EXCLUSIVE: Strategic innovations have been our key differentiator: Vinit Godara of MyTeam11

image-exclusive-Vinit-Godara-CEO-MyTeam11-mediabrief-1.jpg

The online gaming, fantasy sports landscape in India has gone through a boom, with a dip in user base during the initial phase of the lockdown the industry has since thrived, and now with the advent of India’s mega sporting event  IPL, the popularity of fantasy sports platform amongst users has sky-rocketed.

To know more about this MediaBrief.com caught up with Vinit Godara, Co-Founder and CEO of MyTeam11, to understand how MyTeam11’s user base has grown during the pandemic, the strategies they use to operate in a highly competitive industry, how IPL 2020 has been a game changer for fantasy sports and more. Read on.

During the pandemic there has been a surge in the number of fantasy sports, gaming apps. Why do you think  this category has become so popular with users?

Like most other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought in a plethora of changes in online gaming and fantasy sports as well. Physical sports have come to a halt completely and gaming is an easy outlet for all the people to relieve stress. Hence, the lockdown while led to an initial fall in the user base for the whole industry also created an opportunity as people started resorting to gaming applications on a large scale.

Hence, it helped the industry sail through what could have been a major hit. The FIFS and KPMG report released in July also supported this fact saying that the industry has already started moving towards a v-shaped curve of growth.

The report stated that overall revenues of the OFS (Online Fantasy Sports) operators INR 2470 crore in FY 20 a 3X rise driven by growth in user engagement and CEA(competition entry-amount).

Now coming to the fact of the rising number of Fantasy Gaming applications, the major boost has been the announcement of IPL. If you note most of the announcements of new applications have come in and around the time IPL started. Cricket occupying the major share of the market and being the first sport to begin it was obvious that a number of companies will look to use this as a platform to launch their applications after a period of lull.

Has the current pandemic boosted the average time users spend on MyTeam11 app?

The pandemic has led to one common trend that is more time spent on the online gaming platforms as a recreational and also as a bonding activity in all families. This has certainly been the case on our platform as well, but I would also like to credit the fact that we held firm on our motto of continuous innovation and diversified our platform to open up new horizons for our users.

As a result, we had to speed up the launch of some of our new offerings. Hence, we blended new capabilities to the platform in order to keep the users engaged. We have till now launched three new offerings namely MyteamRummy, MyTeam11 Quiz and Myteampoker since April 2020. All the properties have been performing really well and they have helped us gain a lot of footing.

Also as far as pure fantasy sports are concerned, our recent best period has been during the Caribbean Premier League 2020. It set us up beautifully for the IPL season. During the CPL 2020, we were one of the most favoured applications amongst the Indian users.

With so many competitors what differentiates MyTeam11 from similar apps?

In a very close-knit market like fantasy sports, competition is always going to be there but the challenge lies in making oneself sustainable and I am proud of the fact that we have proved the same time and again.

For me, MyTeam11’s differentiator has been our strategic innovation which has driven us so far. We were one of the first few platforms to launch in India and have done fairly well in gaining more than 15 million users.

Our application has a variety of offerings for all kinds of users with nine major fantasy sports which include fantasy cricket, football, volleyball, kabaddi, basketball, hockey, rugby, handball and baseball. Also, we have a 24×7 customer care service to help our users and tutorial videos for explaining how to play fantasy sports.

At the moment, we have also introduced a golden ticket program for the users with which they can earn considerable discounts and also a Leaderboard mode for gaming, tailor-made for the IPL season which helps users earn extra winnings.

As I stated earlier, there are new offerings like MyTeam11 Quiz, a knowledge-based quiz game and 13- card format – MyteamRummy and Myteampoker which offer the casual gamers a chance to interact with the platform while not worrying about the intricacies of a particular sport.

A number of other offerings are also in the pipeline which shall be revealed soon enough.

image-exclusive-Vinit-Godara-CEO-MyTeam11-Blurb-1-mediabrief.jpg

As a lot of LIVE sporting events were cancelled, how did that impact MyTeam11 and the fantasy gaming industry in general?

