“Sport is as old as humanity itself. It’s kept societies fit and healthy while building strong communities and boosting morale. In today’s pandemic-stricken world, we have seen first-hand evidence of how important it is to look after both body & mind.” This is the belief of the founder of Push Sports Mr. Puru Singh.
Puru Singh, is an ex-Delhi cricket player who transitioned into a cricket coaching because of his love for cricket. Puru is an experienced cricket coach with a proven track record at the highest level, he has been a part of the winning team of Chitwan Tigers in Nepal’s Everest Premier League. He has also coached the Delhi Women’s U19 and U23 Teams, helping Delhi reach the finals of the competition. He has conducted more than 10000 man hours of cricket coaching, working with different age groups on technical, tactical, mental and physical aspects of the game. Puru is well known in the circuit as the highest wicket-taker in the North Zone when he represented Delhi in U22. He started his entrepreneurial journey with Push Sports in 2016 to ensure that cricket would be part of his life forever.
Led by Puru Singh the journey of Push Sports kicked off with the Cricket First Agenda. His efforts were complemented wholeheartedly by Nitin Pahuja, co-founder & CFO alongside Mukul Grover, Co-Founder & Technology lead. We had the pleasure of asking Mr Puru some questions to understand more about his entrepreneurial venture. Excerpts from the interview are below.
Q 1. Mr. Puru tell us about your startup and what made you start it. And what was the thought behind it?
I started PUSH Cricket Academy in 2016 with 02 Nets, 03 kids and 02 Coaches. The importance of sports in life made me begin this journey. I believe that competitive physical exercise not only motivates children and adults to get outside and keep fit, but it also instils important values in them. The thought behind Push Sports is that we are losing out on tapping more ground level talents. Given the population of India, the number of children coming into sports is miniscule. Only by making Sports training reachable and affordable, can we get them to train and look at sports as a career option.
The best part about starting a venture from scratch is that you learn about every aspect of the business from operations to marketing to business development and what not. The most satisfying aspect of our growth is the fact that we have grown as a team. Each individual who has been with us has matured immensely both as an individual and as a business leader. Fast forwarding to 2022 and we have transformed into PUSH Sports Arenas Pvt Ltd. We are currently operating in Nine Locations and counting to add one new location in every two months.
Q 2. Tell us a little about your childhood and your early cricketing memories and what led you here.
My earliest memory of cricket is what my mother tells me about me playing in my home using a potato as a cricket ball. I did my schooling at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya and went on to do my graduation from St Stephen’s College. I am also an IIM Kolkata Alumni. This unique exposure to business strategies and cricket made me comfortable with both management and following my own entrepreneurial passion into Cricket. I have been part of various Delhi State Cricket teams like Ranji Trophy, Under 19, U22 and U25. I was the highest wicket taker in the north zone while playing for Delhi U22. My journey as a coach started with ‘Safe Hands Sports Management’ where I saw this as an opportunity to follow my passion and diversified the organization. Apart from structuring the overall academy functioning and group coaching sessions, I was also responsible for starting personal coaching sessions for the first time for kids ranging from 6 to 16 year old.
The journey continued as I joined as Assistant Coach of Delhi Women’s U19 Team for season 2018-19 and later I was given the reins of U23 girls next season as the Head Coach. As a unit we had a phenomenal season as we reached the finals of over 50 competitions and reached the super league in T20s. Later I joined Chitwan Tigers from Nepal as a Coach and mentor and won the Everest Premier League (Nepal’s version of IPL) in 2022
These experiences as coach also showed me that we are not doing enough to get the ground level talent excited. And that was one of the major coaching philosophies on which the foundations of PUSH Cricket Academy was based when I started PUSH Cricket Academy in 2016 with 02 Nets, 03 kids and 02 Coach.
Q 3. What is the model of Push sports?
