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Why homegrown Indian start-ups are signing up to power the IPL in the UAE

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The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, which will kick off in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, will have many more ‘firsts’, besides being the first outing without live spectators.

In a major break from the past, IPL 2020 will be powered by a clutch of India’s home grown start-ups through various event and team sponsorships, egging out the big brands of FMCG, consumer products and financial sectors.

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This time around, companies with Middle East connections will also be vying with Indian brands for eyeballs and consumer awareness during the two-month cricket carnival.

Indian fashion and apparel platform Myntra, which has partnered with Noon and Namshi – two of Middle East’s leading e-commerce players – last week announced its partnership with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), one of the top T20 franchises of IPL.

Myntra, which will be RCB’s exclusive fashion partners for the T20 cricketing event, will have its logo displayed on shirts throughout the tournament.

Significantly, Myntra’s maiden association with IPL comes close on the heels of its foray into the UAE market through the Noon and Namshi partnership deals.

Indian retail majors LuLu Group and Dabur are two other companies which have moved to associate with this year’s IPL in the UAE.

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Both the companies, however, are yet to announce their final plans.

“The appeal for fashion and sports cuts across geographies,” Amar Nagaram, CEO of Myntra, said.

“It gives us the perfect platform to connect with a varied set of audiences who bond over the spirit of T20 cricket that is considered a festival in itself,” added the boss of Myntra, now part of the US retail major Walmart.

Retail industry experts said Indian companies could derive massive benefits from an association with IPL in terms of the reach and visibility for their brands, both in the GCC and the Indian markets.

“It can actually bring double-benefit to Indian companies with Middle East presence in terms of brand building both in UAE and in India,” Harminder Sahni, founder and managing director of Wazir Advisors, a leading Indian management consultancy, told Arabian Business.

As for unicorns and start-ups, experts said the move to jump on the IPL bandwagon could be with the twin objectives of brand building and access to more potential investors.

Dream Sports, the parent company of this year’s title sponsor for IPL, announced on Monday it had secured fresh funding of $225 million from Tiger Global Management, TPG Tech Adjacencies (TTAD), ChrysCapital and Footpath Ventures.

Edutech unicorn Unacademy, credit card payment app CRED, payment wallet Paytm, gaming start-up Mobile Premier League (MPL) and online travel and tour aggregator MakeMyTrip are among other Indian grown start-ups associated with this year’s IPL.

IPL is scheduled to be held between September 19 and November 8 in the UAE.