Link Copied
With a $2 million funding from Sachin Tendulkar, Rajan Navani of digital entertainment and tech company JetSynthesys shares the roadmap ahead
Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, JetSynthesys and Sachin TendulkarJetSynthesys
JetSynthesys will use the funding to strengthen its existing catalogue of products and platforms under its gaming verti...
media

With a $2 million funding from Sachin Tendulkar, Rajan Navani of digital entertainment and tech company JetSynthesys shares the roadmap ahead

JetSynthesys will use the funding to strengthen its existing catalogue of products and platforms under its gaming verti...
  • Sachin Tendulkar has invested $2 million in JetSynthesys, a digital entertainment and technology company.
  • JetSynthesys which also co-founded of e-sports company, Nodwin Gaming. Apart from Tendulkar, the company is also backed by former Infosys chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan and Adar Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India and the family offices of the promoters of Thermax, Triveni Group, Yohan Poonawalla Group and DSP Group.
  • We spoke to Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, JetSynthesys,who talks to us about the company’s journey so far, what the funding means for it, and its future strategies to grow further.
Former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has invested $2 million in JetSynthesys, a digital entertainment and technology company. Tendulkar already had a joint venture for a digital destination for cricket, 100MB, and cricket games Sachin Saga Cricket Champions and Sachin Saga VR.

JetSynthesys has a catalogue of over 300 games across HTML, Java, Android and iOS platforms spanning across multiple segments. In India, the company has created several celebrity games. It is also known for developing mobile games with high fidelity and network play and for its global publishing partnerships with the likes of WWE (WWE Racing Showdown), Square Enix (Ludo Zenith), and Sony (for Hollywood film Passenger). JetSynthesys is also the co-founder of e-sports company, Nodwin Gaming. Apart from Tendulkar, the company is also backed by former Infosys chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan and Adar Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India. It is also backed by the family offices of the promoters of Thermax, Triveni Group, Yohan Poonawalla Group and DSP Group.

We recently caught up with Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, JetSynthesys,who spoke to us about the company’s journey so far, what the funding means for it, and its future strategies to grow further.

Excerpts:

Q) You have just secured a fresh round of funding of $2 million from Sachin Tendulkar. What is it about JetSynthesys that has attracted investors from such diverse backgrounds?
Investors back two things – executable ideas and people. JetSynthesys has both. Since our inception, we’ve successfully managed to rally a known coterie of names (Adar Poonawalla, Kris Gopalakrishnan, and promoters of Thermax, Triveni Group, Yohan Poonawalla Group and DSP Group) on the power of our vision. We also work hard to bring world class talent to the organization and I’d credit our success to the strength of the workforce. Our investors have seen this potential and the fact that we’ve covered so much ground in such a short span of time as a company is a testament to the dedication we collectively have which further bolsters their belief in us. Over the past five years, Sachin and Jetsynthesys have built products and platforms together keeping gamers at the heart of our strategy. This investment gives him a stake in the overall JetSynthesys story and it’s great to have him as part of this journey as we build a global new age digital entertainment and technology platform. When this association began, the aim was to provide an authentic gaming experience for cricket lovers across the globe; together we are looking to diversify that purview to include more cross category digital products and platforms.

Q) What kind of growth have you been witnessing? What have your areas of focus been so far?
Our gaming vertical has witnessed maximum growth since inception and the pandemic provided an even sharper upswing than before. JetSynthesys saw growth both in terms of consumption and monetization, and the overall player engagement has had a 40% to 150% boost, depending on the particular game in question. We witnessed a surge of monetization through inventory. The downloads also grew by 100-200% depending on what we had planned and player engagement improved from the previous average of 30-45 minutes a day to 50-55 minutes a day. For JetSynthesys, the plan that we had for the next 18 months got realized in a period of 6 months. Overall, the lockdown has been really good for us. Mindfulness, vernacular music, video content verticals have also seen 40-80% growth.

Q)With this latest round of investment, what will your key focus be on to further strengthen your position in the market?
Cricket is a celebrated sport that is entrenched within the DNA of Indians. In fact, its popularity and following is mirrored in the cricket skill-based gaming category. It has always been a strong focus area for us, and through this investment, we aim to strengthen our existing catalogue of products and platforms under our gaming vertical. Our capabilities will further build consumer love for brand Sachin and these funds will help us expand our roster of partnerships to other known names as well.

Q) India is witnessing a boom in e-gaming. What do you think is the potential? Are we there yet, in terms of our talent pool, if not, where do we lack?
For India, the gaming market is a sub-billion in a $170 billion industry. So the catch-up for India is massive. We have 13% of the world’s downloads on mobile and the mobile industry is the fastest growing platform. I look at a CAGR of 40-50% annually. Today, there are more global gaming studios that are using Indian talent and the nation becoming a part of the global supply chain in the gaming industry is another interesting format.

