27 March 2024

Dream11: A Fantasy Cricket Fairytale – From Two Friends to a Billion Dollar Dream


Imagine a world where you can be the owner of a cricket team, not just watching from the stands, but actively picking your players and strategizing for victory.

This isn’t a dream reserved for billionaires; it’s the reality millions of Indians experience thanks to Dream11, a homegrown company that turned fantasy cricket into a national obsession.


Harsh Jain, Bhavit Sheth of Dream11: Living the dream

The story of Dream11 begins in 2008, not in a corporate office with fancy suits, but in the minds of two young cricket enthusiasts – Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth.

Both just 22 years old, they were captivated by the idea of fantasy sports leagues gaining popularity around the world. These leagues allowed fans to build virtual teams of real-life athletes, with their on-field performances translating into points for the virtual team. The more runs a player scored or wickets they took, the higher your virtual team climbed the leaderboard.

The Indian Premier League (IPL), a high-octane cricket tournament launched that same year, was the perfect spark. Harsh and Bhavit saw a golden opportunity – to create a similar fantasy sports platform for cricket-crazy India.

Early Days

Dhoni of the Chennai Super Kings hits out during the Indian Premier League IPL Qualifier Final match between the Delhi Capitals and the Chennai Super...

Their initial idea was an ad-supported season-long fantasy game. However, they soon realized it wasn’t quite hitting the right notes with the audience. People craved a more dynamic and fast-paced experience.

In 2012, they made a crucial decision that would change the game (literally!). Dream11 shifted its focus to daily fantasy games. This allowed users to create teams specifically for individual matches, experiencing the thrill of competition in real-time as their virtual players battled it out on the field.

Building the Dream Team: User-Centric Design and Cricket Royalty

Dream11’s success isn’t just about the fantasy cricket concept; it’s about how they built it. They made the platform user-friendly and accessible, even for those unfamiliar with complex fantasy sports formats. Here’s a deeper look at the key ingredients that fueled Dream11’s growth:

  • Freemium Model: Dream11 offered a free-to-play option alongside paid contests with higher rewards. This allowed everyone to participate and get a taste of the excitement without any financial risk. It was like having a practice match before entering the big leagues.
  • Focus on User Experience: A smooth interface and easy-to-use features made navigating the platform a breeze. Imagine being able to pick your players and join contests with just a few clicks – that’s the kind of user experience Dream11 prioritized.
  • Cricket Legends as Brand Ambassadors: Dream11 knew the power of celebrity. They roped in iconic cricketers like Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli to promote the platform. These cricket stars have a massive fan following in India, and their association with Dream11 instantly added a layer of trust and excitement for potential users.

 Dream11’s Rise to the Top


Dream11’s story is more than just a company’s growth; it’s a tale of perfect timing, strategic choices, and a deep understanding of the Indian cricket fan. Let’s delve deeper into this phenomenal journey:

The Initial Climb: From a Dorm Room to Millions of Screens

Harsh and Bhavit started small, bootstrapping their initial concept. They likely used readily available resources, working from a dorm room or a co-working space.

Their initial season-long fantasy game wasn’t a runaway success, but it was a valuable learning experience. It highlighted the Indian audience’s preference for faster-paced and more action-packed experiences.

The shift to daily fantasy games in 2012 was a turning point. This move coincided with the growing popularity of mobile internet and smartphones in India. Dream11 capitalized on this perfectly, making their platform easily accessible on these devices.

Building a Loyal Fanbase: The Freemium Model and User Experience

harsh jain dream11

Dream11 understood that not everyone who loved cricket would be comfortable putting real money into a fantasy game. The freemium model they adopted was a masterstroke. It allowed users to experience the core gameplay mechanics for free, understand the scoring system, and build their virtual teams. This free tier acted as a gateway, encouraging users to participate in paid contests for a chance at bigger rewards.

Focus on User Experience: Dream11 didn’t just offer a fantasy game; they offered a smooth and enjoyable user experience. The platform was designed to be intuitive and easy to navigate, even for those unfamiliar with complex fantasy sports formats.

Imagine a user interface that’s clean, uncluttered, and allows you to pick your players and join contests within minutes – that’s the kind of user experience Dream11 prioritized.

Cricket Legends and Brand Power: Cricket is a religion in India, and its stars are revered like celebrities. Dream11 understood this cultural connection and strategically brought on board iconic cricketers like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli as brand ambassadors.

These players not only promoted the platform but also lent it an air of trust and credibility, especially for users who were new to fantasy sports.

From Cricket to a Multi-Sport Powerhouse

20ms dhoni

Dream11’s success with cricket wasn’t a fluke. They leveraged their user base and platform to expand into other popular sports in India, like football and kabaddi. This diversification allowed them to cater to a wider audience and further solidify their position as the leading fantasy sports platform in the country.

Beyond a Billion: The Global Dream

With over 100 million users in India, Dream11 has set its sights on a global audience. Cricket has a passionate following worldwide, and Dream11 is well-positioned to take its fantasy sports experience to cricket fans across the globe.

They’re constantly exploring ways to adapt their platform for international markets, considering factors like local preferences and languages.

From a Simple Idea to a Billion Dollar Dream


Dream11’s journey is an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. It showcases the power of a simple idea, fueled by a deep understanding of the target audience and a willingness to adapt and innovate. They didn’t just create a game; they created a community of cricket enthusiasts who can experience the thrill of the sport in a whole new way.

Dream11’s story is far from over. With their focus on user experience, constant innovation, and global ambitions, they are poised to continue their dominance in the fantasy sports industry for years to come.

The Dream11 story is an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and a testament to the power of passion and innovation. It shows that with a focus on user experience, a clear vision, and the ability to adapt, even the simplest idea can become a billion-dollar dream!

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