The inauguration of IPL 2020 brought a fantasy world of sports into the light that won many hearts across the nation. A name that continues to resonate with sports fans even today, Dream 11 is the world’s largest fantasy sports platform with 120 million+ users. Harsh Jain, CEO & Co-Founder of Dream 11, birthed the thrilling fantasy sports app with co-founder Bhavith Seth.
The duo developed Dream11 in 2008, coming together with a mutual admiration for all things sports. Harsh Jain calls himself “an avid sports, technology, and gaming enthusiast, and a lifelong Manchester United, Mumbai Indians, and Indian Cricket Team fan.”
Harsh Jain Early Life & Education
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Harsh comes from a business family with a reputation that precedes them. His father – Mr. Anand Jain, is a well-known name in the Indian business landscape as the Chairman of Jai Corp Limited, Urban Infrastructure Venture Capital Limited., often also considered the third son of India’s business magnate, Dhirubhai Ambani. He received his primary and secondary education from Greenlawn’s High School and Sevenoaks High School, respectively. He pursued a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) degree at The University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Mathematics and Economics from 2003-2007. Initially, Harsh Jain started his career as Summer Intern at Microsoft from Jun 2006 – Aug 2006. Later in 2007-08, he worked with his father at Jai Corp Limited as a marketing manager for 13 months. Alongside this, he started building Dream 11. After a few years, he returned to student life to pursue an MBA from Columbia Business School (New York) in 2012-2014.
Harsh Jain Success Story
Channelizing his keen interest in sports, gaming, and tech, he invested all his time and effort in Dream 11 thereon, with a vision to explore fantasy sports, which was relatively uncharted territory back then. The app became the official sponsor of CPL in 2017; BBL, ICC, and ISL in 2018; and IPL in 2020 when the platform soared heroically and left cricket fans spellbound. His consistent efforts made Dream 11 the first gaming company to enter the unicorn club.
“As avid sports fans, we wanted to offer fantasy cricket to IPL fans to help them further engage with the sport they love and showcase their sports knowledge & skill.”
The app has since diversified into Football, Hockey, Rugby, Basketball, and many more sports. As of 2021, the game has a user base of 12 crores.
The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports appointed Jain as the President in 2017. He has continued to serve in the position since.
Harsh Jain has since led to the successful establishment of Dream Sports, the parent company of Dream 11, which includes several other ventures such as FanCode, Dream Capital, Dream Set Go, etc. Over the years, the Company has garnered an array of top-notch investment firms since 2017, including Kalaari Capital, Multiples Equity, Tencent Holdings, and Steadview Capital Management, making it one of the most stable and thriving start-up ecosystems. In 2021, Dream Sports attracted a funding round of $840 million led by Tiger Global, D1 Capital, Falcon Edge, DST Global, and Redbird Capital taking the Company’s valuation to an estimated $8 billion. With a user base of 140 million sports fans, each Dream Sports brand has seen individual success recently.
Harsh Jain, a man of many talents, also founded Red Digital in July 2010 as a specialized Social Media agency. In just 2 years, Red Digital built a stellar portfolio of clients in India and internationally, such as Dell, PepsiCo, Mumbai Indians, BMW, Adidas, PVR, Godrej, Reliance Foundation, Citibank, ICC, and The Discovery Channel. In 2013, Gozoop, an integrated marketing agency based out of Mumbai, acquired the social media agency.
Harsh Jain recently shared his 3 cents on how to run a successful company, stating that “unplugging” is the “fundamental principle” that Jain and Sheth live by as leaders of their company — it’s making sure their business isn’t reliant on either one of them. Thus, the co-founders of Dream Sports mandated that all employees, including themselves, take a week off. Next comes “learning from rejection“, stating that the co-founders heard “no” at least 150 times from venture capital firms when they were trying to secure early-stage funding 10 years ago. Finally, he mentioned that “shutting out the noise” is crucial because “The whole world is going to tell you, ‘It’s too hard. Give up. But if you have that belief that you’re working on something big … you just have to have that ability to shut off the noise and continue.”
His undeterred determination and far-fetched vision revolutionized the Indian gaming space for which cricket fans across India will forever be grateful.