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2010-01-15

The saviour of sports in India

Everybody cribs about the poor facilities and infrastructure available to sports in India. But a few work towards improving it. Nandan Kamath unlike others chose to act rather than crib. Here is Nandan Kamath, the founder and Director of GoSports in conve

Everybody cribs about the poor facilities and infrastructure available to sports in India. But a few work towards improving it. Nandan Kamath unlike others chose to act rather than crib. Here is Nandan Kamath, the founder and Director of GoSports in conversation with Franchise India Media.

 

Shambhavi Anand (SA): Tell us something about GoSports. What  products do you offer?

 

Nandan Kamath (NK): We founded GoSports in 2006.  As a boutique sports management consultancy, our main focus is on the identification and grooming of high-potential sporting talent in the country and the holistic operational and commercial management of sports teams, academies, federations, leagues and tournaments.

 

We offer a range of premium services to our various clients – including strategic sports PR, communications and branding, advisory services, team management and logistics and marketing and sponsorship.

 

At the core, we are interested in professionalising and invigorating Indian sports with a focus on leveraging and supporting the tremendous sporting potential our country holds.

 

SA: How did the idea conceive?

 

NK: As youngsters, other two co-founders and I had played serious sports. So we know the challenges that budding sportspersons face. It becomes frustrating at times for young players, who have the passion and talent, but are held back due to lack of funding, and infrastructure, etc. From professional experience it became apparent that we had significant value to add to this environment.  We hoped an initiative like this (a professional sports management and athlete development firm) would be able to catalyse the system and help talented sportspersons build viable careers out of sport and in the process, bring India to the forefront of the sporting world.

 

As the company has grown over the last few years, we have begun to extend our range of professional management services to other sporting entities like sports academies (both Indian and foreign), sports teams, corporations/brands with sport investments etc.  Helping Indian talent perform on the world stage remains our primary institutional objective and we are working on achieving that objective in a multi-pronged manner.

 

SA: Where did you get the funding from?

 

NK: Our major investment has been our time and energies besides building our team and some investments in our athletes.  We have been self-funded from the day-1 because we feel it is critical to nurture this nascent venture to shape it well before we scale it up using external funding.   

 

SA: What kinds of issues prevail in this space?

 

NK: India is still a young and immature market in terms of professional sports management, but the industry is growing at a breakneck speed. Indian sport will take its next big leap when Indians begin performing not just creditably but exceptionally on the various international sporting platforms. There is, however, a lack of professional management services to sportspeople and it is imperative that sports federations, academies and other sporting bodies take the onus to establish a professional system that is able to generate commercial opportunities and a sustainable environment, which, in turn, attracts potential sponsors and investors and, consequently, better talent.

 

The cricket success story can serve as a model for other sports to emulate, where our country has now become the hub of world cricket, attracting the best talent in the world to play for our teams, train at our facilities and participate in our tournaments. There’s no reason why this can’t happen with other sports in the country if the right efforts are made.  Meaningful career progression and the right incentives for sporting talent must lead the way.

 

SA: What according to you is the market potential?

 

NK: As I mentioned earlier, the sports industry is growing at a very rapid pace. Sports events like the IPL have shown us just how much value and revenue can be generated from such platforms by brands and sponsors. Another area that is bound to grow is TV rights sales and licensing fees. Sportspeople have become valuable brand ambassadors and the already flourishing business of marketing athletes is set to grow even more in the coming years. The professional management of sports teams is also a huge market to tap into.

 

We have started seeing India Inc. become more active in the promotion and development of Indian sport. There has been a mindset change where companies are now seeing investment in sports as a lucrative business opportunity rather than corporate social responsibility (e.g. IPL Franchisees, Force India F1 Team etc.) and we are likely to see more of this in the future as well.

 

SA: How are you promoting this business?

 

NK: We have developed expertise in talent identification and development, team management and client representation. Our strategic alliances with national sporting bodies, federations (both national and international) and our network of athletes allow us to pitch our services to a number of clients – be it to manage sports teams, provide essential PR and branding services, or organise and execute world-class training camps in India.

 

SA: How have you monetised your business?

 

NK: Ours remains an evolving business model, and our revenues are a combination of fees for services rendered and commissions based on value generated for our clients.  We continue to work on diversifying our revenue sources with a focus on both stability and growth.

 

SA: What were your roadblocks as a start-up?

 

NK: We started our venture towards the end of 2006 so we are still in our initial years.  At the very outset, it was a challenge to convince people that sports is a worthwhile pursuit let alone a career.  The high-quality talent that we have has limited platforms and opportunities to display potential; this is also a huge challenge for us.  It’s like having a great dancer and no stage or a wonderful actor but no movies.  The environment around sports needs to improve dramatically and commercial incentives need to be enhanced to bring our best and brightest to sports. We are optimistic that it is a temporary phase that shall pass.

 

SA: Do you have any role models?

 

NK: I don’t personally believe in role models.  I do, however, very much enjoy watching and learning from highly-influential people as they execute their visions and I’ve had the good fortune to have been exposed to a few.

 

SA: Any advice for new entrepreneurs?

 

NK: Trust your instincts, work on something you care about and with people you like, enjoy the little successes, continue to dream big and work hard towards converting those dreams to reality and opportunities will find you.

 

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