This 7-month old startup has $35.5 million funding from Sequoia and Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador

Virat Kohli's ad campaign for MPL
  • In an interview with Business Insider, co-founder of Mobile Premier League Sai Srinivas Kiran G. talks about how they raked up 20 million users in just 7 months.
  • The platform has raised a series A funding from Sequoia India, Times Internet, and GoVentures, along with participation from existing investors.
  • Virat Kohli is the brand ambassador of the platform.
Mobile Premier League, the gaming startup, has raised a series A funding of $35.5 million led by Sequoia India, Times Internet, and GoVentures. And what’s more, the just 7-month old startup also has Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador.

In August 2017, Sai Srinivas Kiran G. and Shubham Malhotra started the gaming platform when they realised three things they call the “holy trinity of the internet” – the price of data today is almost zero, the price of a device is extremely cheap and the third but the biggest factor, people now have an accessible and very convenient method for payments.

“That’s when we thought why can’t we build a platform where people come together, pick a game of their choice and compete in tournaments across the country and hopefully one day, across the world. That’s how the Mobile Premier League came about,” Sai told Business Insider.

MPL is a horizontal mobile eSports platform where every day about 25-30 online gaming tournaments are held. Every day for some of their tournaments, 150,000 to 300,000 are competing to win, said Sai.

While MPL doesn’t develop the games themselves, it works with third-party developers and then publishes the game on the platform. “The platform today is not mature enough to be open for all developers, but the eventual goal is to make it a platform where any developer can create and then publish a game for all users,” said Sai.

However, it also has a large competitor in the fantasy gaming space – Dream11, the gaming unicorn which already has MS Dhoni as its ambassador. Dream11 has over 50 million users and aims to have 100 million by the end of the year.

And Sai, too, rightfully credits Dream11 to have built the fantasy gaming industry in India. But, the horizontal Indian online gaming industry today has over 200 million users and the numbers are expected to grow to 50 million by 2022. MPL too hopes to have a piece of that cake.

“In just 7 months, we have had great traction as we already have about 25 million users,” he said.

Helping them in their quest for growth, is Virat Kohli. Kohli’s appointment as a brand ambassador was strategic – to help introduce the brand to the millions of people who know and follow the cricketer. While Kohli too saw potential in the product to sign it up, Sai said “there was a little bit of luck mixed into the whole thing.”

When it comes to funding, Sai and Malhotra are actually one of Sequoia’s favourites. Their previous startup was Creo, which built the streaming media dongles called Teewee, was also funded by Sequoia. Creo was acquired by Hike last year.

Their current funding will help them grow faster by hiring the right talent to build out their product infrastructure and build not just an India centric product but a global one. They are currently making revenue from paid tournaments, sponsored tournaments, and advertising. However, Sai says that being so new in the gamef, their focus remains on user growth.

See Also:
It’s Virat Kohli Vs MS Dhoni in the Indian e-gaming space
Dream11 becomes India’s first gaming unicorn
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