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We are helping to implement solutions in the Sports Industry, says Sporjo CEO G. Srinivvasan

Published at :July 9, 2022 at 9:14 PM
Modified at :July 9, 2022 at 9:14 PM
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Joseph Biswas

Ever since their foundation in May 2020, SPORJO have made leaps and bounds toward fulfilling their dream of developing a Sport Ecosystem. The Mumbai-based brand is spearheaded by its CEO G Srinivvasan, who has extensive experience in building sports and businesses.

Prior to Sporjo, Srinivvasan was part of the team that set up and launched the Indian Super League. He headed the marketing and sponsorship sales for BCCI, working on the Indian Premier League. He has also worked with Nike and ESPN.

In April 2022, Sporjo conducted India's first-ever Sports Ecosystem and Gaming Hackathon. The event caught the attention of tens and thousands across the country and the world. In a candid interview with Khel Now, G Srinivvasan spoke about the Sports Ecosystem, the Hackathon, sporting professions in India, indigenous sports, and more.

What does a Sports Ecosystem mean?

A lot of the targets that Sporjo strives toward achieving deal with a Sports Ecosystem. Regarding what it essentially encompassed, Srinivvasan said, "The Sports Ecosystem encompasses a lot of things. The key things are - the sportspersons, the stadiums in which they play, the fans, and brands who put a lot of money and sponsors into the sports, making them viable and marketing. So while there are a lot of factors involved, these are the most important pillars of the ecosystem."

"The ecosystem is something that we are building along with other people. Everyone has a role to play in it. Say the BCCI is building an ecosystem for cricket in the country. What we are doing as part of that is ensuring teams get quality people, fans get educated and see what exactly is happening behind the scenes, and get jobs in the sports industry. So that is basically what we endeavour toward."

"As part of the ecosystem development of human capita, Sporjo has built a database of over 950 sports companies where we can place candidates in. As of now, we have placed over 200 candidates in over 75 companies. We place one person 3 people a week, the idea is to place 3 people a day. And that’s not possible without developing the sports ecosystem which we are a small part of. It will take inputs from the entire industry across all categories to do that."

Sporjo and COVID-19

Founded in May 2020, Sporjo kicked off right after the first wave of COVID-19 hit the nation. Srinivvasan speaks about how the pandemic affected sports in India and the globe.

"So COVID had pretty much stopped everything. Because of COVID, the entire ecosystem had shut down. Obviously, players were not playing, stadiums were empty. Even when players started playing, stadiums were still empty. Fans were watching it only through one medium, which was either TV or streaming. Commercial activity continued for the first year but took a hit the next year. And in terms of marketing and fan engagement, the only thing one could do was wait for things to normalize. So I think the ecosystem got hit on three or four of the five large buckets."

"Speaking of Sporjo, we are a pandemic baby. Pretty much everyone said that we must be fools to start this during the pandemic. But then, there is no time like the right time. So we built the backend and have been building toward the ecosystem till things normalized. And after that, it's pretty much been fine."

Hack For Sport - India's first Sports Ecosystem and Gaming Hackathon

The Hack For Sport was the first ever Sports Ecosystem & Gaming Hackathon in India. The 3-month event brought together students and young professionals in sport, gaming, creativity, technology, marketing, product development, and entrepreneurship to build solutions to problems unique to the Indian Sports Ecosystem.

"The Hackathon was one such endeavour of a thought leadership initiative from our side. The sports industry has a lot of challenges as you know. Everybody comes and highlights problems in panel discussions, but no one gives solutions. Even if someone gives solutions, there is no one to carry it through. So the idea was to ensure that people have a platform, a voice to implement a solution which sees the light of the day."

"We are working with incubators and companies to ensure that these ideas are implemented. We will definitely help them and stand by them. We'll ensure that we do this much bigger, and better, and open it on a much larger scale next year. This year we had 4500+ entries. Next year, what's the harm in getting 10,000 entries? From people outside India."

Experience from involvement with IPL and ISL

Srinivvasan led the marketing and strategy functions for the entire Reliance Sports group and was a part of the team that set up and launched the Indian Super League and its subsequent expansion to 10 teams. He has been involved in all operations of the league but has spearheaded the sponsorship sales and marketing functions for three years.

During his time in the IPL, Srini helped formulate the strategy for the IPL brand. He worked with the 8 franchise partners (teams) on all commercial and sponsorship elements. Reflecting upon his time with the two projects he said, "The biggest learning from working with the ISL and IPL was understanding what exactly happens at each part of the role."

"The big thing was to manage events of scale, but what was equally important was identifying the lowest common multiple that comes into play to make the event possible. Even managing some security or clearing up the extra crowd at gates, is equally important. So that was the biggest learning for me."

"The passion for football that you see in Goa, Kolkata, Kerala or the North East is incredible. The passion is as much, or even more than what the people feel for cricket in the country. I've seen football matches at stadiums like Old Trafford and Camp Nou. I don't think you see the passion of Kerala anywhere else in the world."

Bringing Indigenous Sports to the forefront

One of the aims of SPORJO has been to establish indigenous sports and generate revenue from them. In the wake of the success of the Pro Kabaddi, Srinivvasan stated, "If you are launching an indigenous sport, I think it has to have all aspects of success. You have to build the sport. If you look to build a television property, then you'll fail."

Unless and until more people play the sport, it will not gain exposure in the country. So if Kabaddi or Kho Kho has to grow, there has to be more players at every level. Marketing and promotion will help you for one or two years. The fan has to feel deeply engaged with the sport."

Women in Sporting Professions

Srinivvasan spoke about the participation of women in the sporting industry. "Unfortunately, women form close to 20-25% of the workforce. That's the sad part. On our part, Sporjo is trying to ensure that there are a lot more women who come to the fold.

In fact, about 20-25% of our placements have been women. The question of 'why' can be traced back to the fact that women play lesser sports. The idea is to not just get them to play sports but to be interested in sports as well. I'm sure, as Sporjo, we'll play facilitators to that - right from the school level and going forward."

How Sporjo are helping the ecosystem

"At the moment, despite having many products, we focus on four large categories. The first one is junior, which is for schools. In junior, we have multiple products with Sporjo Superchamps. They will all be launched between July and August of 2022."

"There's a partnership of building a community with a coaching app that we are doing. We are also going to do a nationwide school sports quiz. After a kid passes out of school, we have a category called 'mentor'. There are multiple offerings for candidates who want to make a career in the sports industry. There is a one-on-one program, a one is two, three, or four, a group program, or for institutions. We are also looking to launch the 'Get, Set, Sporjo', which will be free to avail."

The next category is Plus and the final category is Coach. It's not about teaching a football coach how to teach football better, but to add skills that the coach may lack. We are looking to train a lot of P.E. teachers and coaches. We are looking to tie up with world-class coaches outside India to help Indian coaches and enhance their personalities."

"Keeping these four stages in life, we are calling this journey 'Sporjo for Life'. Irrespective of the stage of life you're in, we have something for you. It is never too late to enter sport. We, as a platform, will ensure that quality knowledge is given to you so that your job readiness in the industry increases manifold. This leads to our mission of creating many more qualified professionals in the country over the next 10 years."

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