Founded by Pranesh Krishnamurthy and Rohit Narayan, The Football Mind is a networking portal that brings together football clubs, academies, players, coaches and fans onto one platform. By Shweta Gandhi
The Football Mind founders Pranesh Krishnamurthy and Rohit Narayan are childhood friends who have been following the sport since they were kids. No wonder they were driven to create a platform where all football fanatics could unite when they noticed a paucity of dedicated football websites in the country.
How it started
IIT-B graduate Pranesh and University of Pune alumnus Rohit have been following the UEFA Europa League for a while now and their biggest grievance was that there wasn’t any portal that told them what local clubs were doing. “There wasn’t any community that catered to football worldwide, where every entity, club or fan had the opportunity to spread news, interact and communicate with each other,” Pranesh says. “There are over 120 odd football clubs in Pune and Mumbai has over 350. Internationally, there are 265 million official players listed on FIFA, and only five per cent hail from top European countries like Spain, England, Italy and Germany. And none of them have a way of communicating with each other.”
Before they started The Football Mind, Pranesh and Rohit interacted with their target audience—local communities, fans, players, coaches and local football clubs—and discovered that their gripe of a lack of common platform was indeed bang on. So they launched The Football Mind in June 2014.
Getting the setup right
“It was difficult in the beginning as there was no data that we could present except news from international clubs,” says Pranesh. So they looked at directories, connected with clubs and associations like the Pune District Football Association and Western India Football Association in Mumbai (which is associated with 1,500 clubs in 32 districts) and found a way to get in. “We started touring and educating people, and realised that we needed to build easy-to-use technology as some of the people we met were very new to computers but extremely adaptable,” he says.
Building strong networks in the metros, the two were soon able to connect with the right organisations. “We were able to fix up local football communities with Mumbai FC, a football club, which saw an increase in their fans from 200 to 3,500 through our website,” says Pranesh.
The Football Mind operates mostly online, but several of the operations are offline too. The Football Mind has a 15 member team, all from diverse fields. Their business model focuses on developing communities and providing the right software or hardware—like advanced SaaS products and tools—to football academies, coaches, players and local communities who don’t have access to tech or can’t afford wearable devices.
“Our website cannot only be termed as a social network for football fans—we also provide tech solutions,” states Pranesh. “Our team has the expertise to service anyone in the football community with any tech solutions.” There are eight special tech products that generate revenue. One is The Football Mind’s Drill (TFM Drill), a small, affordable wearable device that helps players track their movements, their sprint, work rate, improvement rate, etc. This helps them analyse their performance and take it to the next level.
Yet another paid service is a training module for academies that provides monitoring for all football centres through one account. Coaches can analyse player performances, upload schedules, generate reports and pull together the entire team on one platform.
“We also handle digital media for big football clubs that want to gather commercial interest and sponsors, and since we have offline connections, we are able to bring the two together,” says Pranesh. Still in the process of setting up their hardware tech devices, Pranesh expects more revenue to come in once that project is completed.
Progress so far
The first thing they got right was not developing the product behind closed doors. “We had a close set of friends who gave us feedback. We used that time to study their movements on the website and optimised the interface accordingly,” says Pranesh. “This way, we ended up building something that people actually needed.” When The Football Mind launched its Beta version, it saw a tremendous amount of traffic. Today it has 15,000 active registered users. “Our website is able to reach out to 500 clubs and 200 academies all over India,” says Pranesh proudly. With around US $35,000 worth of deals already signed up, Pranesh and Rohit are expecting to generate US $2,00,000 by the end of this year through their tech services.
“Winning the HOT 100 award was a great achievement. It gave us a lot of recognition and introduced us to other entrepreneurs and we realised we have to keep pushing ourselves,” he adds. In the next six to 12 months, The Football Mind aims to prove their products to a satisfactory number of organisations in India, post which they plan to go international. “We are looking at Asia, Europe and America, and plan to provide a range of tech services of the highest value,” he says. “We are also working on an easy-to-use app that will be released in the next 45 days,” Pranesh promises.