To be honest the impact was obvious and like every other fantasy gaming platform we also saw an initial dip in the engagement rates on the platform. But with sports events returning firstly with European football and now with cricket we are pretty well placed.

What was the strategy used to onboard users when MyTeam11 was initially launched in 2016?

The primary objective when we started off was to make sure that we create resonance amongst the customers and hence, we brought on Virender Sehwag as our brand ambassador, this gave us the first boost.  We made sure that we don’t divulge and stay within the realms of fantasy gaming as a domain and build a solid user base. Going a step further, after we were sure that we have established ourselves well, we concentrated on strategic partnerships and sponsorship deals.

One of the biggest ones was sponsoring India’s tour of the West Indies where we became the first Indian Fantasy gaming platform to do so. Further, we have targeted key properties from time to time and all the partnerships have been rather fruitful.

A major part of our outreach to the users was also a thorough impetus on the tier-2 cities in order to generate the best out of our efforts. We localised our approach while making sure that a national perspective is in place.

Since then how has the business and marketing strategy changed?

We have always tried to balance our activities through all these years of business. We have never been too extravagant while we have also not backed out from making spends in the right direction when it comes to strengthening our business.

When the journey began we knew that our core concentration has to be on acquiring users and developing the business. Hence, we kept it simple for ourselves, provide the best possible user experience and everything else will follow. But with time, we have expanded slowly and gradually on every front.

We have become more aggressive from a marketing point of view especially on the digital front. We have also started using advertising more strategically in order to create a resonance for MyTeam11 among the users by using television, print and digital mediums. We are very particular about choosing our tournaments and marketing spots so that we can reap value for our marketing efforts and it doesn’t come across as an unnecessary push.

A significant part of our efforts is now directed towards running various awareness campaigns and also social drives in order to reach out to the people at a community level. With all boxes ticked, we are moving forward with a 360-degree approach to building our brand.

So, one can say it has been a story of changing our image from that of just another start-up four years back to that of a go-to and one of the leading Indian Fantasy Sports Platforms.

image-exclusive-Vinit Godara-CEO-MyTeam11-Blurb-2-mediabrief.jpg

As a major sporting event in India how does IPL2020 affect MyTeam11’s user base?

With cricket occupying 75% of the fantasy market share it is given that the biggest T20 extravaganza of the world is going to draw in a lot of users. Every year during the IPL we see an approximate growth of around 8x-10x.

This year as well we have gone live with our campaign “India ki Apni Fantasy App” targeting the very notion of Indian Application for Indian Users which has been receiving a very positive response so far.

Do you think that fantasy gaming apps will help in increasing the viewership/ popularity of sports like basketball, volleyball, hockey etc?

Yes, it will definitely. It is a direct correlation. For playing any fantasy sports you will have to understand the sport for which you need to watch the sport first. Watching the sport increases the analytical ability towards the sport which thereon comes in handy in creating the most valuable team for any user. Without the apt understanding of all the strengths, weaknesses and past performances one cannot achieve the kind of precision needed for creating the most effective team.

In addition, to supplement this fact a Kantar & FIFS survey based on 1,434 respondents who engage with Fantasy sports has already stated that 59% of users have started watching new sports because of their interest in fantasy sports, while 48% of fantasy sports users now watch almost every game irrespective of the team or country.

What is MyTeam11’scurrent revenue model?

There is a platform fee on paid contests which is 12-15% which forms the core of our revenue model.

How has IPL’s popularity impacted the business?

The impact is very evident and positive, especially when it comes to the monthly active user engagement. We are now witnessing a 2X growth in the monthly average active user base owing to IPL.

Which cities have shown the maximum growth since CPL T20 and during the current IPL season?

With a sport like cricket a spur in the activity of users is seen from all corners of the country. Hence, it is difficult to point out one particular city/state as the data keeps on varying each day. But going by the trends, states like UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been the front runners when it comes to user engagement rate during the last month or so.

Your thoughts, please