• Type:
  • Duration:
  • Category:
  • Average Rating:

12| From Zero to One Billion: Bhavit Sheth, Co-Founder/COO of Sports Unicorn Dream11.com

Half the City
Half the City
12| From Zero to One Billion: Bhavit Sheth, Co-Founder/COO of Sports Unicorn Dream11.com

Bhavit Sheth is a co-founder and COO of one of the world’s newest unicorns, Dream11.com. 

This India-based tech startup, valued at over a billion dollars, has cornered the Indian market on fantasy sports, beginning with cricket’s Indian Premier League and has grown to include the NBA, NFL, EPL, La Liga, NHL, and many more to become India’s biggest fantasy sports platform. We’re talking all of the plus the effect of COVID-19 on sports.

Show Notes

Follow Bhavit on LinkedIn


Theme music by: Ruel Morales

Brian Schoenborn  0:01 

Hello, Hello Hey everybody. Our guest today is calling in from the other side of the world. We’re all staying at home and joining us quarantine COVID-19 Coronavirus. He’s calling in from Bombay, India. He’s actually one of the co founders, one of the two co founders of one of the world’s newest unicorns. So tech startup valued at over a billion dollars. Based in India, he’s got a pretty cool story behind that. And we’ve got some similar roots as well. So before, before we get into it, give it up my friend Bob sharp. My name is Brian Shin born. I’m an explorer people, places and culture. In my travels spanning over 20 countries across four continents, I’ve had the pleasure of engaging and authentic conversations with amazingly interesting people. These are their stories on location and unfiltered presented by 8B Media. This is have to see.


Brian Schoenborn  1:09 

What’s up, man. How you doing? I see you holding up over there.


Bhavit Sheth  1:13 

Hey, thanks, Ben for that intro. Yeah, it’s a tough time. It’s your time but holding up well,


Brian Schoenborn  1:20 

it’s crazy, right? I mean, I just I just, you know, I feel like I remember the beginning of the year when think when I started coming from China, I just you know, okay, who knows what it’s gonna be, but we knew it was gonna start spreading. But it feels like like it didn’t really hit at least in America until about a month ago. Like that’s when it really started taking off. And it went from like, life as usual to like every day as an eternity. Like a bit of lockdown for like a year. How’s it going over there, man? What’s going on in India with it?


Bhavit Sheth  1:54 

Yes, it is if it has affected a lot, but I was actually supposed to be in China. In January, I’ll ruin Yeah. All all bookings on everything. And then, you know, my brother being a doctor obviously had some early information on the entire Coronavirus situation and something that was developing in China. So he told me that it’s best not to go there. It’s best to avoid going to China.


Brian Schoenborn  2:22 

So you’re in Florida before they shut the country down then.


Bhavit Sheth  2:25 

Yes. And, and the best part about it is the person they’re supposed to meet in China. You know, I told him that Listen, you know, there’s this situation which is developing and it’s best avoid doing this meeting now. And the person was like, yeah, by that logic, I should never be coming to India.


Brian Schoenborn  2:46 

You just don’t know.


Bhavit Sheth  2:50 

But obviously, he didn’t. Well, obviously at that time, he didn’t know that it’s this bad. Boy, there’s a there’s a point 01 percent chance that something may happen right. But they came into 100% chance very soon.


Brian Schoenborn  3:02 

Well, I mean, that’s you know, it’s debatable, right. I mean, I don’t want to get into the politics. I’m excited want China to get mad at me because I love that country. But uh, I can tell you those numbers are probably debatable at best. They have a tendency of capping things off at a certain level, but Yeah, dude, it’s crazy that you caught that you were able to change that before, man like you. I mean, you could have you could have been a high risk man. Yes, like that’s crazy dude.


Bhavit Sheth  3:30 

So I could have been the person who started the Coronavirus spread in India. You could have been


Brian Schoenborn  3:37 

patient number, you can be patient.


Bhavit Sheth  3:42 

That’s great. But that didn’t happen. Luckily, you know, my brother told me say this cancel that trip. And But currently, India is in complete lockdown. The state that I am in actually has the maximum number of cases Yeah. And so, but the government is doing a great job is trying to contain over it right now. In fact, if they find a positive case anywhere, they’ll immediately make that and containment zone and the entire one kilometer stretch around it would be sanitized and no one is allowed to get out from the Yes, they just make sure that the essentials are available to the people in the containment zone. So they’ve gone real hard on the lockdown. Obviously, the thought process for them is that human lives and more important, economic can be revived. Obviously, economy has taken a big hit. And we won’t know the full impact of that till you know, a few months.


