DoIT Sports Management, a venture of the Radha Kapoor-owned ‘Three Sisters Foundation,’ is pioneering ‘Rurban’ ventures. This is founded in the company belief that the gap between rural and urban india can be bridged through sports – a universal language – and considers it as their social responsibility to enable it.
DoIT Sports, which owns a franchise in three different sporting leagues in India, is investing “heavily” in sports with the philosophy of “monetizing the sports business / eco-system while making a positive impact on the future of the nation”.
Saumya Khaitan, CEO, DoIT Sports in an exclusive interview with insidesport.co discussed the company’s philosophy, challenges, commitments and future plans. Here are the excerpts:
InsideSport: In a nation where cricket is termed as a religion, what motivates DoIT Sports to invest aggressively in non-cricketing sports ventures?
Saumya Khaitan: We are investing heavily in sports. The demand for sports is growing significantly in our country. Sports directly and indirectly has a very positive impact in theoverall development of the nation andwith corporates entering the sporting system in the way they have over the last few years will also impact in building young talentat the grass root levels, making India a strong sporting nation across sports. Sports as a whole has vast potential and we realised that there was a gap in this sector which is where we came in. One of the ethos of our company is to bridge the RURAL and URBAN (RUR-BAN) gap, where we saw Hockey, Kabaddi and TT fit in best. While we treat this as a business, there is also a social responsibility that comes in with it as we are providing a platform for sportsmen where it may be required.
IS: Hockey was your first sports leagues’ venture, then kabaddi and now table tennis. Is it a business model that you have planned or is it also a social responsibility from your side?
SK: Kabaddi was our first investment in to sports, followed by Hockey and Table Tennis. As mentioned, primarily this is a business for us but it has the added benefit of being a social activity as well. Luckily for us, every decision we take, affects the sportsmen we promote and this in turn affects our business. The two are intertwined in this and that is where our philosophy of ‘Rurban’ (Rural, Urban & Metro regions) comes in. We are proud to be pioneers in this and it is a part of our core objective to promote grassroots sports development in India. The sports we have ventured into require fewer infrastructure thus are available to all irrespective of which part of society they belong to. This goes a long way in promoting the sport and is a great medium to help in bridging the gap between rural and urban India.
IS: Which of your three sporting investments will be most fruitful according to you?
SK: Profitability, it is very early to comment on for now. We have to check sustainability and it is a long-term process. One needs to devote almost 4-5 years, before looking into the profitability aspect, however, one thing is for sure, it is a very healthy business model. We are amazed by the response kabaddi has attained. It’s the first season for Ultimate Table Tennis and while the response has been good, it is too early to analyse this.
IS: What are challenges for an investor in sports’ franchises?
SK: In any business venture, an entrepreneur faces a lot of challenges on a daily basis. There are challenges you anticipate and then there are hidden challenges. You plan your best and then you have to be flexible to understand the dynamics of unforeseen challenges. You need a good team to overcome them. We as a team work in collaboration to manage all our franchises and a lot of our team members play globally. This brings in a healthy level of exposure and understanding between all those involved.
IS: The name “Dabang” has been a constant factor with all your franchises? Any special reason?
SK: We feel that we are ‘Dabang’ – so we are ‘Dabang’ in the naming convention, too. We adopted the name for our first team and then carried it through to the others. This helps in our business model as people then identify with all our teams as part of one entity. We were of the opinion that it enhances the customer experience and as well as sponsors’ experience. Since, we are into mass sports it works like all major brands.
IS: With regard to sponsorship sales, how has it been for all your franchises?
SK: India being a big cricketing nation, sponsorship is a challenge. There are no two-ways about it, but things are gradually changing. In our first season for kabaddi, we used to reach out to sponsors. Now, after four successful seasons, the sponsors are approaching us. Over a period of time, I believe this will happen across table tennis also.
IS: What can be an incubation period for such a business model to break even?
SK: I think for an average sports team with a decent growth-rate, somewhere between 3-5 years.
IS: When are we going to see DoIT Sports beyond these these ventures?
SK: We are working towards creating a new intellectual property, however, at this stage I cannot reveal much.
IS: You have been actively associated with various NGOs as part of your Corporate Social Responsibility? What is the philosophy of the company on CSR?
SK: This is something that comes from the top. Our mentor Mr. Rana Kapoor and the owner of DoIT, Mrs. Radha Kapoor Khanna are very supportive of such causes. As a socially responsible company, we make sure that we help as many causes as we can. Many of our players also come from very humble backgrounds. We try and do what we can to support the causes we believe in and with the level of branding and exposure we get through our matches as well as through our players, we try and spread awareness among our fans. Furthermore, we donate a part of every ticket sold to each NGO. Sport, we firmly believe, is a strong medium to address social issues, in the fastest and most effective ways. From day one our mission has been; to be good and do good.
Living up to their corporate commitment, DoIT Sports is presently supporting six NGOs leading various causes.
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