Today we will be talking about unicorn startups. As fascinating as the name sounds, the tag unicorn to a startup is a very prestigious one. We all know that the startups go through various rounds of funding, and with every round, the value of the startup in the market increases. When the value of the startup reaches USD 1 billion, it is then referred to as the “Unicorn Startup”. The term Unicron Startup was started in 2013 by Aileen Lee, who is a venture capitalist and a founder of Cowboy Ventures. As of September 2021, there are more than 800 unicorn startups operating. Some of the popular unicorns which have become the giant companies are- Facebook, Google, Airbnb, and many others. According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India has more than 100 unicorns, with the pandemic period, which was the year 2020 saw th rise of 13 new unicorns.
One of the strikening features of the unicorns which have come up during the lockdown and the COVID 19 period, is that they all were in a way related to technology. This somewhat has proved, that now to grow and develop in this unpredictable world, where nothing is certain, the business or the startup needs to have a technological platform. Many startups have turned into unicorns like- Grofers, Nykaa, upGrad, BharatPe, MindTickle, Cars24, BlackBuck, Zeta, and many more.
The latest unicorn to be entered in the unicorn list is Mobile Premier League (MPL). The startup as announced on September 15,2021, has raised a funding of USD 150 million. This round of funding was led by a UAE based investment firm, Legatum Capital. The other participants of the round of funding were the existing investors- Sequoia Capital India, SIG, RTP Global, Go Ventures, Moore Strategic Ventures, Play Ventures, Base Partners, Telstra Ventures, and Founders Circle Capital. Post this round of funding, the value of the startup has increased 2.5 times as compared to the previous round of funding, and ended up being valued at USD 2.5 billion.
The startup plans to use the funds raised to reach a large scale in the United States of America, to increase its user base in Indonesia, since this country provides the startup with the million monthly paying customers. It even plans to invest a portion of funds in original gaming content as well as to hire and recruit more talent.
The last valuation of the startup before this round of funding was USD 945 million. It was valued in the Series D round of funding, which was closed in February 2021.
About the newly formed unicorn
Founded in 2018 by Sai Srinivas Kiran G and Shubh Malhotra, Mobile Premier League is Indias’s largest mobile e-sports platform. The startup claims to take the love customers had for mobile gaming and gave it an interesting twist. The startup aims to keep the gaming experience of the customers high and provides a variety of tournaments and 1v1 battle around the clock. It gives attractive rewards to the winners of the games in the form of cash. After the announcement of the result, the winners can immediately cash out their prizes through Paytm, UPI or Bank transfer. For around 70 games on its platform, the startup collaborates with the third party developers.
The website of the startup also brings in all the infornation and the updates related to cricket and football. The website has the blogs related to Fantasy Football, Fantasy Cricket, IPL, Poker, Rummy, and Fantasy Basketball. A lot of time and effort is spent on the research, to make sure that the readers get an accurate and correct information and insights about the history of the players, major clashes between the teams, achievements, and more.
One of the interesting features in the website of the startup is the “Match Prediction”. With the number of T20 tournaments happening, there has now been a craze among the fantasy players for the prediction of the match. The prediction is all about analyzing the many factors which are related to the teams and the players who are playing the particular match and making a prediction as to which team will win the cricket match. The several factors taken into consideration for prediction are-
Team Rankings, Team Statistics, Player Performance Statistics, Pitch Condition, Weather Condition, Recent performance of the players, Home Advantage, and Team News.
The Bengaluru based startup in July 2021, had entered the US market with an aim to capture the largest mobile gaming markets. The vision of the startup in the US market was tp become a “super app”- a single gaming platform with multiple offerings. The startup has become the 26th one to become a unicorn and the second online gaming company to join the club, after Dream 11. The startup has been in the future top 10 unicorn list which was published by Hurun India.
The startup, in April 2019, has bought a New-Delhi based esports broadcasting company, GamingMonk. It is engaged in running sports events across many platforms like PC, console, and Mobile. The amount for which it has been bought is not disclosed. The startups’s sports merchandising brand MPL Sports, has taken over from Nike, a global sports brand, as the official kit sponsor and merchandise partner of the national cricket men’s and women’s teams,and the U-19 team.
The startup is in direct competition with Dream11, My11Circle, Ballebazzi, and Nazara’s Halaplay. According to the claims made by the startup, it has more than 80 million users, out of which 10 million users are paying subscribers. It has the aim of having 300,000 members and USD 100 million in its Gross Merchandise Value by the end of the year, 2021.
About the founders
Sai Srinivas Kiran G, an IIT Kanpur graduate, is the co-founder and the CEO of the Mobile Premier League. He has also been the co-founder and the CEO of Base9 web services and entertainment pvt ltd. He has also been the product manager, developer, and analyst of U2opia Mobile, and the Associate Product Manager of Zynga. He has also co-founded CREO Tech, which has been acquired by Hike Messenger.
Shubh Malhotra, is the co-founder of the Mobile Premier League. He is an alumnus of Birla Institite of Technology and Science, Pilani. He has alo been the co-founder and CTO of CREO Tech. He has also worked as a product manager in Capillary Technologies.
What has been said about the deal?
Sai Srinivas Kiran G, co-founder and CEO of the startup made a statement saying that this investment shows the potential of the gaming market and the esports industry in the country. He further said the success of the startup in India and Indonesia, motivated them to launch themselves in the U.S. He said that the operations in the US market, which is the largest gaming market in the world, are in a good shape, and the startup is working to be the esports and the gaming hub of the world.
The CEO of the Legatum Capital, Mark Stoleson, who has now joined the board of the startup, said that the investment of the company in the MPL shows that strategy of the company is to invest in world-class team building world-scale companies that define categories and serve customers with integrity.
The startup has become really popular in the COVID 19 lockdown when its activity base increased to 3-3.5 times. We wish it nothing but good luck and a bright future.
Edited by- Simerleen Kaur.