In part 1 of this series, our partners at Bullpen caught up with Sportwalk’s Abhranil Roy to get some insights into his company and their work in the Indian sport industry. Read it here.
In part 2 of our series on Sportwalk with Bullpen, we chat to Abhranil Roy, Digital Media Lead, about how the startup is reaching new heights and changing how fans engage with sports across India.
Zushan Hashmi: Tell me a little bit about the foundations of Sportwalk. Where the idea came from, and how long you have been active as an organization?
Abhranil Roy: Sportwalk initially started off as a sports blog, but over the course of time, we realized there was a gaping hole in several sectors of the sports industry in India that we could address with our expertise.
That is why we segmented into different dimensions: merchandising, marketing, content and media. As we grow, we combine all of these segments for our clients to help them engage, build and market their products or services in a better manner.
I have been involved with Sportwalk since 2015 when we were just a sports blog. As an organization, we have existed since 2017 and only recently, we completed 3 years in existence. Based out of Chennai, this year we have also opened another office in Kolkata.
Who are some of the key individuals at Sportwalk?
Sportwalk is run on a day to day basis by Divakar KS, the CEO and myself as the digital media lead. We are also the directors and the core team of the organization.
Apart from us, we have Sai Prasanth and Vigneshwaran who are our social media executives. Giridharan is our video editor, and he has been with us since Day 1. Our design team consists of Adithyan, Bhagathraj and Chandru while we have hired some more freelancers recently to help manage our wide range of portfolios.
There are a wide array of things that Sportwalk does, from merchandising to social media management, tell me about that?
As I mentioned previously, Sportwalk is focused on providing the best possible experience for sports’ fans, brands and franchises.
To that end, we have produced our own merchandise (co-branded with fan clubs or for our e-commerce platforms), worked with teams from the Tamil Nadu Premier League, developed India’s first sports-based graphic novels, organized our own sports’ fan meetups (called Huddle) and sports’ fan fest (called Highlights), and helped an array of sports brands and fantasy gaming platforms reach out and engage with our audience on our 2.5 million strong digital audiences.
We have also worked as media partners with franchises like Chennai Spartans (from the Pro Volleyball League) and are currently associated as the official creative and marketing agency for The Bharat Army, Team India’s official supporters’ club.
Currently, we are in talks with Star Sports and several clubs from the Indian Super League to associate with them as a part of various digital engagement opportunities.
You’re obviously working with several big clients in the B2B space, particularly supporters’ clubs, why have you decided to take this direction with Sportwalk?
As a budding sports startup, we quickly realized that the passion for sports in India is unmatched and the fan clubs and supporters’ group are doing unmatched work in helping the fans connect with their clubs/franchises. Our very first project with Arsenal Chennai way back in 2016 helped us realize there was no one focused on helping these associations scale and so we doubled down on this segment.
However, we are definitely not limited to the B2B space only. We operate on a B2C basis as well, be it with our co-branded products (we have created products in association with Chelsea India, Rahul Dravid’s’ Fan Club, Bharat Army) and products for our own e-commerce platform.
You run the Digital media side of things, which as discussed, is a key sector of the business, what are some of the daily challenges that you face at Sportwalk?
The digital aspect of things is obviously key to Sportwalk because we pride ourselves as being one of the best in that space in India right now. My key challenges include the running and sustained growth of our 20+ platforms and find new and fresh content ideas to keep our audience engaged.
Another significant challenge is coming up with effective campaigns for brands to ensure they get the best results. Since we have worked with fantasy platforms (Fanfight and Ballebaazi) to sports quiz apps (Quizwars), it has been both exciting and exhilarating to create marketing campaigns that ensure our audience find them relevant and the brands receive the best ROI feasible.
In fact, we are just coming off a campaign for Twelfth Man, India’s #1 football fantasy platform who have signed the great Sunil Chhetri for the role of their brand ambassador and their campaign has received over 50,000 video views on our football-focused handles.
And what have been some of your main successes in this role?
I am not a fan of resting on my laurels at all, and I strongly believe the work I get to do is because I am an extremely fortunate person who gets to do something he loves dearly. One of my biggest successes would definitely be developing the audience that we have now, along with the rest of my team, of course.
Another success that I would like to share is the phenomenal growth we have achieved for The Bharat Army. Over the last year, we have managed to grow their audience over 4 folds – from 90,000 followers on Instagram to 400,000+ now.
The Twitter handle has also doubled in size and our association has seen us grow strength to strength on a regular basis. I look forward to ideating and executing more campaigns for The Bharat Army as we prepare for 2021: the year of 2 Cricket World Cups!
To read part 1 of this article by Bullpen, click here.
You can follow Sportwalk on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and Abhranil Roy can be found on Twitter and Instagram.
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