A Smart Gam­ble

Why do 18,000 rick­shaws in Mumbai have ‘Spar­tan’ stick­ers on them?

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL | CONTENTS - By Anirban Roy Choud­hury anirban.choud­hury@afaqs.com

Why do 18,000 rick­shaws in Mumbai have the hard-to-miss Spar­tan stick­ers on them?

If you were driv­ing any­where in Mumbai you must have no­ticed TheSpartanPoker.com sticker be­hind au­torick­shaws. It is hard to miss, the fast grow­ing on­line poker plat­form pasted stick­ers on over 18,000 rick­shaws in the sub­urbs of Mumbai. In South Mumbai, where rick­shaws aren’t al­lowed, they pasted ban­ners on buses. Apart from Mumbai, stick­ers are pasted on 6000 - 8000 rick­shaws in Ahmedabad and about 3000 - 4000 rick­shaws in Bengaluru are car­ry­ing the ban­ner.

Rick­shaws on con­gested roads pro­vide a good re­turn on in­vest­ment, be­lieves Amin Rozani, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and co-founder, The Spartanpoker.com. “We have trav­elled in many cities to see what works where and we found that rick­shaw ad­ver­tis­ing does not make sense in places with broad roads. In those places, we reached out to peo­ple via ra­dio spots,” Rozani shares.

The Spar­tan con­sid­ers Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Hy­der­abad as its key mar­kets, and with time and more rev­enue com­ing in the plat­form plans to pro­mote it­self ag­gres­sively in each of the mar­kets. It’s not only rick­shaws and ra­dio stations; the poker plat­form flaunts its var­i­ous cham­pi­onships on gi­ant hoard­ings in Goa, which is a des­ti­na­tion for many poker pro­fes­sion­als across the coun­try. As­so­ci­a­tion as ti­tle spon­sor in col­lege events also gives the plat­form a lot of mileage be­lieves Rozani. TheSpartanPoker.com was the ti­tle spon­sor of Mithibai Col­lege’s an­nual event ‘Umang’ last year and this year, too, the part­ner­ship is set to con­tinue. “When you have an Amitabh Bachchan stand­ing in front of your logo it does great PR. It’s a fes­ti­val which fea­tures many celebri­ties, this year Shah Rukh Khan is go­ing to be there, and then there are stu­dents who are po­ten­tial cus­tomers. We are like any other e-com­merce plat­form, we spend to garner eye­balls and en­hance our brand value,” Rozani adds.

TheSpartanpoker.com re­cently roped in Road­ies fame - Ran­nvi­jay Singh Singha as its brand am­bas­sador. Its com­pe­ti­tion in the on­line poker space - Poker­baazi.com has Sunny Leone as its brand am­bas­sador. “Ran­nvi­jay is a poker en­thu­si­ast him­self, when we sat to dis­cuss a spon­sor­ship deal with him, in­stead of speak­ing about money, he started dis­cussing hands with me, and he is so hooked on it. We have him for a year and we will see what we can do with him,” Rozani adds.

Rozani and his team have cut out a plan to broaden their reach. The pri­mary tar­gets are the ones who are al­ready play­ing the game. “All our out­door ac­tiv­i­ties are planned to get the MBA grad­u­ates, engi­neers and play­ers who are al­ready play­ing the game, on our plat­form. A part of our com­mu­ni­ca­tion is also tar­geted to get new play­ers into the game,” adds Rozani.

TheSpartanPoker.com has over 1.5 lakh users in its data­base and to re­tain them with the plat­form it is im­por­tant to of­fer them new and ex­cit­ing tour­na­ments, chal­lenges and re­wards. That’s stage two of the mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive. “Last month we re­warded one player with a Skoda car, last year the win­ner of the leader­board chal­lenge was awarded a Re­nault Duster, we host a mil­lion­aire tour­na­ment once a month where the win­ner and run­ner-up get Rs 20 lakh and 10 lakh each and there are many such tour­na­ments go­ing on through­out the year,” Rozani in­forms.

The only plat­form with more play­ers in its data­base than The Spar­tan at this mo­ment is adda52. Owned by casino firm Deltin the plat­form claims of hav­ing over 1 mil­lion users. But if pro­fes­sional poker play­ers are to be­lieved, the to­tal play­ers play­ing the game in In­dia would be much lesser than a mil­lion. “We aim to have half a mil­lion play­ers in our data­base by the end of 2018,” says Rozani.

He feels adda52 has a slight ad­van­tage over TheS­par­tan as the for­mer has its very own venue to host live events and lever­age the brand. “It is not that you can­not sur­vive with­out it, but it is a val­ueadd. Host­ing a live event in­volves a lot of lo­gis­tics and it’s very dif­fi­cult to make prof­its from a live event. It’s just that peo­ple from all across come and you get to lever­age the brand. What we do now is when­ever we see some­one host­ing a live event we go and part­ner them,” Rozani di­vulges.

Dig­i­tal re­mains the most pre­ferred medium for TheS­par­tan, but out­door, in­clud­ing event spon­sor­ship, is where most of the ad dol­lars are spent. TV is not a medium that the plat­form is con­sid­er­ing at this stage, “I don’t think our TG (tar­get group) watches TV, and I feel they spend more time on dig­i­tal. Also, TV is very ex­pen­sive, for 1 im­pres­sion on TV you need to pay around Rs 16 whereas on dig­i­tal it is around 18 paisa,” he in­forms.

Mumbai-born Amin Rozani was al­ways a poker en­thu­si­ast, he started with two ta­bles in a friend’s garage, where play­ers used to come and play their hands. He then booked a poker room at Deltin (a casino is Goa) and used to host the In­dian Poker Cham­pi­onship (IPC). He has trav­elled around the world to fig­ure out the best busi­ness model and has im­ple­mented them in his plat­form. The soft­ware on which TheSpartanPoker.com runs is leased from Rus­sia and over 40 peo­ple mon­i­tor it at any point of time.

The plat­form is no doubt ris­ing as ev­ery tour­na­ment gets more en­tries than the pre­vi­ous one. Rozani’s of­fice cabin has a line on the wall that con­cludes it well “Good Things Are Hap­pen­ing in Poker”. ■

The Spar­tan con­sid­ers Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Hy­der­abad as its key mar­kets.

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