Harsh Jain, Co-founder and CEO of Dream11: Fantasy is always better than reality
Dream11.com is on a mission to make you Love Sports More!
April 1st, 2015
The $6 billion fantasy sports industry in the US & Canada has over 41 million users. This means that 1 out of every 6 people in those countries play Fantasy Sports! India, where cricket is often compared to a religion, has a paltry 2 million fantasy cricket users out of a billion cricket fans. Dream11.com is out to make that right.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of playing fantasy cricket, allow me to walk you through it: Fantasy cricket is a strategy game, where users rely on their selection skills to pick their dream team of 11 cricketers (their ‘Dream11′). Based on their cricketers’ real-life performance in the following match, users get points and compete with others to win prizes. Fantasy sports are the ultimate social game; users are driven most by the challenge of proving to all their friends who the best selector really is.
With over 500 cricket games every year, fantasy cricket should be leading the way in the industry, but was almost non-existent ever since ESPN’s Super Selector shut down over 10 years ago. Studying this classic example of the right product at the wrong time, my co-founder Bhavit Sheth and I grabbed the opportunity to launch Dream11.com and fill this void in the industry.
Riding on the popularity of the recently launched IPL, Dream11.com first started out in 2009 as an ad-driven free-to-play fantasy cricket website where users could manage their Dream11 for an entire season/tour. But following the trend of instant gratification for an audience with constantly reducing attention spans, we decided to become the world’s first freemium daily fantasy cricket website in 2012. This switch is when Dream11.com really took off. Our users could still enjoy the whole experience of registering, creating their fantasy cricket team and playing in leagues completely for free, but they now had to use their skills to win cash leagues.
Today, Dream11.com has over 500,000 users and is the world’s largest daily fantasy cricket platform. Not only do users come to Dream11.com to play fantasy cricket, and more recently fantasy football (soccer), they also access our game across multiple partner websites including the likes of Yahoo & Cricbuzz. Along with taking the first steps towards global expansion with a US office, we’ve also launched our mobile responsive design, so that our users could continue following their teams’ performance while watching the match on the go.
Fantasy sports, which are exempt as a game of skill in the US as per the UIGEA 2006, have increased sports viewership by 40%. This has led to the NBA, MLB and NHL exclusively typing up with daily fantasy sports operators, as well as gotten the NFL to invest heavily in promoting fantasy football. The daily fantasy sports industry in the US & Canada alone is estimated to grow from $1B in 2014 to a staggering $17B by 2020.
At Dream11.com, we focus on converting passive cricket & football viewers to active participants in their game by playing fantasy sports. It doesn’t matter which team wins or loses – now every time any player hits a 4/6, gets a wicket, scores a goal or keeps a clean sheet, you get a chance to prove how well you really know your sport.
Co-founder and CEO of Dream11, Harsh Jain is an ardent sports fan and gamer. Having led the acquisition of his other start-up Red Digital, a social media agency, he is now leading his dream venture from the front.