Sports enthusiast launched sports startup with Rs 1 lakh borrowed money, built Rs 40 Cr valued business

Push Sports Founders at Shark Tank India Season 3

Push Sports was launched in 2016 by Puru Singh and then joined by Nitin Pahuja and Mukul Grover. The Delhi-based sports-tech startup is striving to incorporate sports into the lives of students and professionals for a healthier and happier life.  

The co-founder, Puru Singh, shared the startup journey with Startup Pedia in a candid conversation.  

Having been part of the aviation industry, Puru Sigh recalled his rooted love for sports, mainly cricket, which made him quit his fancy job as a cabin crew at 33. After quitting the aviation job where he was earning around a lakh per month, Puru had to start from scratch, and his search for a job in the sports industry left him with not many options to explore. 

He explained that cricket had few opportunities back then – coaching in academies offered a meagre income of Rs 25,000 per month.  

Despite playing for Delhi for seven years and being the highest wicket-taker in the North zone at 23, there was no pathway forward. There was no IPL, no opportunities. Even someone playing in Ranji Trophy was earning less than Rs. 10,000 per game back then. 

The journey of Push Sports was initially started by Puru himself in 2016. Puru recalled the time when co-founder Nitin Pahuja approached him to join as a business partner. 

Six years ago, when I posted a photo on Facebook featuring small kids in jerseys that read, ‘I pushed my limits. What about you?’. Nitin saw the picture and expressed his interest in coming on board and investing,” said Delhi-based co-founder.

Nitin was the captain of Yes Bank Cricket Team and Puru was the venue manager in one of the grounds where Nitin’s team used to play. 

He is skilled and passionate about sports. In 2020, Nitin resigned from his corporate job as senior vice president and joined Push Sports full-time as a co-founder. 

The duo together embarked on the journey to make Push Sports a definition of change in the sports industry. Speaking of the sports startup, Puru defined that they envision the organisation as a behemoth of a sports organisation working in the grassroots. 

How does Push Sports function? 

 Puru Singh, Nitin Pahuja and Mukul Grove - Co-founders Push Sports
Puru Singh, Nitin Pahuja and Mukul Grove – Co-founders Push Sports

Working prominently in five domains, Push Sports, India’s new playground, provides aid to build world-class arenas, structured technology-led training, gamified assessment tools, digital assessment reports, and a sustainable ecosystem. 

Talking about the elements of what the venture delivers, Puru mentioned that the business provides training in more than ten sports including cricket, skating, football, badminton, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo and basketball. The startup’s core area is sports coaching, which has two main verticals: in-school and after-school sports programmes. 

The methodology involves tailoring students’ Physical Training (PT) periods to their preferences. We enlist qualified coaches who leverage free periods for team-building through talent identification. Moreover, we conduct quarterly assessments and provide report cards using our tools to track progress. The sports program adheres to a thorough annual curriculum, nurturing skill development in specific sports for the children,” The co-founder of the sports startup clarified.

After-school training is for everyone, including students, hyperlocal youth and adults. 

Push Sports operates on the build, Train and Monetise model. In the Build phase, the Delhi-based startup focuses on creating infrastructure and establishing a sports culture in schools of premium quality. The Train phase involves running school sports programs during and after school.

The last model, which is the monetise phase, includes generating revenue through fixed rentals to schools for using their playgrounds. 

Journey of Push Sports

Puru Singh - Founder Push Sports
Puru Singh – Founder Push Sports

Initially, Puru started Push Sports only as a cricket academy in Gurgaon at Sushant University. At that time, starting the academy required a substantial investment of lakhs of rupees. However, he started with just about Rs 1 lakh borrowed from someone. 

The Sushant University Academy needed two nets, and the rent alone was Rs. 20,000-25,000 for the playground. Additionally, making a wicket did cost about Rs. 40,000. Back then, the sports startup used to have only 10 students in the academy. 

“However, my vision was always broader – to open more centres and create a chain of academies. I wasn’t sure how it would happen, but I was determined to grow. That’s when Nitin came into the picture, and things began falling in place,” said Puru. 

