'We want to be India's biggest platform to scout sports talent through the power of videos and data' - Mr. Sidhhant Agarwal, SportVot founder

Mr. Sidhhant Agarwal, founder, SportVot
Mr. Sidhhant Agarwal, founder, SportVot

Scouting talent has, since the beginning of time, been based on guts, feelings, and instincts. Now, through technological precision, scouts have an entire sheet of information about how fast an athlete can run, how high they can jump, and how accurate their passing is.

SportVot is India’s leading platform for supporting local sporting talent. It is a multi-sport OTT platform with in-depth performance analysis, player profiling, and data solutions for grassroots-level community sports.

To understand more about this space, Sportskeeda caught up with SportVot founder Mr. Sidhhant Agarwal.

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Sidhhant Agarwal on sports broadcasting in India and how SportVot will enable growth of scouting talent across the country

Q. Can you give us an understanding of the services provided by SportVot?

Sidhhant: SportVot gives you the ability to stream and capture matches live through smartphones or professional cameras and to live-score your matches. We have scoring systems setup for 14 different sports. Once registered on the app, the team data and player information is captured, which allows coaches and others to stream the data as and when they like.

The solution automatically adds highlights or key moments of the game to a player's profile. For example, say, Player X hits five sixes in a match. These five sixes will automatically be integrated to Player X’s profile as a highlight package of the game.

While streaming a game, if you like a particular moment, you can clip and share just that moment with anyone. Players can create their own FIFA cards and also just share snapshots of their performance from a particular match.

Q. What is SportsVot's long-term vision? What is going to be a game changer?

Sidhhant: SportVot wants to create a talent pathway for an aspiring athlete or a casual gamer. I’ll give you an example of what SportVot does for an aspiring athlete.

Today, we have over 20,000 Kabaddi athlete profiles and videos on our platform, which they use as their CVs to share with scouts and coaches who are on the lookout for players. A lot of Pro Kabaddi franchises have been looking and enquiring about players that are on our platform. The district federations use data and statistics from our platform to field teams for their state and districts and subsequently select them for the nationals.

SportVot gives you visibility and identity on a digital platform that proves the kind of work you are doing and not relying on a random trial where a selector or scout calls you for 10 minutes and gives you two minutes of playing time. And If you're not able to perform in those two minutes, you’re done. Selection biases, discrepancies, and lack of transparency on how talent is spotted and identified is also something that is eliminated through the usage of data through our app.

The long-term goal is to create a level playing field for all athletes. We already have our own IP, called The Mumbai Kabaddi League, where the top talent on the platform has already gotten an opportunity to represent bigger franchises, earn money as well as get discovered and recruited by a few Pro Kabaddi league teams.

We want to create a holistic digital ecosystem for players, athletes, and other stakeholders. Videos will mean to tell a story, get more visibility and of course make some money as well.

Q. You say SportVot makes streaming easy, cheap, and accessible to the sports ecosystem. Can you elaborate? Who can easily access SportVot?

Sidhhant: You can log on to the SportsVot website or download the app on an Android phone and watch the matches being streamed live. You can follow and subscribe to specific channels. Anyone can create their own channel and upload content of the matches they are playing.

Clubs like Mumbai Ultras, Mumbai Marines, and the Maharashtra state Kabaddi Association have their channels on our platform.

A user just needs to create an account on SportVot and they can immediately start streaming matches through their phone. Users can add live scores, graphics, and player profiles in one bundle and you can broadcast and stream that to your viewers by sending them a link or viewing it through the app.

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Q. How did the idea of SportVot come up? When did you decide this could become a full-time business?

Sidhhant: I have always been a sports fan. It all started in 2002 with the FIFA Football World Cup, which took place in Japan and South Korea. As the tournament was being held in an Asian country, the tournament had favorable timing and good quality coverage. That’s where I understood how sophisticated the sport was and I fell in love with the game.

A few years later, I started playing a game called Football Manager and was extremely fascinated by the data they had. The probabilistic model of players that could be the next Messi or Ronaldo mesmerized me. I remember the game had predicted Marco Verratti to become a star player when he was only 16 years old. That got me extremely curious about data and technology in sports.

The movie Moneyball also had a big impact on me and got me more curious as to how data can be used in sports. I have always been driven by data-driven talent.

I found an interesting video on YouTube - a live stream of a local match, and it was called the Borle Premier League. Borle is a village in Maharashtra. There were about 24,000 views of the match on YouTube and what I saw was people with big cameras, fancy wires, someone holding a laptop in his hand adding scores and steady looking graphics. This is where we realized that whatever we want to do with data collection and aggregation, video can be a good way to source and identify all the information.