Brian Schoenborn  4:54 

Yeah, it’s gonna be a while for sure. But it’s I mean, I think about like, You know, like I went, I went to India actually visited you in an ad for a while. A couple years ago, I sit there and I think like how, like, if India were doing we’re trying to take the same measures that America was taking. India would be done, be done for this because there’s so many people everywhere, right? There’s just I mean, everywhere you go, there’s people on the streets and just living life or selling products


Bhavit Sheth  5:24 

on cities very high. Mm hmm. Yeah. So if this was to spread very fast, you know, containment would be very difficult.


Brian Schoenborn  5:34 

Yeah, I’d say that’s probably why we’re seeing things with like, and in the US, like, New York, New York State has more cases has more cases than any other country in the world right now. Right. Right. Because Manhattan’s so densely populated right Manhattan’s Queens Brooklyn that you know, the five boroughs. They’re getting devastated over there. Meanwhile, over in California, where I’m at, you know, the our governor instituted a lockdown stay at home order. lockdown for everyone except for non essential people, you know, your food workers, restaurants, deliveries, your transportation kind of stuff. And people have been kind of adhering to it. So we’re not seeing nearly as much of a spike over here as we are in New York. Who knows? I mean, that could change. It could change. That’s early. But I think the big thing right now is that everybody’s staying at home staying in place, just writing it out as much as it sucks. I mean, drive is driving me crazy. It’s driving me crazy. I think, like today I had a god I just I’m like, I feel like I’m on vacation. Like I’m eating nothing but junk food. might ask for like hours. I’m working but I’m sitting on my ass for hours. And I’m gonna come out of this thing like 50 pounds of yours.


Bhavit Sheth  6:47 

And I know we’ll talk about this later, as well, but there’s no sports going on anywhere. So even when you’re sitting at home, you don’t know what to watch except for movies on netflix.


Brian Schoenborn  6:59 

Right? Right. Have you seen the tiger King? Live not Oh, dude, do crazy. It’s crazy. I don’t know if it’s available on Netflix in India yet but like, it’s a documentary about like basically like, stupid white people shit. Like white redneck people these three different three different people that all own competing Tigers use America but it’s like that’s just where it starts and it gets so much crazier dude like shout out to Netflix and Tiger Can you check that shit out? Dude, it’s good. I like a five part series or so. Speaking of sports, though, obviously sports are shut down everywhere. All the major sports here are postponed indefinitely baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, you know all that stuff. And I know that based on what you do, it affects you quite a bit as well. So maybe you could first talk about what you what you and your company does. A dream 11 and and then talk about kind of how it being affected by this whole thing?


Bhavit Sheth  8:02 

Sure. So dreamland is a daily fantasy sports company. fantasy sports is basically a concept where you can get to be a selector. You can choose your own team from specific match for which we are playing for. And, you know, the players that you believe would perform the best on that day would make it to your team. And the way they perform in the real life match would give you points in your fantasy team. And at the end of the day, whichever team has the most points with accumulative of all the players is at the top of the leaderboard admins. So So yeah, that’s a quick, very quick brief fantasy sports. So that would be something


Brian Schoenborn  8:52 

like fantasy football or fantasy baseball where like fantasy football is the big one in America where you know, people get together they draft their teams. See how about a player you know the individual players do. The


Bhavit Sheth  9:04 

only difference is that we do it per match. So, obviously the biggest one for us is cricket. We got a billion YouTube fans in India but apart from cricket we do multiple sports like football with your soccer. Yeah. And then there’s basketball we do. We do hockey, field hockey volleyball. So there are a bunch of sports that we do. But cricket being the biggest of them