‘Push Sports’, works to make Sports an integral part of the daily life of children—in partnership with schools and through stand-alone arenas with the best infrastructure, coaches and competitive exposure. It primarily focuses on ‘Sports Education’ – catalyzing fitness through sports-led interventions, while also monetizing the physical sports infrastructure across education institutions and corporate sports houses to make it more sustainable. Apart from training the children, Push Sports also organizes field tournaments and matches. It has a subscriber base of 2000+ customers with 400+ sports education subscribers and 1500+ pay-to-play customers. Push Sports focuses on expanding the ‘Sports Education’ by establishing and working on their own arenas including school grounds in post-schooling hours, thus connecting with the hyper-local community and encouraging kids to play. They also conduct in-school teaching sessions where specialized coaches who teach the students within school hours. Push Sports has inked partnership with various academies in other sports like football, badminton and taekwondo apart from others to have access to top-quality professional coaches for various sports.
Q 4. How different is your model from the existing models and how do you want to compete with them?
We do not want to compete with anyone. We believe that mentoring and coaching goes hand in hand when you are expecting results. We provide world class trainings, coaches and hundreds of practice matches to our players. Our results and selection of students in various state and district teams speak for themselves. Apart from India, our students are also proving their mettle in England, Australia, USA and Nepal. Some of our competitors are Arya Sports Venture, Freebowler, Sports Score and RKade Cricket Academy, but II honestly believe sports in our country has huge potential and there is no need to compete, there are enough kids to be trained and given exposure to.
Q 5. What is the traction so far?
Push Sports today has a subscriber base of 400, along with 1500 registered players. In last year in addition to Cricket, we have also added specialized coaches for Taekwondo, Skating, Table Tennis and Badminton. Based out of Gurgaon we are on a mission to revive active outdoor sports as the number one fitness choice for kids and young adults. We are developing a digitally connected eco-system of self operated playing arenas with multi-sport, sports coaching, day & night facilities.
Q 6. What is your vision to scale your business? (Like funding, marketing plan etc)
I started PUSH Sports with a personal seed money of INR 2 crore, it now has six arenas across Delhi NCR. We have recently raised an additional INR 2.2 crore. Singapore based investor syndicate, BeyondSeed led the round along with Delhi based, Moonshine Technologies Pvt Ltd in investing sizeable funds alongside Ah! Ventures. With this funding we are aiming to expand regionally in Chandigarh, Jaipur and Rohtak to capture the interest of kids beyond Delhi NCR and offer our expert services.
Q 7. Any other interesting information you would like to share with us?
Shikhar Dhawan’s Sports Academy, Da One Sports has also joined hands with us for various initiatives like ‘Grassroots Innovation Programme’ and ‘Sports Training Programme’, focusing on developing a sporting culture at the foundation level.
Two of our girl cricketers Shubhi Sharma and Ayati Sadotra have been chosen to play in the U19 Uttar Pradesh team and U15 Jammu & Kashmir team respectively. Ayati has also been appointed the captain of the side.
Earlier our students have bagged three slots in the newly announced Under 16 Cricket Squad by Delhi. Sarthak Ray has been appointed the Vice Captain of the squad and he is joined by fellow PUSHERS Anindo Naharay and Harshvardhan Phogat . The young cricketers will be representing Delhi U16 in the upcoming Vijay Merchant Trophy.
In the words of Shiva Vilayanur, Co-founder and COO at BeyondSeed, “As per market estimates, driven by India’s massive youth population, the Indian Sports Industry is expected to grow to USD 100 billion by 2027. We believe that Push Sports is plugging a gap in the fragmented recreational & sports coaching market segment in India that is catering towards kids U-14 and youth, by providing top-class infrastructure and competitive training programmes focusing on the overall wellbeing and health of the child. Most importantly the “Push team” led by Ex Ranji Player and ICC Level 2 Coach, Puru Singh alongside Nitin Pahuja and Mukul Grover with their sports management know-how and passion for sports in general, is well positioned to capture a greater share of the market”.