Inside The Pocket and WonderWins this week launched a major new initiative with ESPN’s Cricinfo to launch into India’s Daily Fantasy Sports space. In this week’s Face-to-Face, Inside The Pocket founder, Hussain Naqi, talks to us about the huge market potential he sees in India and how he aims to carve out a distinctive niche.
Welcome to Asia Gaming Brief’s Face-to-Face series. Today we’re talking with Hussain Naqi, the founder of Inside The Pocket and WonderWins. WonderWins has just this week announced a collaboration with ESPN’s digital cricket content platform in India to launch a daily fantasy sports app. We discuss the growth of daily fantasy sports in India, and where the future might take the company.
AGBrief: Tell us a little bit about what brought this around. You went from being an executive in the NFL to Daily Fantasy Sports apps in India.
It’s been a circuitous route. We started at the core of the business as a B2B platform, a company called Inside the Pocket, which is a free-to-play content aggregation platform for anything, from operators, to brands, to teams, and leagues to media companies, and we’ve gained a lot of traction with that.
Often free-to-play gaming eases the pinch on customer acquisition. In a lot of ways, it was a very natural kind of marriage, between Cricinfo and WonderWins. We have a really solid proposition and they’re growing in the fantasy space and trying to really beef up their content offering.
We’re embedding our free to play proposition within their app, within their site, and we feel that as their content offering grows in this space, we can grow with them.
AGBrief: And why India? What appeals about the India Daily Fantasy market?
I’m of Indian heritage, so it’s always been a bit of a siren song for me to engage with this market and figure out a way to contribute. Cricinfo in a lot of ways was the right part.
There are very few opportunities where you can launch a new brand to the numbers that Cricinfo drives and to the really captivated and engaged audience that they have. So you’d be silly not to entertain it as an up and comer in the space.
AGBrief: What kind of numbers are we looking at here?
They drive upwards of 85 million views. That is a legitimate number of people being exposed to the WonderWin brand, with us being able to interact and help to supplement their already strong content.
AGBrief: So this is a free to play app. How does the revenue generation work here?
The relationship with ESPN and with ESPN Cricinfo is with our free-to-play proposition. We have a pay-to-play version of the game that sits outside of their ecosystem and is available on the App Store or available by download on an Android device.
Monetisation is very standard in this space, whether it’s a platform fee or sponsorship model or ad generated model. We’ll use that free-to-play model hopefully as an acquisition mechanism for other propositions.
AGBrief: Real money gaming in India is very nascent as an industry. What kind of challenges do you see there?
First and foremost it’s a trust question. Are we, as any other actor in the marketplace, a trustworthy proposition? We feel like the alignment with ESPN hopefully buttresses that sense of transparency and trustworthiness. In a lot of ways, it’s difficult to separate yourself from the many other very established offerings in the marketplace.
So we do things like offering a second innings project and product, which is pretty rare in this market. In two or three quarters down the road, we need to be offering games other than just cricket and football in the fantasy space. There has to be a constant evolution and we have to associate ourselves with the right people. We feel like a partnership like ESPN helps drive that home.
AGBrief: What kind of size do you think the Indian market?
I think it probably depends on how you’re defining that, whether you’re looking at the fantasy space, or broader. Needless to say, it is massive.
AGBrief: Where next after India?
I think that there’s a lot of opportunity in Latin America. I think Africa is really interesting. Certainly various markets within those within those geographies. If you think about what happened in the U.S. as daily fantasy being a harbinger for other morays being opened up, that might be the case with other cultures.
AGBrief: What does your background experience bring in terms of fan engagement? And how are you planning to drive that?
I’m still a fan first and foremost. When I walk out into a stadium and I see a field or a pitch for the first time, or even for the 100th time, I’m still like, wow, I can’t believe this. I hope that wide-eyed, bushy-tailed view of sports never leaves. I’m hopeful that I bring a fan’s lens to the space.