Brian Schoenborn  9:33 

so cricket huge in India. It’s huge a lot of


Bhavit Sheth  9:35 

like cricket basically


Brian Schoenborn  9:36 

big and like all of the old UK countries, right. I think America might have left a little too soon in our own sport and said screw cricket playing baseball. Like that. I don’t know. I just like I like to be honest, like I’ve been to I’ve been to the overland Melbourne, where they play their cricket matches. Not during a game I was just there before a game I don’t really know anything about cricket. All I know is like when we were in grad school, so we went to grad school together listeners, that’s how I know Bob it. But I remember when we were, we put together an extracurricular softball team. Right. And I remember like, I played baseball growing up, you know, the whole glove bat and all that thing with the softballs a certain size. And I remember, I remember, I think, Bob, it’s in the outfield, whoever it was that bat hit the ball, and it like, flew to the outfield. And I remember him trying to catch it with his bare hands. And I’m like, Baba, what are you doing? Like, why are you catching bear heads? Do you like use the glove? So I know there’s some I know some similar stuff there. But like what’s, you know, just high level like, can you tell the American audience as well as you know, just kind of reiterate with people that are familiar with it high level what’s going on with cricket?


Bhavit Sheth  10:50 

Yep. So thinking First of all, there’s only two hitters and one pitcher instead of four hitters that you can have on four bases. in baseball, and after every six pitches the pitcher changes. So that that’s a very high level of how the structure is. But the pitcher has to obviously throw to the batsman. So batsman is what we call the hitter in cricket. And the pitcher is called a bowler. So the bowler has to throw the ball towards the batsman. And it’s not exactly similar to baseball but the ball actually has to hit the pitch before it reaches the batsman. That’s where you get maximum. The bowler could get maximum I would say purchase out of the pitch that is being played on in cricket. And once the batsman hits the ball, he doesn’t need to necessarily run it’s not compulsory to them, he can decide whether you want to Run or not. And there are three different formats of the game. The longest format is a five day format runs across five days it has the day.


Brian Schoenborn  12:14 

People go to those like they sit there for eight hours a day for five days like fans


Bhavit Sheth  12:20 

earlier in the day used to do it a lot. Now, with the new formats coming in the viewership is dropped drastically, almost a game for the purists now. And then we have one that 300 pitches for team that is a single day game and that lasts for eight hours again. And then the there’s a shorter format, which is a three and a half hour format, where they’re only 120 pitches for so the hundred years. Now the different variations that have been coming in the 60 pitches, the 100 pitches, But the the three major formats is the three and a half hour format data format and the five day format.


Brian Schoenborn  13:05 

It’s interesting to me how the length of the game is decided based on number of pitches versus like in baseball like number of outs, number of innings, right?


Bhavit Sheth  13:17 

So so it’s a combination. Obviously, we have a number of outs as well every team gets 10 outs. After 10 outs, you’re done, whatever you score is the target for the other team to chase down. And so but the number of pitches is the outer limit. So once you hit those many number of pitches and you don’t get everyone out, the target is set for the other team after those many number of pitches. So and on average, you know, if you the scoring is very different from baseball, right in baseball, if you get a few runs up to 10 runs, it’ll be great Yeah, this is going yeah. And in cricket in a 300 pitch game, for a single side, the average score would be somewhere around 275 to 325. Okay,


Brian Schoenborn  14:15 

yeah. Pretty crazy.


Bhavit Sheth  14:16 

That’s crazy, right? So the so the equivalent of a home run in baseball is six runs in triplicate. in baseball, you actually have to have all the four bases loaded when you hit the home run to get four runs. Right, right. Yeah. As soon as you hit a home run, it’s the next six runs. Okay? Yeah,


Brian Schoenborn  14:34 

cuz in baseball, it’s like you got to go all the way around all you got to touch off four bases to score, right? Yeah, okay. You do you do fantasy sports dream. 11. All right. You’ve mentioned you touch on all of these different sports. But I think you started with the cricket stuff. Is that right? Yes, sir. Can you can you kind of maybe go through like, what it was like to start this? I mean, I think you were from my understanding you were you In your partner, we’re kind of working remotely as well. Right? So,


