavit agreed to work with me. After this we both started Dream 11 together.
As far as the roles of both are concerned, the prospective company has a Chief Operating Officer, ie COO. They handle the operations. At the same time, I look after the work of Tech, Product, Design and Marketing.
Kushan: Did the idea take off as soon as it started, or did some problems arise? How did you keep the company moving during difficult times?
Harsh Jain: Many troubles have come and they still come. The journey of an entrepreneur is full of troubles. Nothing is easily achieved. Different challenges have to be faced every day. To be honest, it is fun to move forward fighting these troubles.
Initially, the biggest challenge before us was to create a product that people would like. We completed this work, funding problems started. After that we had to face the challenge of growth and marketing.
Now our team has increased from 2 people to 1 thousand. Managing such a big team, motivating them continuously and maintaining efficiency is also a challenge in itself.
Kushan: What did you initially take for funding?
Harsh Jain: In the beginning, our family supported a lot and with their money, we carried forward our work. From 2008 to 2015, that is, for seven years, the family invested money in Dream 11. After this we thought of funding from outside, because we also had to prove that it is not only our money that is invested in it, outside investors also trust our company. After that we started raising funds from venture capitalists.
Kushan: What was the year or time when you felt that now Dream 11 is on its way to success?
Harsh Jain: I believe that the hunger for success should always be there. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said that Amazon’s Day Zero is still running. When Day One comes, the company will die. Therefore, there should always be an entrepreneurial instinct in life.
However, when our Investment Series A came to an end, we realized that investors believed in Dream 11. After this, when we got the unicorn tag in Series D, it seemed that our company has become stable now and we have achieved our dream.
Kushan: Explain the model of Dream 11 to our readers. How does this work? Is it really a game of skill or a game by chance?
Harsh Jain: Our product gives you a chance to become a better selector. Each team has a selector committee, which selects some 30-40 players. It takes a lot of skill.
For example, on which pitch according to the weather, who should be bowling or banting. Which player should be given a chance against which aponent? In that sense it is a game of skill. Our national selectors have some skill, only then they get the job of building a team.
Not only that, we have also run a lot of tests which prove mathematically that this is the game of skill. More importantly, our case has been proved by the Supreme Court 3 times and the High Court 5 times that it is not a game of gambling or betting. This is a regular business activity, which is protected by the Constitution of India. There are millions of videos on YouTube that analyze players like stocks.
Kushan: What is the business model of Dream 11? How does the company earn?
Harsh Jain: We provide a platform to the users. Where you can play with friends or other people. Money will also remain among you people. It has complete transparency. We only charge 10-15% platform fee. Here is the source of our revenue. We do not provide any add on our app.
Kushan: Seeing the ad for Dream 11, it seems that you have contracted with all the players. What is the special idea behind getting ads from multiple players?
Harsh Jain: This game is for sports lovers. So, if a celebrity has to be retained, we need a celebrity that the fans like. There will be some people who are fans of Hardik Pandya. Some people like Rohit Sharma, or Rishabh Pant or Jasprit Bumrah. Therefore, by getting ads from different players, all the fans are able to relate their favorite player.
Kushan: What are the challenges of the fantasy cricket business? You were in this sector earlier, but now there are many platforms. How are you dealing with this?
Harsh Jain: When we started fantasy cricket 15 years ago, we were alone. We did not have any competitor for 7 years. Now there are 300 companies in this sector. Every company is educating the sports fans why this sector is good, why it is fun. The whole industry is growing because of this.
There is a saying in English- ‘Rising tide lifts all boats.’ Similarly, when the competition increases, the entire industry will grow and we will all benefit.
Kushan: What life lessons and business lessons would you like to give to young entrepreneurs?
Harsh Jain: Life lesson is never give up. Never give up on your dreams. Keep going, and keep working with a ‘Never Give Up’ attitude.
The business lesson is that business does not run by itself. There are people running it. Therefore it is very important to motivate, guide these people. Only with a better work culture will more people join you and you will be able to perform well.
Kushan: How is Harsh Jain in personal life? What do you do in free time?
Harsh Jain: I love to play cricket. Along with this, he is also fond of football. Have a great love for animals. I also have pet dogs. I try to maintain a good balance between work and family. Have two sons, love to spend time with them. One more thing, I don’t like to go out. I also prefer to meet friends at my home.