Nakul Kapur is the founder and clerk to CEO for Playnlive. As the founder, Nakul ensures everything from working of ACs in Playnlive’s office to the next deployment of their product on the website. Nakul has previously worked in the product management team at Paytm building the Paytm Wallet which is now used by more than 50 million users across India. He started off my product management journey with Oxigen Services India Pvt. Ltd in 2012 after graduating with a post graduate diploma in management from International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi. Nakul studied economics from Delhi University. He enjoys reading startup and entrepreneurial texts and is an early adopter of consumer internet products.
In your own words what is Playnlive?
Playnlive is a platform for people to discover a place to learn, play and train for sports and fitness. We inspire you to play and experience something truly amazing and mesmerizing. Our mission and vision is to make you happy. That’s what we have set out to do. Visitors can log on to Playnlive.com, select their city, select a sport/fitness activity and search for a facility near their place. Playnlive has more than 10000 sports facilities listed on the website across 5 cities. A visitor can view images of the establishment, find out the facilities available, timings, reviews, maps, contact number and email on Playnlive.
How did you come up with the idea of Playnlive?
I have always been passionate about sports and fitness. Since early days of schooling I was involved in multiple sports representing my institute in cricket, badminton and skating. I even won the zonals in badminton. During my course of education I was always part of the sports team and was always focused about my fitness.
However it was when I started working that I realise how difficult it is for anyone to find a good place to play a sport, find coaching institutes since no concrete information was available across web. It was then I decided to start Playnlive. The objective was to build a platform to help people discover places related to sports and fitness.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up Playnlive?
I started building Playnlive along with two friends in 2013 when we were discussing our love for sports at a coffee shop. I bounced off the idea to them and they were immediately ready to try their hands at it. I planned the roadmap for covering Delhi as a region first and we started ground work within next 2 weeks. However things never went as planned and it was difficult to do the visits to sports facilities with our hectic work schedule. As a result one of my friends quit in no less than 3 months. I was determined to work on it and we shipped the list of 300 verified facilities in Delhi NCR in the month of September’2013. One of the two friends is still at Playnlive and is now the co-founder.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?
Collecting and verifying the data was the most difficult task in the initial days. With limited man power, time and capital we had to really slog to cover clubs and complexes, academies for 25 sports.
Our weekdays were spent at office and it was only during weekends and post office hours that we really went and verified facilities.
Now that we have collected a lot of data about facilities available across the country, we have to regularly verify it to ensure authenticity of data available through our platform.
How have you been developing Playnlive since startup?
We were determined from the beginning to build a platform of verified facilities. Much to our surprise 15% of the facilities (coaching academies primarily) go bust every 4 months. Hence in addition to the new data we have to continuously verify the existing database. In the past 12 months of our official operations we have verified more than 10k facilities across 5 cities and our now all set to take the next big leap in powering bookings for these facilities. I certainly believe in dreaming big but taking small steps in achieving the same. After all its easy to burn money but very difficult to create value out of whatever little you have ☺
What kind of feedback did you get for Playnlive so far?
We have got an overwhelming response for Playnlive. Past 6 months have been phenomenal. Our main motive was always to build a platform to help facility owners get genuine leads. On the consumer side we were determined to provide correct and to the point information. As a result we have powered more than 50k happy customers so far.
What is your strategy against your competition?
Competition is healthy and I am excited to see a lot of players jumping into this space. Its always good to work in a tough environment when you have to earn every rupee. It helps you to be on your toes all the time plus you constantly strive to innovate to maintain your lead.
I personally never focus much on our merchants. We have built a roadmap after interacting with our merchants and users. No one knows better than them! Your paying user/merchant can fire you anyday by paying someone else. Why care for anyone else?
Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?
It is highly unorganised. The fitness centres owners hardly meet since they handle multiple businesses and sports owners are usually on the ground. Best of the facilities believe in getting traffic from 3km radius only. Counter to this our research has shown that people don’t mind travelling an extra mile if its worth it.
We are trying to add technology to this space by powering an integral solution for the sports and fitness centre owners.
How do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?
We have been doing discovery of sports facility and fitness centres. Soon we are launching Playnlive PASS which is a booking platform. Going forward we will build a platform for sports and fitness enthusiasts to interact among one other and build an uber for sports and fitness. Its important to stay grounded and learn from the customers in building a product. I am sure our ever growing community members would help us with insights to shape the next product.
I personally spend a lot of time on the field and data analysis to understand user behaviour.
What is the future of the industry in your opinion?
People are becoming more and more health conscious day by day and taking up at least one sporting activity for the sake of fitness. This industry is still taking baby steps and it is a matter of time when you see hockey stick building up in the user growth online. Currently the market runs completely offline where people rely on friends, family, Whatsapp groups etc for this information. There is a huge market waiting to be moved online to help make an informed choice for services related to sports, health and fitness.
Were there anything that disappointed you initially?
I cannot count the no. of times I have been disappointed in this journey. Things never go as planned which leads to disappointment. You achieve your objective only when you get up every time you fall. Did I ever complain to anyone? NO. I always consoled myself, got up and worked further harder.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?
Its hard being an entrepreneur. You have to crack the product market fit to get attention of the investors and the market. I am sure it is the same across the globe. I believe the startup community is very matured across west which helps in quick growth through early adopters, influencers, % of online market, investors. But all this acts as a catalyst only when you have built and tested the MVP.
What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?
I am not experienced enough to comment on this. Haven’t ever interacted with entrepreneurs from the West. Would not like to add to the theotrical gyan already floating across the web. I don’t have first hand experience so it would not be justified ☺
What is your definition of success?
For me success is over-rated. I live my life for goals; short term and long term. As soon I achieve one, I move on my journey to achieve something else. There are moments of sadness and happiness but I don’t know what you classify as success?
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I guess ever since I started taking my life seriously, I was determined to be an entrepreneur. I have experimented in my school days by running stalls at Diwali Mela to make quick money for short term objectives. I remember selling passes of stage shows across Delhi University and making margin by buying early and selling at the last minute.
So much so that I completed my formal education only to get good grasp of basic concepts and build my network. It is because of my education and network that I am confident of building Playnlive into one of the largest platform for sports and fitness enthusiasts across the globe.
What do you think are the most important things entrepreneurs should keep in mind?
As an entrepreneur you will face roadblocks every hour. If someone is telling you anything different, he is LYING. I have days, hours, minutes of depression but this quote from Jack Ma gets me back on track: Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine. You have to hang on there waiting for your day after tomorrow!
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
Some of the most important keys to entrepreneurial success are: (3Ps and H) patience, persistence, perseverance and humility.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there?
Do not wait for the right time. Time is always right! Just get out and do it. Don’t fancy funding, money, fame, spend time on the ground with your customers and build a product aftermarket feedback. DON’T BUILD WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT! It should always be backed by careful analysis.