We saw gaming go from casual to professional and also identified the early opportunity in esports as a key pillar of the gaming ecosystem in India when we co-founded Nodwin Gaming. As a category, esports has a bright future. Today, esports gamers have a major impact on gamers’ spending habits with 67% influenced by what influencers eat, 34% by what influencers wear and 18% by listening to music recommended by influencers. It is expected that Indian esports would be playing a key role in the global market by 2023.

From the government standpoint, I have had extensive discussions with the commerce as well as the IT ministries. With the respective ministries, we have been vocal about the needs and potential to create livelihoods for young professionals through gaming. I think gaming brings a diverse set of talent pools ranging from engineering and art to animation and visualization. There are tons of pools required as we see this space growing even in terms of advanced technologies like AR or VR. These will all be the key drivers to bring in new types of talent needed for the gaming industry in India and globally.

Investing in training infrastructure for this talent pool as well as incentivizing the industry in terms of building more infrastructure in similar lines to what Telangana has been doing – creating technology parks specifically for gaming and animation is required. I am seeing governments both at the state level and national level looking at this opportunity extensively. Being involved with Prime Minister Modi's vision of the new India of 2022, I think I have seen closely how this USD 1 trillion of the new age business economy will be shaping.

Soon the government investments and incentives will flourish for the gaming sector, increasing large-scale mobilization of resources. The trillion dollars in that USD 5 trillion global economy will be from gaming and esports. The gaming industry will contribute massively to the global economy soon, hence growing the global pie.

Q) What are a few hurdles for the gaming industry in India?
With a strong presence beyond Tier I cities, online gaming needs Indian publishers for relevant and localized marketing that keeps diverse players engaged even through changing trends. Moreover, the Indian gaming population is growing but is fragmented, making distribution a challenge. Additionally, although the average revenue per paying user (ARPU) is increasing, it is far behind that of other countries. This has also led to limited institutional capital being deployed so far. The last five years have seen tremendous growth, primarily in casual gaming and real money gaming. With gamers maturing, ARPUs improving through microtransactions, and gaming companies getting exits, the industry is coming of age. The next phase of growth is expected from midcore/hardcore games.

Also, while the Covid-19 induced lockdown was a major shot in the arm for the gaming industry, with so much digital action going on, most companies realized that the lack of discovery was becoming the initial challenge. At some point, the ability to grab the attention of a user became a bit more expensive.

Even though we have an established gaming studio looking to expand and grow, the talent crunch at the India level is there. There is a dearth of a high-quality talent pool in India. The Indian companies haven't created that much success globally especially in some areas like engineering. We might be good at creatives but when it comes to game design, we lack to deliver deeper products. Being able to build products that can generate several hundred million dollars of revenue a year is still a dream.

Another challenge is the significant gap between the way our user is monetised in India and other established global markets. The dependence on a few advertising revenues compared to in-app purchases being higher in countries like India is required. Being a frugal market when it comes to being able to demonstrate value, India still gives high levels of performance. Nobody pushes the price-performance curve as an Indian consumer does, that is what makes us competitive. We can continue to deliver greater performance at a lower price thus becoming super competitive. Hence, I believe in India. We will be able to take new models to the world, take new performance measures, and do at a better price point like has been done in so many other industries.

On the upside, the industry today has more opportunities than challenges and our early mover advantage has held us in good stead. One of the things that we have identified in the mobile gaming aspect is the element of ‘disruption’ which we have gone through in these years. This disruption has helped the mobile ecosystem evolve in this state wherein today mobile gaming is the biggest source of revenue generation. When we look at the Indian market, the biggest challenge is monetization. Retention is also another challenge among users, since we identify heavier games as being an issue when it comes to retention amongst gamers. These are the challenges we need to address on our side. New monetization models are evolving in the market. We have to adapt to the new evolution that is happening across in terms of monetization like the Real Money Gaming aspect.

Q) Where will JetSynthesys' next phase of growth come from?
Not only do we want to be India’s largest digital entertainment and technology company, but we are also pushing ourselves to play the leadership role globally. We understand the role of responsibility in digital, and our goal is to strengthen the trust that we build between JetSynthesys, our consumers, and our gamers. We try to go through all of our products and figure out what is “Gaming for Good” and what is “Digital for Good.” How we can shape and define that in the future is something that excites me.

So besides the economic and financial good of the company, building a great company on the right values in an emerging sector, particularly for India, is something that takes greater precedence. Figuring out a way to do this excites us at JetSynthesys and unites us as a team. I am personally looking forward to seeing what the next 5 years hold for us.

Also, looking at esports now as entertainment and the new ways of sports entertainment which is emerging- with people watching streamers rather than playing or witnessing the physical sport, is an area that we are very excited about and where we think that we will again strengthen our positioning as we move forward.