Mahesh Bhupathi, one of the most successful Indian tennis players, is looking to replicate his on-field success in the entrepreneurial space. The sportsman-turned-entrepreneur has launched Sports365.in, an e-commerce venture offering sports and fitness goods (you can make that out from the name itself) including sports equipment, accessories, footwear and apparel.
While Bhupathi is the director of the Bangalore-based startup, other top positions are filled by Vishal Gupta (CEO) and Chandra Sekhar (COO). Gupta holds an MS degree from BITS (Pilani) and earlier worked with organisations like Larsen & Toubro, Sasken and Telsima. He also promoted startups such as Sloka Technologies and Maverick Wireless in the past. Chandra Sekhar had earlier worked with firms like P&G and McKinsey & Co., and holds an MBA from IIM Lucknow.
What the site offers
The homepage is divided into two basic sections which offer the best-selling products and the hot deals. There is also a top deal section that only offers one deal at a time. Users also have the option to compare two or more products. But as of now, you can only order online (no phone-in facility is up yet) and the site's logistics partners include Blue Dart, First Flight Couriers, Aramex and FedEx.
Right now, there are eight categories available on the site (and these are further divided into sub-categories) including racquet sports, team sports, fitness, footwear, junior, golf and outdoor, leisure and apparel. The site claims to have over 8,000 products from brands like Adidas, Dunlop, Head, Kookaburra, Nike, SG, Wilson and GM, among others. However, when we tried to access some of the categories, we were greeted with a 'coming soon' message.
The company accepts institutional and bulk orders for sports equipment & accessories and it is also open to sponsoring sporting events (an effective way of self-promotion) â€“ be it gully cricket (neighbourhood level sports), club/corporate competition or school/college league level meet.
Sport stars or businessmen?
But this is not the first time when a sports icon has ventured into the e-commerce space. Cricketer Yuvraj Singh has invested in Exclusively.in while his team-mate Zaheer Khan has invested in Exclusively.in's new label Sher Singh.
Even celebrities are not far behind. Bollywood actor Salman Khan invested an undisclosed amount in Gurgaon-based online travel company Yatra.com while Karisma Kapoor funded BabyOye.com, a baby products site. Both Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgan invested in Ticketplease, an online ticketing site. Other celebrity investors are Shilpa Shetty (GroupHomeBuyers.com, a home-buying site) and Vatsal Seth (Celebwears.com, an online store selling customised wardrobe and celebrity clothes). Actress Neha Dhupia actually launched her own e-commerce site called HerStyle.in that sells women's apparel, fragrances and personal care products.
Competition on the cards
The site will primarily face competition from Healthkart.com that offers sports and fitness equipment, in addition to beauty products, nutrition products, supplements & parenting products and eye care products, among others. Probably Sports365 can take a cue from Healthkart and also add nutrition and supplements (if not parenting and other categories) to its portfolio to gain good traction.
Earlier, Snapdeal had acquired sports and fitness equipment startup eSportsBuy, only to quietly shut it down, but not before officially launching a sports section on its own portal.