By Monisha G Kumar Last Updated:
Every sports enthusiast is well versed with the Indian fantasy sports platform, Dream 11, which allows users to play fantasy cricket, hockey, football and many other sports. With 150 million active users on the platform, Dream 11 is one of the most popular fantasy apps among sports lovers. Founded in 2008, Dream 11 became the first Indian fantasy sports company to become a unicorn in 2019.
Despite the app’s huge popularity, the business idea of Dream 11 was rejected 150 times. Yes, you read that right. The birth of this app only happened after 150 venture capitalists rejected it. Do you know that Harsh Jain, son of Indian businessman, Anand Jain, is one of the co-founders of Dream 11 along with Bhavit Sheth?
Harsh Jain, who was an avid game and sports enthusiast is the co-founder and CEO of Dream 11. Despite multiple rejections and obstacles, Harsh created one of the most successful gaming platforms, Dream 11. So, let us dive into the details of Harsh Jain’s success story.
Son of Anand Jain, Chairman of Jai Corp Limited, Harsh was born in Mumbai. Harsh was an avid gaming and sports enthusiast. He attended Sevenoaks High School in London, after which he pursued a degree in Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. After his graduation, Harsh went on to pursue his MBA from Columbia University.
During his graduation, Harsh worked as an intern with Microsoft, and it was during that period that he became a fan of fantasy sports. He returned to India and began his entrepreneurial journey. In 2008, the IPL started for the first time, and it was at that moment when Harsh and his college friend, Bhavit dreamt of Dream 11. Harsh manages the product, design, tech and marketing, whereas Bhavit looks after the operations.
Though Dream 11 is a big name today in the gaming world, the company faced its fair share of ups and downs in the initial stage. As per Harsh, around 150 venture capitalists turned down the business idea. It also faced allegations of being a gambling platform. It was only after the company fought a significant number of legal battles that it was declared as a legitimate platform.
In a podcast, Harsh talked about reaching out to almost 150 ventures for funding and being turned down. Elaborating on the same, he said:
“But then each one actually taught us a little bit about our business, from gross margins to lifetime value and CAC”
In 2012, Dream 11 introduced freemium fantasy sports in India for Cricket enthusiasts. In 2014, the company reached 1 million users, which saw a whopping number of 45 million in 2018. In 2020, Dream 11 got the title sponsorship rights of IPL 2020. In 2023, Dream 11 acquired the jersey sponsorship of the Indian National Cricket Team.
With more than 800 staff, Harsh’s dream company is currently valued at Rs. 65,000 crores. The startup has more than 200 million active users and has expanded its wings in different sports, including kabbadi, handball, basketball, baseball and rugby.
In 2010, Harsh Jain also co-founded a social media agency, Red Digital in Mumbai, which was later acquired by Gozoop in 2013. In 2017, Harsh became the President of the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports.
In 2013, Harsh Jain tied the knot with a dentist, Rachana Shah and together they have a son named Krish. Harsh and Rachana garnered a lot of limelight in 2021 as they purchased a luxurious duplex apartment worth Rs. 72 crores near Antilia. As per Live Mint, the apartment is spread across the 29th and 30th floors and is located in one of the most expensive locations in India.
Harsh has often talked about his wife’s support in establishing his Rs. 65,000 crore startup, Dream 11. Calling her a constructive critic at an event, Harsh stated:
“Rach has been the invisible force behind our success—my sounding board, a coach, constructive critic, a shoulder to cry on, someone who helps me stay balanced and not burn out, office and product designer, marketing consultant, HR head... it goes on and on and on.”
Not many people know that Harsh Jain’s father, Anand Jain is regarded as Mukesh Ambani’s second brother. It is because of Anand and Mukesh’s decades-old friendship that started during their school days. Anand Jain has been a close confidante of Mukesh Ambani for over 25 years. He served as the Vice-Chairman of Reliance Capital.
Anand Jain, who was ranked 11th on Forbes India’s 40 Richest List in 2007, is often considered the ‘third son’ of business tycoon, Dhirubhai Ambani, because of his close bond with the family. Multiple reports also state that Anand Jain is Mukesh Ambani’s key advisor. Despite all this, he doesn’t take a single penny from the Reliance industry. Just like his uncle Mukesh, Harsh too is recognised as an Indian billionaire.
Harsh Jain did not turn a billionaire overnight. It is his sheer hard work and dedication that paved the way for his success. The self-made businessman turned every rejection and failure into an accomplishment.