Bhavit Sheth  15:04 

yeah, let me take you quickly through the journey. Sure. So, Dream alone is 12 years old now. We started in 2008. Actually, we started working on it in 2007. We launched it in 2008. Me and my co founder Hersh, both of us have been playing fantasy football for over 20 years now. 2000 2001 is when we started playing fantasy sports. And that was for soccer, the English Premier League. So after we got done with schooling, you know, harsh went to UK to do his high school. And that’s why he got introduced to fantasy sports for the English Premier League because obviously, it’s the most popular sport in UK where you’re studying. And he introduced us to fantasy, EPL as well. And It was a good way to for all of us to stay in touch right after school. A bunch of us were studying in India, some of our friends had gone to UK or us to study. And this was a thread that ties us all together. So every weekend, we would have banter. You know, you there will be a conversation topic about who’s played well who’s not. It. It, I would say increase the engagement in the game drastically. Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, I think before I’ve been falling football for around five years before I started playing fantasy sports. And after I started playing fantasy football I used to almost watch a game every weekend, if not more. So you know, we we like playing it and we conducted playing with the playing on the fantasy EPL platform and in 2008 was when there was a change happening in the cricket world as well. That’s when the entire, you know, band aid, our format was being transitioned to a newer format, which was a three and a half hour format. That was the new format that was coming in, and a lot of excitement around a lot of buzz. You know, it was more of a entertainment platform which was being created. So we wanted to play fantasy cricket for that tournament as well, which are in 2008, called the Indian Premier League is one of the most popular cricket tournaments in the calendar year, usually played in April May got canceled this year, which I’ll talk about later. And, you know, we wanted to play and we couldn’t find anything to play for fantasy cricket. So it was one of those typical bar conversations right? where you’re like, you know, there is nothing out there. We should create one. It’s such a good opportunity. And, you know, we all excited about that. And then we just went home and slept over. And that’s, you know, there’s so many of these ideas that you get when you just talking with friends or drink. Absolutely.


Brian Schoenborn  18:21 

Hmm. I’ve had a bajillion ideas, man, and I remember like, probably 90% of them.


Bhavit Sheth  18:28 

And then, then after a few days, my co founder, he called me and he’s like, you know, I’ve been thinking, and this is something you know, it’s really stuck in my head. Why don’t we just go ahead and try it out. And, as HR you know, both of us are passionate about sports. Both of us have been playing fantasy sports for a while being for the NBC Sports is engaged in something that should be playing in us at that time. almost halfway. The sports fans were playing fantasy sports. So there definitely seemed to be an opportunity there. And we did a little bit of research, at least in us and, you know, in other countries, there seem to be a lot of traction around fantasy sports.


Brian Schoenborn  19:17 

Oh, absolutely. I even think like, I mean, you’ve been playing fantasy sports since 2001. I’ve been playing since probably at least that long, maybe 9899 you know, around the time when it was just kind of getting going online, right? It really it takes you from a casual fan like oh, you love your team, you know, you’re gonna watch just you’re just you’re, you know, just the Patriots or something like that on Sunday, and then that you’re good to suddenly Oh, shit, no, you got to watch every single game because your players are all over the place and you got to play if you don’t keep tabs on the players. If you don’t watch the games, or at least the highlights or whatever you don’t have. You don’t have an idea of how well they’re actually did. And so then you can’t you know, you’re going to lose that edge against your your You’re buddies, right? So if you last thing you want to do is lose the league. Because then you’re gonna get it from everybody until the next year, you know.


Bhavit Sheth  20:10 

So via actually started off with the same format that at that time fantasy, English Premier League or in us, Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, Fox, all of them had this entire season long format where you create your team at the start of the season. You pick players from all different teams that are playing in that league. And then you can do trades every week. And at the end of the season, you know, whether you won or not basis, you’re ranked on the leaderboard. So we decided to do that format at that time. And as part of our research, we went around talking to a bunch of people who who would, I would say the gaming gurus in India, and all of us, all of them told us that it’s a terrible idea. And as you know, it’s not monetizable there’s no education around fantasy sports in the market, you will have to actually tell people what it is people don’t understand strategy games. So all kinds of things. And in hindsight, they have actually, right, because the format that we are trying to do the season long game, we are trying to monetize ad for ad revenue, you actually need to have a lot of users on your platform. Otherwise you’re you’re ad revenue doesn’t come in. Let me ask you this.


Brian Schoenborn  21:41 

Just for some perspective, you said he launched in 2008. Like for me, like my frame of reference. 2008 is like 2008 internet 2008 in America, right? Internet, sports, all that stuff where you know where people are in America with that stuff. Like roughly where was India as far as whether it’s Internet speeds infrastructures, maybe like where’s the sports scene at like all like where was India at in 2008.


