Shreyas Kulkarni

“Don’t have fears of associating with a new IPL team”: Saroj Panigrahi, Senior VP, My11Circle

He talks of sponsoring the new Lucknow team and the women’s T20 league, battling cricket fatigue, and taking on rival apps.

“We’ve grown 40 per cent this year in terms of users,” reveals Saroj Panigrahi, senior vice president of My11Circle, a fantasy cricket gaming app.

He was speaking to afaqs! a day after IPL team Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) lost the playoff game to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and were knocked out of the T20 league. The senior vice president ruing the result was proud of the team’s debut performance in the tournament.

Creating brand visibility in a cluttered market is tough. As per a FIFS-Deloitte report from February 2022, the Indian Fantasy Sports (FS) Industry has a market size of over Rs 34,000 crore and caters to over 13 crore registered users and makes a market size projection of Rs 1,65,000 crore by FY25. My11Circle battles the likes of Dream11, Winzo, Gamezy, and MPL among others in this market.

My11Circle is the title sponsor for LSG and the brand is the most visible name on the team’s blue jersey. For a fantasy cricket app founded in 2019 and whose parent company Games 24x7, as per Economic Times, raised $75 million in funding in March 2022 at a company valuation of $2.5 billion, landing it in the unicorn club, the app chose to sponsor a new team that had to build everything from scratch.

Panigrahi says their fantasy cricket app is the second biggest in India after debuting a mere three years ago and because they made it all this way, “we do not have any fears of associating with a new team”.

He points to the fact that India’s central region did not have an IPL team until now so “we thought it might be a good opportunity to associate with Lucknow and serve central India’s cricket fans.”

When asked about the regions their users come from, he says the fans come from diverse regions because they follow the players of LSG who themselves are from all cricketing nations. “A fanbase was created because the team performed well and we benefited.”

My11Circle’s association with cricket did not end with the LSG’s last match, it was also the title sponsor of the Women’s T20 Challenge, a franchise-based women’s T20 league held in India since 2018.

Women’s cricket has come a long way and for India to become a sporting nation, one cannot only depend on men’s sports feels the senior vice president and says, “We as a brand, have always stood for gender equality and because of this reason, we thought this will be a great opportunity to be the sponsors of women's T20 challenge.”

Sponsoring women’s cricket is a much-needed move but is Panigrahi worried about cricket fatigue among viewers. Says the senior vice president, “A true Indian cricket fan never feels any fatigue of cricket. I don't think that's a concern at all… We're not worried about ratings; we're focused on taking cricket as a medium to create brand visibility for our audience.”

While My11Circle focuses on building brand visibility, the senior vice president remarks, “We never believed in the me-too product. We always innovated and gave different offerings to users and that's the reason we've been very successful,” and revealed their use of AI modelling to understand user behaviour and target them with more accuracy as one of their main tools of success.

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