Exclusive: Participation of global athletes is a big opportunity for monetizing the team – Kailash Kandpal, CEO at Insurekot Sports

Mr Kandpal spoke at length about the reason behind venturing into a chess league along with its business model, marketing assets and much more things.

The inaugural season of the Global Chess League (GCL) kicked off on June 21 in Dubai with some excelling contests. Ganges Grandmasters (GG) are first in the points table with three wins from three matches while Chingari Gulf Titans (CGT) are contrasting GG with two losses in three contests.

Notably, day two also saw the world number-one, Magnus Carlsen beat the former world champion, Viswanathan Anand.

GCL is the first and biggest official franchise chess league in the world, bringing fans from worldwide to enjoy the game in a never-before-seen format. The GCL is the first professional league with a combined team system, where men and women play in the same team and compete for the championship. With fresh and creative formats, the league hopes to introduce chess to millions of new players and give it a fresh viewpoint.

By utilising next-generation technologies, FIDE and Tech Mahindra have teamed up to promote chess through interactive technology-enabled platforms.

SportsMint Media had the honour of speaking to Mr Kailash Kandpal, CEO of Insurekot Sports Private Limited, which owns Ganges Grandmasters and Puneri Paltan.

 In the exclusive conversation, Mr Kandpal spoke at length about the reason behind venturing into a chess league along with its business model, marketing assets and much more things.

1. As a CEO of Insurekot Sports what’s your day-to-day at office?

We do a lot of planning for the upcoming leagues, we have back-to-back leagues coming up, beginning with the ongoing Global Chess League. Then we have the Ultimate Table Tennis, we have a team by the name of Puneri Paltan in it. And after that, we get into Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) where we have the players’ auction sometime in August which is then followed by the camp and the league. And then just after the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, we will have PKL. Our day-to-day activities go into the planning of the next steps of these leagues.

2. What’s the motive behind venturing into a chess competition?

We went to the chess league because the league is promoted by Tech Mahindra. So it’s got the backing of Anand Mahindra, who established the PKL and has shown to the world that India can do a league on a global standard. Apart from Indian Premier League, which is cricket, it is a religion in this country. But then to have a second sport and establish that league requires a lot of hard work and courage. Thanks to Mr Mahindra and his vision of getting this sport the kind of credit it deserves. So, I think, all the mentioned factors moved us towards GCL and this league is going to be telecasted across the globe and have got global players coming in and playing. So all these global athletes playing for an Indian franchise talk a lot about the country itself.

3. Is there any specific competition’s business model that you follow?

Of course, Indian Premier League (IPL), it’s is a homegrown business model, which is followed by all teams in India, all leagues try to follow it and I would say it is one of the most successful leagues globally. If you have a homegrown league which is so successful, you try and follow that model. So you take the best practices from that model and you try to apply it in your sports. Of course, the scale of IPL is much bigger, the output is also much higher in terms of revenue. But you try and take the best out of those leagues and try to do your best with your league.

4. Could you please elaborate on the marketing assets in a chess competition?

There are various marketing assets, starting from the on-ground events, a lot of events can happen right from school to the parks to the malls. Then you have social media now, which is the most powerful tool and of course the players. You use them as your marketing strategy to reach out to more fans across the globe and especially new fans.

5. Do you have a player in mind who will help GCL to grab the eyeballs?

I think there are many players but I would not want to name them because if I name a few and I miss out on a few then it will not be fair.

6. Will the business model of Ganges Grandmasters be similar to Puneri Paltan?

No, this is a slightly different business model because here, most of the cost elements are taken care of centrally by the league. The operations and venue booking are taken care of by the league. In terms of ticket sales, I don’t think we will have that much ticket revenue for the first couple of seasons and that will also be taken care of by the league. But here we have an opportunity in terms of sponsorships, we have global athletes participating so that is a good way of monetizing your team and then you have the broadcasters.

7. What circumstances have been faced while acquiring sponsors for a new competition?

The inaugural season of the competition will be tough. Just like kabaddi, I remember for the first two seasons, no brands were ready to touch it. When I used to go to them and say, I’m handling a kabaddi league, they would not understand what league exactly. So this was the kind of feedback I got from sponsors, but now it’s different. Almost 60 per cent of my inventory is already sold and for the remaining 40 per cent, I’m already getting emails and messages to start a conversation.

8. What makes you interested in a particular pitch by a brand?

It depends on the brands. Now we have become very choosy on what kind of brands we want to be associated with because Puneri Paltan if you see historically, except for the first two seasons, where they were at the bottom of the table, they have consistently been doing well and making to the playoffs. So now we also have become choosy on the brands we want to associate it with because we are a team which is performing well and we’ve got some star athletes in our team. We also have sponsorship amounts segregated, certain fixed amounts and certain variable amounts. So, the team does well then the variable kicks in, and there’s no flat fee. Now, we have fixed variables, so if my team makes the playoffs, you’ve got to give me a certain x amount of money because I get to play those extra matches, you get more exposure and my team is doing well, which means I have more followers.

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