Bhavit Sheth  22:08 

So in 2008, iPhone was just being launched. In India, I think union us, that was the year when iPhone was being launched. So blackberry that was popular at that time. And in India, apart from Blackberry, Nokia was very popular, but they were not smartphones, right? So, in 2008, if you had to play fantasy sports or anything else, if you’re used to, it would either be on your computer, or then if you’re playing games on your console, like a PlayStation, or Xbox or Nintendo and internet speeds were so we at that time, 3g was just about picking up in India. But then again, you know, 3g is mobile internet so people could usually play this only on the laptops, computers and we add decent broadband speed. Not The kind of speed we have today, the broadband speed was decent enough to support, you know, gaming, fantasy sports, all those kinds of platforms at that time. In fact, Facebook had I would not say not launched by rivals. Facebook was very, very new. And in that time, the most popular social media platform. I don’t know if you heard it or not was output,


Brian Schoenborn  23:27 

or Kurt? Yes, it I think I heard of that. I think I heard that. I think it was, like Brazil or something.


Bhavit Sheth  23:36 

Or, I don’t know. But eventually, Google bought it down. And as it does with most of the products they buy, they shut it down after some time. Yeah, so so at that time, awkward was more popular than Facebook. So we were in a very different world back then. Yeah, well, so I mean, so I sit there and I think about it, I go okay.


Brian Schoenborn  23:56 

Today like fantasy sports is amazing. Yes, it’s great to do on your computer, but it’s really easy just to do it on your phone. Right? So so you know, you’re talking starting this starting this company with this ad revenue model, right? And you’re restricted first because you’ve got to, you know, you’ve got to you got to get traction, you got to get scale. Right. But also you’re limited on the time and places people can can get on this. Okay. All right. So I guess yeah, you mean you so you could say those sports commentators or whoever, you know, the sports experts you talked about said it was a terrible idea. Or you’re just like lightyears ahead of them.


Bhavit Sheth  24:40 

You know, for everybody in this in. This seems to be a great idea. This is something that you’re passionate about legislate out, you know, you’re younger than 23 I think, and I you know, if this works out, great. If it doesn’t, you have enough time, either of us to do something thing as I found any kind of scale at that time to make good ad revenue. So so the first three years we actually learn what not to do. We actually figured out a lot of things that we are doing wrong in that interim was when I actually came to Bentley. Because one of the things that me and my co founder both figured out is that being engineers, we didn’t have as much business acumen as we should. So we are like, you know, it may be a good idea to go to B school to learn some of something about business as well. And so we took turns, I went to Bentley first, and after I came back a year later, my co founder went to Columbia. Yeah, that’s how we split it up. And both of us got a B school degree and some more knowledge on how to run a business. Obviously practical experience centers and And then some of the school experience also helped us with, you know, just understanding of how to run a business.


Brian Schoenborn  26:09 

So what are some what are some, like early like, I mean, aside from these guys telling you it was a bad idea, like, what are some of the major like, hurdles that you came across? And then like, Oh, that’s the first question then after that, like, what is like the big like, you got that first big one? And you’re like, yes, this is this is working.


Bhavit Sheth  26:27 

Right. So I think in the first year itself, we ran through 70% of the money that we are faced with friends and family. Oh, sure. And, and obviously, that was one of the biggest hurdles because you’re like, Okay, if we don’t have money, how are we going to learn the business? And we you know, in that first one, one and a half years, we realized that okay, this is not the right model to go with. We need to pivot and but you to pivot, it will take us some time because we needed to figure out what model works, then build it out, have a team that builds it out for all that you need money and in earnings earnings and have the funds first year, and we didn’t want to go back to family to ask for more money. So So what we decided at that time was that we start a sourcing business, a digital servicing business, which would basically do a bunch of, you know, web development for other companies, managing social media pages, running digital ads, creating games, and stuff like that. And services business inherently obviously has to be profitable, because you would obviously put a markup on every project that you do, of course, and the servicing business slightly lucky in the sense that a first line was actually because of our sports connection was a was a special Team cricket team from IPL calm Mumbai Indians and you know they said that Okay you guys are the digital guys in that sense you have been doing digital for a while we have zero idea on digital. Why don’t you help us build a Facebook page and then that’s it I’m Facebook has started to gain popularity. Oh, we will make sure you know we will build it out. We will maintain your Facebook we will run ads if you want. And 2008 nine, I think 2010 is when we started this off. There was a time when I don’t know whether it was the same case out there. But in your the vanity metric was lights how many lights you have on your Facebook page. So for Mumbai Indians, here we are obviously very early in the Facebook. So when we launched the brand page, we were able to get a million likes within six months for them.


