The origin of football in India can be traced back to mid-nineteenth century when the game was introduced by British soldiers. At one point of time, it was the national sport of India, played by the teams of the Indian Army. Gradually, clubs were soon established around the country. Several football clubs like Calcutta FC, Sovabazar, Mohun Bagan and Aryan Club were set up in Calcutta around the 1890s. Calcutta, the then capital of British India, soon became the hub of Indian football.
Co-founded by Pranesh K. and Rohit Narayan in June 2014, Pune-based The Football Mind (TFM) C/o Protégé Sports Networks Pvt. Ltd is a networking and communication portal for football enthusiasts. The platform has been created with a vision to address the information gap regarding the sport by bringing football clubs, academies, players, coaches, associations and fans onto a single platform.
Each entity gets a unique web page with various features available to connect and grow your following through fan groups, fan/player/coach blogs, displaying achievements, connecting and communicating with your team players and coaches through easy communication channels, managing activities of various entities under associations/academies/clubs over vast geographical regions and many more.
“The World is becoming a smaller place through the internet, we need to use its power effectively to develop networking and communication. We applied this thinking to football and that’s precisely what our concept is about.”-Founders
Talking about the conception of this idea, the founders maintained, “Our goal was to create awareness and engage the masses associated with the game across the nation. Glorification of football in India is what this nation longed for and we wanted help in being the catalyst in achieving that.”
The founders who are ardent lovers of the game, foresaw its acceptance in the Indian market and the business potential. “We wanted to introduce the audiences with a professional networking platform which will spur the ever-growing engagement in the game”.
They added, ‘We wanted all entities of the game to come together and speak their “minds” at a single platform. We wanted to help them with all their off- pitch activities to increase the popularity of the game. Hence, the name “The Football Mind” came into existence.”
Some of the key services which the startup provides to football entities are end to end club management system, eCommerce for football related merchandise, content and social media solutions. It has also made hosting football tournaments easy by introducing a unique tournament feature where people can manage their tournaments and competitions and save all their match data on the cloud. Plug and play ticketing solutions for games, tournaments leagues (both regional and national level).
Further, the company is coming up with a wearable device for hobby and semi-professional players from which they can track their progress and gain player tracking data.
Problems Catered to by Football Minds
As stated by the founders, Indian football lacks effective networking and communication. There is a general lack of an organized medium for football entities to get together for various activities. Issues such as lack of communication between clubs and fans for community building, lack of knowledge of fans about local football events to support local teams and players, player talent loss due to non-availability of a platform to display talent and achievements, difficulties for football associations to manage and organize clubs in their region and track progress, etc are common in the country. This is where the role of The Football Mind come into play.
The founders believe, with over 85 million football viewers in India itself, there is a large potential for football growth and being football enthusiasts.
“Currently we don’t have any competitors in India but foreign firms like Teamstuff and Teamsnap provide some of the features which we already have on our portal,” maintain the founders.
The venture has a fan following of 150,000 on Facebook and other social media platforms like Twitter, Quora and Instagram. It has more than 5000+ fans and players already registered on its portal. “After getting on board all the clubs in Pune, we increased our reach to all of Maharashtra and have registered more than 600 Clubs who have their own independent profiles on TFM” state the founders.
Apart from football clubs, the company has also been successful in getting on board 200+ Football Academies. Also, more than 50 Legal bodies and district associations have boarded the Football Mind train.
The company has partnered with the official Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC supporter groups in India. Some of its clients include Mumbai FC, Western India football Association and Goa Football Association, among others.
Currently, the venture is funded by its partners. The company however, is also pitching to other investors.
The company has a portfolio of products and services that it provides to football entities in order to help them manage, communicate and network. These services are subscription based.
The Football Mind provides various advanced features like TFM Tournament for tracking and managing football tournaments, TFM Memberships for clubs/academies to manage memberships, TFM Ticketing – online ticketing for clubs, TFM Training Module – for managing training activities for multiple teams involving many players and coaches, TFM Transfers for tournament player and team management, TFM Marketplace – an online market for football merchandise from various vendors, TFM Drill – Player analysis wearable technology for tracking on-field player performance and injury prevention, and more in the pipeline. These, along with content streaming and advertising are the channels of revenue generation, the company is currently tapping.
Given the fact that the company is operating only in the football industry and its target audience are fans, football legal bodies and clubs across the nation, there is a large data-base target audience coupled with immense potential for its product’s acceptance, believes the team.
There is more than 85 million viewership of the game and still growing at an aggressive pace. Apart from this, there are more than 25000 professional clubs, 30000 coaches and thousands of football academies. Hence, the market opportunity is clearly huge.
Future Plans and Growth Strategies
After getting on board Western India football Association, Goa Football Association and all the clubs, legal bodies under these, the company is looking forward to extend our reach to other states. “We plan to expand into Europe, rest of Asia, Africa, North and South America.
We are looking for investors who will not only bring in the funds to strengthen our technology and marketing, but also bring in a network and mentoring that can help us take our products to international markets. We hope to be able to cover strategic locations of the Indian market in the next 12 months while simultaneously breaking into international markets where these products are needed”, added the founders.