This made us realize that video streaming and consumption is on the rise, but sports streaming and broadcasting are difficult. More than 90 percent of matches across the country have no streaming. These reasons led to the birth of SportVot.

Q. How is SportVot the next big thing in talent scouting in India?

Sidhhant: I will answer this question with a couple of stories:

I’ll start with the league – Bramahaputra Volleyball League in Assam is a grassroots league. It is a standout and is organized by Mr. Abhijit Bhattacharya, a former national volleyball player. Across every district in Assam, there is a volleyball team adopted by a group of individuals at a nominal fee. Matches take place in different villages over a period of 3-4 months, and the entire league is run by the people. Mr. Abhijeet had just created the concept and lit the fire, and ever since, the people from that area have fueled the fire.

I have never been to Assam or even helped the kids in that area. Even then, they streamed about 480 matches last year without even having tripod stands. They used bamboo sticks, created their own mobile phone holders and used the SportVot app to stream the entire tournament. We ended up hiring one person from that team in our company. The way they used technology and innovation was just amazing to see. This is by far the best journey I have seen.

The Mumbai Kabaddi League, one of SportVot’s IPs, conducts a league for aspiring Kabaddi athletes across the state. When athletes heard of this league, they realized they had an opportunity to showcase their talents and earn some money as well. We have a lot of players coming out of retirement. They did not retire due to their age, but lacked opportunity and transparency.

During the league, we encountered two athletes aged around 25 years old who had given up all hope of playing Kabaddi professionally. One of the athletes is currently among the top three performers in the women’s category. Ultimately, we have a few athletes from our platform that are part of the Pro Kabaddi league, and that is a major success for us.

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We also have a few footballers who are now placed with Super Division clubs in Mumbai. Videos and data from playing local tournaments got picked up by scouts from these two Super Division clubs and they are now playing MDFA (Mumbai District Football Association) and hopefully the I-League soon.

Q. Can you tell us about some of the brands you have worked with? Any success stories you would like to share with us?

Sidhhant: We work with multiple different brands at different tiers. Sporting bodies, clubs, academies, individual athletes, etcetera.

Barcelona Academy in India; pre-pandemic, they used to stream their intra-academy events, which they are going to start again now. Padukone Sports Management Group; we work with Sherru Classic, who are probably the gold standard in body building in India. Naval Tata Hockey Academy, who hosted the national tournament this year; we were one of the streaming partners for the event.

The leagues worked with include the Rajasthan Basketball League, Mumbai Golf League, and Street Ball League.

Federations include the District Kabaddi Association, Mumbai Football Association, Delhi State Kabaddi, and Maharashtra State Kabaddi.

These are a few of our partnerships with marque customers.

For us, success stories are when our clients come back to us. Touchwood, we have been fortunate that most of our clients come back to us to use our platform and go don’t to any local service provider.

Q. What are the different forms of revenue generation for SportVot?

Sidhhant: The first 10-12 hours are free for any user based on the sport they are streaming. Post that, they are charged anything between 30 and 100 rupees an hour, based on the kind of features required by the user.

It is an end-to-end service for professional and semi-professional leagues where we setup cameras and guide them to ensure a very professional broadcast experience of their leagues.

Monetizing through advertisements and sponsorships is an important form of revenue generation. There are a few other supplementary and complementary items like player participation fees, IPs, etcetera.

Q. Do you believe there are any competitors in the market?

Sidhhant: The future of broadcasting will be through the internet, via OTT and streaming platforms. Traditional or linear broadcasting is not where we are going to end up, so I don’t see that as a competition. The layer at which we are playing is aiding content, video, and data capture at a level that never existed and there is a huge demand for it. So far, I believe we have just scratched the surface as we are only in a few states.

We currently do not see any direct competition in India.There was a company based out of Kerala that was doing the same kind of work pre-pandemic, but I believe that has unfortunately shut down. There are a few companies in the West that do similar work to us.

We do not have a direct one-on-one competition on the Indian landscape. There are a few coming up but currently, they are quite early in their journey. I hope this space grows further, as I believe we alone cannot cover the entire landscape of the country. There is room for at least 5-6 other players to enter this space.

Q. What does the future hold for SportVot?

Sidhhant: We want to be the biggest platform in India to scout sports talent through the power of videos and data.

What Instagram is doing for influencers, Linkedin is doing for professionals, and Twitch is doing for gamers. A sportsperson should aspire to have their profile on SportVot. That is eventually what we want to build.

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