Nitin Pahuja - Co-founder Push Sports
Nitin Pahuja – Co-founder Push Sports

With Nitin joining, things became easier as Puru was able to focus more on coaching and operational things. From marketing, finance, and social media to fundraising, Nitin took charge of all the realms important for the sports startup. 

In the first year of the sports startup, it had only one academy with 60 students. In the second year after Nitin’s joining, the startup had two academies with 150 students. In 2020, before the pandemic hit, the startup had 300 students. 

Covid-19 pandemic challenge

Every business navigates its own path of success and hardships, shedding light on when their academy almost went to having 0 students out of 300. Puru spoke of the halt Covid-19 pandemic brought in when their startup was finally catching up the speed. 

We did not have money to pay rent for the school playgrounds we had taken on rent. Since the pandemic-led lockdown restrictions took months to uplift, we had no idea what to do at that time,” expressed Puru.  

Ever since its establishment, Push Sports has trained 7000 students and established playgrounds at 17 locations, including schools and colleges across Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Jaipur and Sonipat. 

Out of 7000 students, about 20 students of Push Sports have competed at the national level in various sports. 

What started with just Rs 1 lakh, the company is now valued at Rs 40 crore. Push Sports has generated Rs 3 crore revenue in FY-2022-23. In the FY 2023-24, the startup is expected to clock Rs 9 crore in revenue. 

Push Sports-Infrastructure
Push Sports-Infrastructure

Funding for Push Sports

The startup raised Rs 2.20 crore in strategic funding in November 2022. Moreover, it appeared on Shark Tank India season 3 and secured a significant investment of Rs 80 lakh in exchange for 4% equity. 

The funding, led by Peyush Bansal (Co-founder of LensKart) and Vineeta Singh (CEO of Sugar Cosmetics), will fuel the startup’s growth by strengthening its team and expanding into more cities.

Values and Vision of Push Sports

The engaging title Push Sports literally evokes the idea of pushing the value of sports in people’s lives. Speaking of the intent behind the startup, Puru shared, “Beyond pushing sports into the lives of people, we also aspire to create a thought process- Sports is equally important as education. We live in an era where everyone is jostling for work, followed by job-related stress. To reduce that pressure, we have created places where you can come back from your hectic schedule and de-stress by playing sports.” 

Taking lessons from his difficult experiences of finding a good job as a sports coach, Puru, in his startup, also aimed to bring a paradigm shift in the landscape of the coaching industry. “We pay our coaches among the best in the business. Coaches who started with just 6,000 rupees are now earning 50,000-60,000 in just 5-6 years,” said the co-founder of Push Sports. 

Push Sports Coach
Push Sports Coach

Moving towards the end of the conversation, Puru outlined the long-term vision and plans and said that the sports startup aims to bring top-notch sports coaching to more children across various schools and communities. 

By fostering a culture of sports and fitness, we want to contribute to the overall development of the youth,” signed off Puru Singh

FAQs

What is Push Sports? 

Push Sports is a technology-led sports education platform aimed at improving the grassroots sports ecosystem of the country.

Who are the founders of Push Sports? 

Puru Singh, Nitin Pahuja and Mukul Grover are the co-founders of Push Sports

Has Push Sports received funding from Shark Tank? 

Push Sports has also appeared on Shark Tank India season 3 and secured an investment of Rs 80 lakh in exchange for 4% equity. They are raising a larger round now at a valuation of Rs 40 Cr.

What is the revenue of Push Sports? 

Push Sports has generated Rs 3 crore revenue in FY-2022-23. In the FY 2023-24, the startup is expected to clock Rs 8.25 crore in revenue. 

What is the valuation of Push Sports? 

What started with just Rs 1 lakh currently, the company is valued at Rs 40 crore. 

Where are Push Sports Arenas located?  

Currently, Push Sports Arenas are available at 17 locations, including schools and colleges across Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Jaipur and Sonipat.