Interview with Ravi Kukreja, Co-Founder of playR, Official Merchandise partner for IPL team 2023 (CSK, MI, RR, and PK)
Ravi possesses a wide range of expertise in various fields such as Business Planning, Product and Brand Management, Business Development, Strategic Planning, Marketing, Operations, and Finance.
His deep understanding of emerging markets and their ever-changing dynamics allows him to navigate through the business landscape with ease.
Ravi’s keen interest lies in comprehending consumer behavior and devising effective marketing strategies to capitalize on market trends.
He has provided consultancy services to numerous corporate entities and startups, leveraging his knowledge and experience. As the Director of iCOREts Private Limited, the owner of the brand playR.
Simultaneously, as the Director of Blutree Solutions Private Limited, he successfully manages a profitable corporate supplies business.
Additionally, Ravi serves as the Director of Bidoya Com Private Limited, where he channels his entrepreneurial spirit towards building a bulk bid buy online marketplace set to launch in March 2024.
Lastly, as the Founder Honorary Director of Corporate Gifts Association of India, Ravi spearheads a non-profit association aimed at fostering business relationships among corporate gifting companies and brands.
This impressive portfolio of businesses and initiatives showcases Ravi’s diverse experience and his unwavering entrepreneurial drive.
Moreover, his passion for continuous learning is evident as he remains an avid reader, consistently staying updated on the latest market and industry trends.
Can you provide an overview of the company’s role as the official merchandise partner for IPL teams CSK, MI, RR, and PBKS in 2023?
Ravi Kukreja: Cricket being the No.2 Sport in the world and the No. 1 sport in India, it’s almost surreal that the most-watched Indian Premier League’s top teams have noticed our endeavour and omnichannel deliverables.
As part of the arrangement 2023 and beyond, playR is the Exclusive Global Merchandise Partner which includes team wear (Jersey, Training Travel etc) Cricket Equipment and Gear (Bat, Ball, Helmet, Gloves, Pads and Kits.) for CSK, MI and RR and Global Exclusive Fan Merchandise Partner for PBKS which includes Cricket Equipment and Gear.
Besides this playR is the Global Merchandise Partner which includes Fan Apparel, Fitness and Accessories for CSK, MI, RR and PBKS.
Apart from the ever-increasing range of playR Lifestyle and Sports Apparel, Sports Equipment, Bicycles and Accessories, playR manufactures Merchandise products and has an omnichannel distribution infrastructure spread across over 300 Offline Stores across India and International markets and Online marketplaces, including amazon, flipkart, respective IPL team’s website and playR website.
How did playR secure partnerships with these prominent IPL teams, and what factors do you believe contributed to the company’s selection as their official merchandise partner?
Ravi Kukreja: iCOREts Private Limited the parent company of playR brand has been in business of omnichannel marketing for various brands.
playR was launched in November 2021, we are always mindful that sports is a part of our daily life, part of our work and even our way of life.
Historically Team Jersey was the focal area as a Fan Merchandise offering, playR approach towards fan merchandising business is a holistic 360 degree approach.
Within 3 months of launch of playR we had our first team signed for merchandise business and rest is history.
We have created an almost exhaustive range of products that a Fan can experience as part of daily life. Mug for a cup of Coffee, Sipper for drinkware, Shakers for Gym rats.
Yoga mats for flexibility and tranquillity, Fan tees for on ground daily wear, polos for Friday and weekend office wear, back and neck pillow for travel and extra comfort, Back packs and duffle bags for everyday commute and travel, Cricket Gear from popular, Kashmir to English willow bats, tennis and leather balls, pads, gloves, helmets for tennis to weekend to pro cricket and other daily objects. We celebrate each and every fan and feel their happiness and sorrow.
What makes playR’s merchandise unique and appealing to cricket fans? How do you ensure that the merchandise aligns with the brand image and values of each.
Ravi Kukreja: We understand the fans and their emotions and passion for the teams they support. Each team has its own story and ethos.
Each and every merchandise was designed keeping this emotion in mind and ensuring the best quality. Each team has a communicates with its fans differently e.g.
MI has a very distinctive street flavour to its communication, and CSK WhistlePodu and yellow Love is synonymous to the brand CSK.
