Sporting business: An open field for entrepreneurs

Written by Sandeep Singh | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 30 2013, 14:02pm hrs
Sports businessSports is a growing industry in India.
After a successful career in the corporate world spanning over 19 years, Adnan Adeeb along with his wife Zeba followed their instinct and diverted their energies into an area which they had no expertise. All they knew was that the business was doing well in the developed world.

They set up a company called Volano Entertainment with the help of funding from an angel investor two years ago. The company offers sporting facilities to working professionals who have lost touch with sports.

For most people, sports (managment) business means managing celebrities or creating leagues such as IPL but we are working towards bringing working individuals back to sports where they can burn calories, have fun and make friends, said Adeeb. Volano Entertainment is a platform where individuals can join a weekend sport or play in a league, train themselves for marathon or even join obstacle racing.

Only in his second year Adeebs firm has generated a topline of Rs 2 crore, and in the third year he expects to break even with a topline of Rs 5 crore and he is quite happy about what he is doing.

The growth of economy has a direct bearing on the development of sports in a country and India is no exception to this. As the economy started to witness higher growth rates, rise in per capita income and improvement in infrastructure, there has been a visible rise in Indias medal tally at the Olympics, Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games and at other major events.

On expected lines, the business of sports is also on a rise and so is the entrepreneurship within the same.

While some are utilising their knowledge, expertise and contacts to start their business in the field of sports, there are some like Adeeb who are adopting a different approach and are trying to rope in the community and still their are others building a business model around successful leagues in the field of advertising and event management.

Dinesh Chopra, a former journalist, who quit his job at ESPN StarSports in 2012 and started working as a manager for cricketer Gautam Gambhir with whom he had developed a friendship, says that sports in India is a young market and there is a lot of scope for building career in sports management or business around sports.

He feels that lot of sports persons are coming up from various fields such as boxing, shooting, wrestling, archery and companies are looking to sign them up to promote their brand or get associated with their company.

People are now looking beyond cricket too and big sporting events happening in the country are also helping in the development in this area. India is set to host U-17 FIFA world cup, it hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and also hosted the recently concluded Junior Hockey World Cup and these events will only build more scope in the area of sports, said Chopra.

Jwala Singh, a national-level cricket player whose professional career came to an abrupt end in early 2000, due to injuries, has developed a business model around cricket seeking support from his friends in the cricketing world. While he runs an academy that trains children, he also runs a cricket league called Mumbai Amateur Premier League on IPL format.

Singh also organises cricket tours to places like Nepal, Sri Lanka and South Africa for kids thereby providing them with foreign experience and get them to train and play with international stars. Singh is also going to extend these trips to New Zealand and Australia from next year.

Now we are trying to more towards business and preparing a programme School Cricket Development Program where we will tie up with international schools in cities that are interested in our international trip programme. We will manage this cricket related international trip for schools where one week will be for coaching with international players and they also get to see the country and people, said Singh.

Sports is a growing industry and with the advent of Indian Premier League, Indian Badminton League, Hockey League, etc and sports such as badminton, wrestling, shooting, archery gaining recognition and prominence, the coming years only promise more business potential and more entrepreneurship in the field.

However, those working in the field of sports say that individuals should not enter this field just for the bottomline and the industry needs credible people with good intent and good understanding.

Internationally we have seen that when a successful player goes through a tough time their managers double up as soul-mates and therefore this industry needs such relationship. The credibility factor is paramount as at times managers are looked up with suspicion, said Chopra.