When KOOH Sports, which has raised $2 million till now from marquee investors like Faering Capital, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), HDFC and others, began operations four years back, it was a tough task convincing schools and parents to give as much attention to a child’s recreational sports activities as his education needs. But, Chirag Patel, CEO of the sports education and training services start-up, tells Praveena Sharma they have managed to bring about an attitudinal shift by consistently showing desirable results for the two lakh students they have engaged with till now.
You have raised $2million till now, will you be going in for any more fundraising?
We are evaluating whether we should raise more funds for strategic reasons and initiatives of expanding our platform and others such purposes. However, whatever we have raised till now is enough to get us to the breakeven. We are going to break even in the next 12 months.
What is your business model?
We are a sports education and services company. Our objective is to improve the health outcomes for a child, and if that is achieved, then the chances of him remaining active for life improve. It also diminishes health disorders, and so active lifestyle is what we are promoting though sports in a very structured and scientific way.
Whom are you targeting?
We primarily target schools, through which we run our programmes. We also run after-school programmes for various sports. On top of that, we organise talent hunt initiatives and competitions. We also engage with parents currently.
How many cities are you present in today?
We are present in 42 cities in India and our plan is to organically grow as opportunities emerge. If you look at all the developed countries, sports is part of their culture whereas in India we’ve missed the boat over the last 50-60 years. So, we have to make amends there.
What is your customer-base today?
We have roughly impacted two lakh kids so far and the idea is to reach about a million kids in the next three years. Currently, we are there at 160 schools and have 100 sports academies. Surprisingly, the parents of the children are equally enthusiastic.
How difficult was it to convince parents to enroll their children for recreational sports?
It was tough. I wouldn’t say it was easy. It may sound easy today but we have gone through the pain over the last four years in creating reliabilities for our services so that parents and schools see value in what we do on a sustainable basis. Parents also have limitations. It could be time, logistics or money. So, it was hard initially, but now as we are scaling up, we have wide coverage and are only increasing the number of kids.
Is it easy to get coaches in India?
There are coaches available, but we have to completely retrain them because the aspiration of the young kids is different to what it was earlier. The coaches who come to us are taught on old models. World has changed quite rapidly. So whoever we hire goes through rigorous training. There is a lot of unlearning and learning that happens.
What is your revenue model?
With schools it’s a B2B, we get into a contract with schools and they pay us. At our centres, we charge the parents. We have started a programme – freedom from fear – where we are using the principles of Taekwondo for the self-defense sessions for girls and women. Piggybacking on the government’s Skill India, we are also offering our expertise in training for different sports to them.