Gaurav Assomull, Founder of BLITZPOOLS, in an exclusive chat with MediaBrief, discusses the new avatar of BLITZPOOLS (formerly LivePools), his expectations from IPL 2021, and how it would give a boost to fantasy gaming platforms. He describes how payment gateway costs are turning out to be a hurdle for Indian esports platforms and shares his views on the need for a regulatory body. Read on.
Tell us about BLITZPOOLS, its offering, and what differentiates it from its competitors?
BLITZPOOLS is an upcoming skill-based fantasy sports platform in India. Established in 2018 as Livepools, in the past two years, the platform has grown to 1.5 million registered users on the back of a solid fantasy gaming product driven by marquee sporting events such as the ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL 2019, and the Ashes. We recently entered into an agreement with i3 Interactive inc. a leading global online and mobile gaming platform that invested a 51% stake in Livepools. Post the investment, it was rebranded to Blitzpools.
Our aim is to focus on fan engagement and continuously drive innovative offerings for the same. Currently, we are looking to give consumers guaranteed best-in-class bonuses, industry-leading deposits, and payout options, and a market-leading product with constant innovation.
The platform also features an exciting coin-based loyalty programme, where users will be rewarded with valuable coins as they increase their engagement on the app. These coins can be redeemed towards gift vouchers, meet & greet sessions, cashback, tickets for on-ground matches, and other exciting offerings.
Further, we’ve onboarded young cricket stars such as Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar, Shreyas Gopal, and Wriddhiman Saha to be the face of the brand and help build a connect with the audience.
Please elaborate on LivePools transition into BLITZPOOLS. What was the goal behind this, and what results have it yielded?
The goal behind this was very simple, the group that has acquired us rebranded it from Livepools to “Blitzpools” and it has now become a completely revamped product, from the app (iOS & Android) and the web version. We are better in terms of our tech currently vis-vis when we were Livepools. The funding did play an important role to assist us to improve our products and the rebranding has given us a breath of fresh air.
Even for our users, it has been great as we have got consumers migrating from Livepools to Blitzpools and have come back with fantastic feedback. Our retention too is going up at the moment compared to earlier as the players are playing more and a large part is because of the product itself and the improved version. With a new product in the market users always become curious and want to understand the offering which has been another great positive for us.
During the pandemic, there has been a surge in the number of fantasy sports, gaming apps. Why do you think this category became so popular with users?
According to a Deloitte India report, the time spent on gaming apps, increased by 21% during the initial national lockdown, with the total customer base crossing 300 million users. Yes, this is massive growth and yet the industry is expected to witness higher growth in coming years. People were stuck at home during the pandemic, this was a period where we had no sports and there was a lack of gaming options.
While sports was definitely one of the first outlets to make a comeback even though it happened behind closed doors, people at home still spent more time watching the matches. And enjoying fantasy sports goes hand in hand with the IPL as it’s just another avenue for players to make it more exciting.
IPL was a time when we were all locked in at home which allowed us to spend more time watching matches and enjoying fantasy sports which are linked to the IPL – being just another avenue for players to make it more exciting.
As a major sporting event in India, how does IPL 2021 affect BLITZPOOLS’ user base?
IPL is a massive opportunity for all fantasy gaming platforms to acquire customers because it is Cricket every day and it is the largest sporting event in India. Our ambition and target are to hit 2 million new registered users during the IPL, with 700,000 – 750,000 in April and about 1.2-1.3 million in May. It’s a packed sports calendar for 2021, we do have a lot of sporting events coming up such as the ICC T20 World Cup, The Asia Cup, Euro Cup (football), and Kabaddi, we aim to make the maximum use of every opportunity to reach our targets planned for the year.
What should we expect from fantasy gaming platforms during IPL 2021?
It is going to be an exciting year for sports and the 14th edition of IPL will surely be one of the biggest cricket tournaments of the year. It is a good opportunity for fantasy gaming companies to leverage this time and try to get as many consumers on board as possible.
We will also be making it a priority to target our consumer base during this time to ensure we achieve our targets of getting at least 2 million new registered users during the tournament.
What is BLITZPOOLS’ strategy, plans for expanding its market share and consumer retention in 2021?
2021 is going to be an exciting year of sports as the IPL is coming up, ICC T20 World Cup will take place in the later part of the year and other tournaments to follow which will allow us to increase our consumer base. We are aiming to take the business from 1.5 million registered users to more than 5 million users before the end of this year and with all these sporting events lined up this year, we are confident to achieve our goals.
What are the major hindrances that you think are plaguing the fantasy gaming ecosystem, and how can one fix them?
The main hindrance for fantasy gaming is that payment gateway costs are still high and that is something we would want to reduce because that eats into our margin. Allowing Instagram, Facebook advertising is a huge relief for fantasy gaming companies because it helps to directly target our users.
With quite a few competitors in the market, there is a challenge to secure and retain the consumer’s attention. Hence it becomes necessary to innovate and provide the best product offerings. Fantasy gaming is restricted in a few states in India which means we cannot make the most of the whole Indian market which also causes hindrance in our ecosystem.
Further, Indian consumers chase bonuses, such as sign–up bonuses which is something we need to keep an eye on so that we are looking to acquire only genuine customers who are regular depositing customers and re-occurring users.
What are your views on a regulatory body for fantasy gaming, and with the growing popularity of esports do you think it would be needed?
We are very much in favor of a regulatory body being formed, with the growing number of fantasy gaming platforms in the market, it will play an important role. As for the popularity of e-sports, it is growing tremendously in this country and has a long way to go in India even though globally it has grown in the last 3 – 4 years. There are some synergies between the two models, but they are completely different models in themselves.
Anything that you would want to add?
Blitzpools is certainly here to grow, over the next couple of years we are looking and targeting to be amongst the top 3 – 4 fantasy companies in the country.
Having a phenomenal partner onboard our ambitions are extremely strong, we now have an opportunity to get more of the market share but given the restraints we have with the giants in the market, we will have to try harder to get more consumers on board. We will continue to ensure we give the best product and best customer service and look forward to a successful year ahead.