Brian Schoenborn  28:56 



Bhavit Sheth  28:58 

So you They were very happy with the way we are managing content with the way we are managing engagement on the site. And Adidas was the sponsor of Mumbai Indians. They saw this and they approached us saying that listen, you’ve been doing a great job for momentum. So why don’t you both with us as well? And we donate surely not. And so


Brian Schoenborn  29:24 

no big deal. I mean, just for some perspective, the Mumbai Indians are there like I mean, they could be to translate that to American sports like, like the what like the Yankees?


Bhavit Sheth  29:36 

Yeah, so they are right now. As of today, one of the most successful teams in IPL Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings two teams, they have won the IPL the most number of times.


Brian Schoenborn  29:53 

So you’re building webpages you’re building Facebook pages for the Yankees of India Premier League cricket All right, and now you’ve got Adidas. And these are your, like your first two clients basically. Yes, first.


Bhavit Sheth  30:08 

We got a lucky break out there. And once you have Mumbai, Indians and Adidas as your clients, you can go out and pitch to a lot of other like whoever else you want,


Brian Schoenborn  30:17 

right? Let’s get open so many doors


Bhavit Sheth  30:21 

because because otherwise if you go as a 2425 year old pitching to, you know, probably 4550 year old marketing guys and no nice companies saying that, you know, I’ll run marketing for you. They’ll be like go first get a marketing degree and come back.


Brian Schoenborn  30:37 



Bhavit Sheth  30:40 

So we got we got a lucky break there. And from there we actually able to scale this up into you know, running across five different cities in India. We no plans, we are running a profitable business, and we are global clients like Pepsi Lufthansa, Discovery Channel. And a bunch of these other people. And, you know, that was kind of feeding the research and the pivoting activities that we are trying to do for Milan as well. So, so that actually worked out for us because, you know, that helped us get over the first big hurdle of running out of cash almost.


Brian Schoenborn  31:23 

That’s some pure resourcefulness man.


Bhavit Sheth  31:26 

It just it just about adapting and figuring out ways to survive, right?


Brian Schoenborn  31:32 

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You know, it’s funny like I am, I’m a veteran, right? I’m a military veteran. And one of the big things from my Marine Corps days, is we always talk about, you know, no matter what you’re going through, you’ve got to improvise, adapt and overcome. Like if you got your eyes on the prize and you are on your path or whatever it is, right? until there’s absolutely no way of making something happen. Figure it out. Right? Right. To be honest, like, that’s a pretty fucking lucky break, you got, you know, like, not everybody. Not everybody has that opportunity. But it’s also it’s also like getting yourself out there. Right, right. It’s working hard towards your goal, but then also being in the right place at the right time. So it’s, I’m not gonna discount it and say, Oh, it’s just lucky. You know, like, it’s one of those things like, like I told you that I, you know, I produced that event between manchester united and Liverpool in Australia a couple years ago. Right, right. I mean, part of that could be like, Oh, yeah, that was luck. Sure. I was in the right place at the right time. Right. But I also had, I also had my skill set, and I experience my education. You know, I was looking to do something big and something awesome and all that shit. And on top of all that, I happen to run into this guy, this friend of mine who was looking for somebody to help out with that sort of thing. Right? So yeah, it’s like I just sit there go, Oh, my God. It’s crazy. Like it’s such dumb luck. Those are your first few clients, but it’s not dumb luck. Like it’s there’s a lot Should that goes in to that sauces before you get that opportunity?


Bhavit Sheth  33:04 

You know? Yes. In fact, the first thing was the realization that what we are doing was not working out. And yeah, we needed to think about something else. We were being like, Okay, let’s try it out for another year. If it doesn’t work, we’ll shut it down.


Bhavit Sheth  33:20 

But actually, you know,


Bhavit Sheth  33:24 

having that perseverance to go through it to be like, No, we are going to figure this out. Yes, first attempt has failed. But maybe there is another model that can work out. fantasy sports is yet a great concept. Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s the connect that we have built with this, these teams that again, it helped us when we are there at the right place at the right time.


