Dream11, Unacademy, Cred, PayTM: The Indian start-ups in IPL

New IPL sponsorship names have emerged which are all Indian start-ups benefiting from big advertisers holding back.


Indian start-ups are doing very well. That’s what we can glean from their unhindered sports sponsorships. The start-up category that has been the most enthusiastic last season include EdTech and gaming. The exposure that start-ups can get from IPL is practically unmatched in the country owing to the league’s frenzied viewership.

Start-ups are not holding back or hesitating from investing in the IPL, now that they have a clear avenue for advertising in the richest cricket league of the world without big advertisers getting in the way. ‘Upstox’, a Digital Stock Brokerage company has joined the 50-crore annual sponsors club for 2021 which includes Dream11, Unacademy, Cred, and PayTM. 

Start-ups who haven’t already familiarised their name in the market are now viewing the IPL as a platform which will propel them forward. Industry categories are evolving as new-age start-ups are coming up with innovative ideas. Fantasy gaming, Fintech and EdTech start-ups are some of the categories specifically interested in sports sponsorships and advertising. 

More noteworthy start-ups that have associated their names with the IPL bandwagon this year include ‘PolicyBazaar’, a FinTech company, ‘Pro Kabbadi League’ another sporting league, and NetMeds, an e-pharmacy start-up.

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Start-ups are not holding back or hesitating from investing in the IPL, now that they have a clear avenue for advertising in the richest cricket league of the world without big advertisers getting in the way.

Franchise sponsorship start-ups

Unique start-ups that are sponsoring the teams included ‘EUME’, a lifestyle company which is the ‘official mask sponsor’ for two of the franchise teams. ‘Boat’ is a consumer electronics and lifestyle company which is a merchandising sponsor. The next interesting start-up name is ‘iB Cricket’, a VR online gaming start-up which is sponsoring a team. 

But that’s not all. There are 2 more interesting names in the start-up club; ‘Fancode’ a digital sports portal which is jumping aboard as merchandising partner along with ‘SouledStore’ a ‘pop culture’ e-commerce company which will be taking on the responsibility of merchandising for the teams, something it does best. 

Is it wise for Start-ups to leap in?

There have been several concerns on whether it’s logical for start-ups who are already surviving on small cash reserves to splurge on IPL sponsorships without careful decision making. Out of the cluster of sponsoring companies during the IPL 2020, 2/3rd of the space was occupied by start-ups. 

Start-ups like ‘Niine’ made waves during the 2020 IPL because apparently male players of the Rajasthan Royals fraternity with the brand name of a relatively new ‘sanitary napkin’ company on their chest was a novelty few could comprehend. 

This move has enabled Niine to rope in 40 lakh worth of distributor investments and the traction gained has been immense. There are many such examples to cite. 

Another similar success story has occurred for ‘Medi-Buddy’, a digital healthcare start-up which managed to reach over 25000 patients through IPL.

What’s in it for me?

Last year was a serious game changer for start-ups and the IPL. The arena is looking bright this year as well. Apart from the 6 major start-up sponsors in the IPL 2020 including Dream11, Unacademy, Cred, and PayTM, 65% of the sponsoring partners were start-ups who belonged to a multitude of industries including FMCG, automotive, and electronics. 

Although start-ups are on an IPL investing spree, the fact of the matter is that sponsorship fees are still on an all-time high. And it’s up to start-ups whether they are willing to risk their capital for high quality publicity, exposure, and large-scale brand awareness. 

Even with Covid, the sponsorship market has only managed to suffer a 10% fluctuation compared to past seasons. 

IPL is a large-scale media advertising opportunity and one that’s unmatched in the visibility it provides. Start-ups who have successfully gained traction through IPL sponsorship can vouch for it being worth every penny of the hundreds of crores paid in sponsorship fees. 

However, it’s up to the start-up owners to decide if the risk is worth it and to formulate a plan of action to retain the audience and customers captured from IPL. 

Anju Nambiar
Anju Nambiar
Anju has 5 years of experience covering business. She writes on startups, business life cycle and startup ecosystem. Her stints include Amazon and Adjetter Media Network.

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