Fantasy leagues are gaining popularity among sport enthusiasts across the world. Bangladeshi sports lovers have been missing the chance to take part in fantasy league because there were none for them. A group of young entrepreneurs have developed ‘GameOf11’ where participants can play cricket and football fantasy league. During a conversation with Nahid Riyasad the team shared their journey
FRANCHISE based sports are gaining popularity around the world. In India, with the exponential growth of IPL, different sports are also indulging in such leagues and this popularity is creating another sport — fantasy league.
Fantasy leagues are usually played online where sports fans can create their own team, when a physical match is taking place and can acquire points when their selected players perform well in the real world.
Cricket and football are currently two most popular sports in different fantasy leagues. Fantasy Premier League for the English Premier League and Dream11 for Indian Premier League are two very popular fantasy leagues to mention.
Despite serious fan-base of both the leagues in Bangladesh and popularity of cricket is indicating to a lucrative but untapped market here. To fill that void GameOf11 or GO11 in short is here. This is the brain child of a group of young computer science majors who are obsessed with sports and want to entertain others who share similar obsession.
Ashif Mujtoba is the founder and CEO and Tanvir Ahmed Palash is a co-founder and CTO of the GO11. Both of them have been working in the information technology sector for over five years after completing their graduation from Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology.
Asif Mojtoba Kabir is the UX and product lead of GO11 and is pursuing his under-graduation from BRAC University. The former two look after the code base and structural development of the platform and the later is responsible for the user experience and core product.
In the context of India, Dream 11 started in 2010 but gained popularity around 2015. They are now a USD 1 billion company where the market is much larger at USD 4-5 billion. ‘This popularity made us think that a lot of Bangladeshi sports enthusiasts do not have Indian cell-phone number, which is required to play in the fantasy league so they use Facebook groups and other alternative methods to participate. We thought this as an excellent opportunity to create a similar platform in Bangladesh,’ said Ashif.
From the mid-2018, we started to brainstorm over the idea of a fantasy league. By September we were planning the architectural construction of the application. We had an edge because of our software and coding related skills were at our disposal and the business model perfectly suited that.
Towards the end of 2018, we built the platform. Here, we publish real time matches — cricket and football. A user can see the player lists of the match and join the contests. Each match always has a free contest to join and there are paid contests too — from Tk 10 to Tk 50 for a match.
‘The user will get real time updates of the game and our platform calculates the performances of the players through an algorithm and generates the result board in real time as soon as the match ends. The user with the highest points is the winner and we declare beforehand the cut-off for the prize, said Tanvir during an interview with the New Age Youth.
Total prize money for a specific game and the number of winners is shown on top of the game to remain transparent. For example, if the list says there will be 110 winners for a specific game, the prize money, say, Tk 5570 will be distributed among them based on their points.
For the encashment of the prize money, bKash is the major partner and for purchasing game-coins users can also use Foster Payments like cards, Rocket, internet banking et cetera.
Is fantasy league a betting game? Three courts in India have declared that fantasy league require a specific set of skills and understanding of a certain game, so this makes GO11 a skill-based game rather than prediction-based betting or gambling. As fantasy league is still in grey area considering Bangladeshi laws, the team met with the cyber-crime unit of the police and clarified the plans with them.
February 14 marked the first year of the platform. Till date, GO11 has 42,000 registered users. Most of them are organic users and come to know about the app from other users. The potential user of the app is quite large — 12-13 million — as the target market is age group of 18-35. So far, they have not conducted any formal communication or marketing to gain this fan base. During the conversation, Ashif added that they are planning to take the registered users number to 4 million within three years, by the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup.
The platform has been running on self-finances. GO11 is a project of seven people including the founder and co-founders who are contributing a certain amount per month to operate the application. Forhad Alam, Nazmul Hossain Shakil, Anik Saha and Arunabh Sikder are also co-founders apart from the three mentioned above and work on both the backend and the frontend of the application. After a few months, they started generating amount from in-app coin purchase; these two funds are currently sufficient to run the daily operations. However, to achieve their target as planned they are currently preparing to reach out to investors.
The group shared some of their struggles so far. Response for this platform has surpassed their expectations. During a series between India and South Africa in 2019, so many users were playing on GO11 that the server could not take the load. Asif Mojtoba Kabir saw this as their success rather than an obstacle because it indicated how popular they can become among the sports enthusiasts. ‘Within a week, we changed the architectural pattern of the application to accommodate large number of users at a time,’ he added.
In the Facebook group of GO11, users can communicate with the team in real time and this group is a huge platform for feedbacks for the team. From that group, the team get to know about the demands of the users and tweak their platform according to the demands. A team of 2-3 members of the team are dedicated for this group who personally take care of every inquiries, recommendations and problems of the users.
Till now, GO11 has covered 630 Cricket matches and 55 Football matches.
Currently the team has one goal — GO11 wants to be synonymous to fantasy league in Bangladesh.
Nahid Riyasad is a member of the New Age Youth team.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Initiative