Brian Schoenborn  33:50 

So you’re able to build out this digital marketing thing, right? Mumbai, Indians, Adidas, so on so forth,


Bhavit Sheth  33:59 

at what point You guys, I mean, do you still have that digital marketing? Or do you guys still do that? Or if you know, No, you don’t. So what happened is, in the meanwhile, obviously, we are looking at ways to pivot. And eventually, we came up with, you know, the daily fantasy sports. Let’s try daily fantasy sports for cash. So we are not relying on monetization through ads, b2b monetization will be to cease directly and we will do a pay to play fantasy sports version where if people want to participate, they play and sorry, they pay and if they win, they win cash prizes. So, you know that that was the model that we came up with and while we are pivoting to that, the entire digital servicing weight was feeding the growth. And then, when once we pivoted to this model, we realized that you know, we Between the two of us co founders, it was very difficult to handle two businesses because there was no focus, right? Like the product was the passion, the services I was getting as the money so you would always kind of be biased to the business that was making revenue getting as the money keeping the lights on, but in that then you’re just kind of ignoring a little bit the product side that we always wanted to build out. So then once we had a stable, you know, few hundred thousand users on on fantasy sports, and we saw the initial traction to be good. You know, we are seeing that okay, people were getting used to this format and you know, we are getting the numbers that we decided that let’s go out and sell off our digital services business and focus on the product business, which our team And that’s what we did. We went out, we sold digital services business to another Digital Services Agency. And we pumped back all the money that we got from that sale into dream 11. And that’s what then gave us, you know, some money to go advertise, get some more users on board, you know, so we launched this version in, in 2011, December 2011. And by around 2013 2014, we had some pretty good traction. But, you know, at the end of the day, if you’re not able to market the product properly, you’re not going to get as many users. So then we needed money to start going gung ho and all our marketing, and that’s when we decided, Okay, we go out and now try to raise funds. So at the same time that my co founder was in us at Columbia Business School, so He started reaching out to a lot of VCs in India and you so he started reaching out to a bunch of VCs and us. I think he spent more time in Silicon Valley and in New York and we reached out to close to around 150 VCs B’s, you know, all any institution that would find out and all hundred and 50 actually known as No. And, you know, there was there was quite a bummer that okay, you know, we’ve been trying to raise this money and not able to raise it, you know, we’ll be at that growth capital and you’re obviously at Burning money. So while the money that we got from the sale of the digital services agency was with us, but last only for a certain period of time. So we realized that okay, you know, probably reaching out to be csps B’s in us in the probably not the best idea. We started reaching out to people in India as well. That’s when we got one after getting probably 150 knows. We got one yes, from VC firm in India. And then we got a series a funding in end of 2014.


Brian Schoenborn  38:18 

That’s crazy to man, like, you know, like, I’ve also gone out to raise money. I’ve come close a couple of times. But I’ve also had to pivot and retool and things like that. But I remember I was raising money for one project for one venture. And I reached out to like 125 VCs or something like that. That’s about my breaking point. That was like, where I’m going, ah, I don’t know if it’s gonna work. I applaud you guys. You know, it’s a numbers game, right? It’s like, you know, one door closes, another one opens. Keep hitting it. Right


Bhavit Sheth  38:54 

persistence. Yes, it is. And that’s something that we’ve had. had to have ever since the day we started till today, that’s I think an important trait in general. If you want to run a business, obviously, one of the things that we had to be very cognizant about when we started the business and you know that also took us a lot of time when we are pivoting is to figure out that whether this kind of business model is in line with the laws of the country right because it could be very easily construed as a betting kind of business and betting is not allowed in India, similar to how betting are not allowed in us till a few months ago. It’s the same concept as it is in the US, where you’re allowed to stake money on a game of skill and win cash prizes. And that’s not considered like betting


Brian Schoenborn  39:50 

it’s considered a game of skill because yes, because you choose which players you on


Bhavit Sheth  39:54 

set as good as the role of a selector right. You know, selecting the team for Specific, say for the Yankees, for example, in 2014. And so Jan 2015 is when we got our first round of funding a series A. At that time, we had around 300,000 users on the platform. And since then, you know, we’ve had five rounds of funding four rounds of funding and one round of secondary transaction now and today we stand at around 80 million users

Related Episodes

11| On Growth, Leadership, and Business: Warrior Rising Chief of Staff Ken Vennera

10| On Embracing the Journey: Journalist and 6-time Beijing Boxing Champ
Nick Bedard

9| On Being Black, Gay, and Over the Top in America,
Norman J. Liverpool IV

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top