We are listening to the fans and work on designs accordingly. Very soon we will be launching Champion 23 Graphic Fan Tee for proud CSK fans.
Can you discuss any specific strategies or initiatives that playR has implemented to enhance the fan experience through its merchandise offerings?
Ravi Kukreja: The fans appreciated the width of product offerings and omnichannel timely reach. The range was almost exhaustive and we expanded the reach through a healthy mix of online and offline platforms, which was missing and erratic over the past years.
We are working towards a day when every fan across the globe has almost immediate seamless access to Fan Merchandise.
This IPL season, we launched the product range from day one with value offerings in terms of price and reach.
We want to make the Fan Merchandise even more affordable going forward. This partnership across four teams has enabled fans across the globe to feel more connected to the game, and the merchandise range.
We shipped over 35, 000 jerseys and 15, 000 merchandise in the first 30 days of launch. This is a testament to the brand’s popularity and the trust that the fans have in our products.
In addition to jerseys and fan merchandise, we also introduced cricket equipment’s for IPL franchise giving fans multiple touch points to connect with their favourite team.
Can you share any insights into the creative process and collaboration with the teams?
Ravi Kukreja: We are fans of fans. We are at the stadium, we are at the stores, we are online, on social media. We are listening to the fans.
The teams are equally involved in the creative feedback and taking the merchandise constantly and we go back to our drawing boards and have constant interaction with the team to update. Our fans are demanding and work towards providing the best value.
In terms of distribution and sales, what channels does playR utilise to make IPL team merchandise accessible to fans? Are there any plans to expand the distribution network or explore new sales channels?
Ravi Kukreja: As a bootstrapped startup we have prioritized our resources towards creating value-based products and invested in product development and reach.
Our marketing has been organic and through word of mouth. We are yet to enter a phase of marketing, advertising, and communication.
Marketing is an investment and needs support from strategic investors. We wanted to get our foothold strong before going to the market for investments.
However, we have been approached by a few investors and we are currently weighing a few options before we accept investments. We have our media mix ready and it’s only a matter of time before we start the marketing.
The IPL landscape is known for its passionate fan base. How does playR engage with fans and leverage their feedback to improve the merchandise offerings?
Ravi Kukreja: playR philosophy since its inception is, Encouraging a healthier, meaningful life through sports. With the conviction that every player deserves the right clothing, equipment, and accessory at the right value.
We strived to create ‘real’ products- products and services that make our everyday lives healthier, more meaningful, and much more enjoyable.
With multiple IPL teams under playR’s partnership, how do you ensure equal focus and attention to each team’s merchandise requirements and fan base?
Ravi Kukreja: Each product was designed keeping in mind the team’s identity and the logo. The collection included t-shirts, cricket bats, balls, pads, gloves, fitness accessories and more-
What is your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Follow your Passion: Pick a business thought that lines up with your interests and interests. Building a fruitful endeavour requires commitment and diligence, and being energetic about your work will assist you with remaining propelled during difficult times.
Constant learning: Never quit learning and extending your insight. Remain refreshed on industry patterns, economic situations, and new advances applicable to your business.
Go to studios, read books, pay attention to web recordings, and associate with coaches who can direct you on your enterprising excursion.
Construct areas of strength: Encircle yourself with a different organisation of experts, coaches, consultants, and individual business visionaries.
Systems administration can give significant open doors to cooperation, learning, and development. Go to industry occasions, join business venture networks, and influence virtual entertainment stages to interface with similar people.
Embrace disappointment and flexibility: Comprehend that disappointment is a piece of the pioneering venture.
Embrace disappointments as growth opportunities and open doors for development. adapt flexibility to return from misfortunes, adjust to evolving conditions, and continue on notwithstanding challenges.
Balance between fun and serious activities: While business venture requests difficult work and devotion, it’s significant to keep a solid balance between fun and serious activities.
Deal with your physical and mental prosperity, invest energy with friends and family, and seek after side interests beyond work. Enjoying reprieves and re-energizing can really improve your efficiency and inventiveness.
Remember, every entrepreneur’s journey is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success. Stay persistent, learn from your experiences, and always be willing to adapt and grow.
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