Sachin Tendulkar. File Photo
Indian cricketers have been the face of numerous brands over the years. But with the startup culture flourishing in this country, it is just another pitch for many retired players to show their talent with all that they have — brand value, marketing power and even money — in their second innings of life.
The legendary Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, has already scored a big success off the cricket field to encouraging entrepreneurship and investing in a number of startups — from Internet of Things (IoT) company Smartron to fashion firm Universal Sportsbiz to travel firm Musafir to sports entertainment company Smaaash and sports investment firm FidelisWorld.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket, Sachin retired in October 2013 after playing his 200th Test match against the West Indies in his home town Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. It was a 24-year-long stint since his Test debut in November 1989 against arch-rival Pakistan in Karachi at the age of 16.
Sachin was also conferred India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 2014 by then President Pranab Mukherjee. And since his retirement, ‘The God of Cricket’ who captained India twice during his career, has garnered fans in the startup community also — playing the role of an ideal civilian mentor to the young minds of India.
In 2016, Sachin invested in Smartron, an IoT company based in the southern city of Bengaluru, known as the Silicon Valley of India. “The first one was on the field playing cricket. The second innings of my life is getting into partnerships with entrepreneurs,” he said at the launch of the first two devices of the startup.
The Little Master has also backed the sports entertainment company Smaaash. Promoted by entrepreneur Shripal Morakhia, the company owns many gaming and entertainment centres, providing virtual reality games, sports, music and many innovative experiences. However, Smaaash has decided to shut shop in the wake of Covid-induced financial losses.
Mauritius-domiciled sports investment firm FidelisWorld is another company where Sachin has invested. The company operates 30 centers across India and has a worldwide presence too in countries like the US,China and the UAE. The private equity firm provides growth capital to successful sports and sports ancillary businesses in Asia and the Middle East.
Sachin, now 47, has also invested in celebrity fashion firm Universal Sportsbiz. Founded in 2012 by former Indian national-level badminton player Anjana Reddy, the company began as an e-tailing platform before starting to sell sports memorabilia. And over the years, Universal Sportsbiz has grown into an omni-channel fashion brand platform.
The former Indian cricketer is also both an investor and the brand ambassador of Sharjah-based internet travel firm Musafir. Over the last few years, the company has expanded into various markets such as India, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The sporting genius also owns a chain of restaurants in Mumbai and Bangalore.
“Many Indian cricketers have played a second innings in their careers by contesting in elections and even becoming Members of Parliament for multiple terms. Sachin also became an MP in the Upper House of Parliament. But his real second innings started with his foray in the world of startups,” Nidhi Chhabra, a sports analyst, told UNB.
Sachin is the highest scorer of all time in International cricket, having more than 30,000 runs in his kitty. He is also the only cricketer in the world to play 200 Tests and score as many as 100 international hundreds. He has amassed 18,426 runs from 463 ODIs at an average of 44.83 and 15,921 runs from 200 Tests.
In 2010, Time magazine included Sachin in its annual Time 100 list as one of the ‘Most Influential People in the World. “Sporting geniuses like Sachin are rare phenomenons and we are privileged to have seen him in action,” then ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, who played for South Africa against the legend in 1990s, said at the latter’s final Test match.
“For 24 years, Sachin has been a symbol of the rise of India as a world power and an economic giant. Now, he is investing in young minds, the future of India,” Nidhi summed up.