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Meet the 5 homegrown gaming startups that are working to win the numbers game

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The first nine months of 2020 saw India rise to the top spot in mobile game downloads worldwide, clocking 7.3 billion downloads and raking in 17 percent of the overall industry’s volume, according to SensorTower. 

In 2021, Indian gaming startups in India raked in investment worth $1.6 billion in the first nine months, surpassing the value of investments in the space in the recent five years, according to a report by investment banking platform Maple Capital Advisors.

There’s much more growth in store. 

A KPMG report states that the Indian online gaming industry, which was worth Rs 4,380 crore in fiscal year 2018, is expected to grow at a 22.1 percent CAGR to Rs 11,880 crore by fiscal year 2023. The growth will continue to be driven by smartphone penetration and internet availability, and the stage is set for a battle royale. 

Here are five homegrown startups that stand out and are vying for user attention: 

Dream11

Founded by sports enthusiasts Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth in 2008, Mumbai-based Dream11 is a pioneer in the fantasy sports segment in India. This application-based platform allows users to play fantasy sports in the categories of cricket, football, kabaddi, basketball, hockey, volleyball, handball, rugby, futsal, American football & baseball.

Dream11 was the first-ever Indian gaming company to join the unicorn club in April 2019. As of November 24, 2021, the platform has a valuation of $8 billion after a new funding round worth $840 million.

The platform currently has 120+ million users, while its parent company Dream Sports has 140 million users.

“We have a deep-rooted passion for the problem that we’re trying to solve, a little bit of stubbornness about not accepting failure, and hopefully learning from all the failures that we continuously have,” Harsh Jain, Co-founder and CEO of Dream11, said in an earlier conversation with YourStory.

“I was just shocked that in a country with a billion sports fans—with today’s 500 million-plus online sports fans and even at that time, there were like over 100 million kinds of online sports fans—there were no fantasy sports at all,” Harsh added.

OneTo11

Noida-based blockchain gaming startup OneTo11 was founded in 2020 by serial tech investors, Ravindra Kumar and Tirath Chand Sharma, Manasvi Singh, and Anirban Chatterjee.

It features a collection of various gaming applications with a unified wallet and native token. The brand leverages technologies like blockchain and NFT exchange to generate monetary value for gamers from next-gen gaming applications.

“We are really excited about the trust and brand value we have been able to generate with the growth of OneTo11 in the last 15 months. Our vision for OneTo11 becoming a global gaming ecosystem is coming to fruition.” Ravindra Kumar, CEO of OneTo11, said in an earlier conversation with YourStory.

The startup claims to have acquired a user base of more than two million registered users and facilitated 18 million transactions in the 15 months since its launch in October 2020. It aims to introduce public sale of their 1TO11 governance token and the NFT commercial centre in the forthcoming months.

OneTo11 plans to add football, volleyball, baseball, and field hockey as dream sports, and has plans to grow in the Middle East, Europe, and American business sectors.

Dangal Games

Founded in 2017 by Varun Mahna, Dangal Games is an online skill-based gaming technology company.  

In January 2021, the Delhi-based startup raised $1 million in a Series A round from an undisclosed strategic investor. It has an active user base of around five to six million users, and aims to grow this user base to 150 million in the next five years.

In an earlier conversation with YourStory, Varun Mahna, Founder and CEO, Dangal Games, said, “The online gaming industry in India is surging like never before. After the pandemic, our whole platform endured an inclining power shot in acquisition and user time spent. We want to use the funds to grow the gaming ecosystem in the country, and enable more gaming tech startups with investments. “

MPL

Mobile Premier League (MPL), a Bengaluru-based startup founded in 2018 by Sai Srinivas Kiran G and Shubham Malhotra, is a e-sports platform that allows users to compete in multiple skill-based mobile gaming tournaments.

The app offers 70+ games and has a user base of more than 90 million in India. It has a presence in over 5,200 cities and towns, with a huge user base in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

In an earlier conversation, MPL Co-founder and CEO Sai Srinivas said, “With the increased consumption of e-sports in the last couple of years and it becoming as competitive as any other sport, it gives us immense pleasure to present our users with the best games to play, and enjoy their passion for gaming.”

In September 2021, the startup raised $150 million in a Series E round from existing investors, including Sequoia, SIG, RTP Global and others. Its overall funding stands at $425.5 million. As of October 2021, the total valuation stands at $2.45 billion.

Fantasy Akhada

Founded in 2020 by Amit Purohit, the Fantasy Akhada platform offers fantasy cricket and fantasy football. Users can play and win exciting contests.

Today, the brand has nearly two million users, has held 12 lakh contests, and claims to have distributed Rs 120 crore in cash winnings.

“Our company’s vision is to focus on sports engagement, and we believe fantasy sports is one of the key levers of sports engagement globally,” says Amit Purohit, Founder and CEO in an earlier conversation with YourStory.


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