Anil Singh, Vivek B. Singh, Founders Procam And Creators Of The Tata Mumbai Marathon On The Growing Sport Industry in India

Anil Singh, Vivek B. Singh, Founders Procam – The Fast Growing Sport Ecosystem & Industry in India

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Gandhi

Anil Singh and Vivek B. Singh are brothers, entrepreneurs and the founders of Procam International. Founded in 1988, Procam is a leading sports organisation committed to elevate and enliven the professional face of sports and players. With an open, transparent culture founded on an unshakeable core of integrity, Procam offers turnkey 360 solutions for the wide spectrum of services required to successfully conduct premium sporting and ecosystem events. Procam International has pioneered crafting sporting events in India, boasting massive participation of supreme calibre in 50 fast growing events held worldwide. Procam has been building a sports, wellness and lifestyle community.

Interview Focus

1. An introduction from you – background, overview, education…
2. Transformation and sports in India
3. About Procam: vision and goals
4. Data and digital footprints models
5. Charity work
6. Countries and Sports revolution

Quotes and Highlights

· Background and family from a Parsi mother and a sikh father – different culture. Our lives have always been linked to sports. When we were kids, we grew up in sports clubs.

· In 1988 there was no structured sports industry in India. The journey of Procam, our company, has gone hand-in-hand with the sport evolution in India. We started Procam with the Indian number 1 tennis player. And so we started doing tennis events in the beginning. And it was successful and we wanted to keep promoting events like this so we thought it was going to be great to create a national-wide tv channel only for sports. From there, we had a head start in doing sports events in India.

· India is really different from any other country in the world. We have so many different rituals, traditions, culture and we see things in our own way. And sports events are no different. That is why everything we have done since the beginning took that into consideration. We wanted to do something that added value to society and that has been one of our pillars until now.

· Despite cricket, hockey and football are also important sports in India. 30 years ago, when we started in this sector, we asked for a research and we found that hockey and football was going to grow much more than cricket. In fact, cricket was bubbled. Research suggested that hockey and football back then were more followed than cricket. However, cricket started to take off thanks – especially from 2007 -, as a new league was created and the good work of various league admins.

· We have our tv channel right now and we understand the power of sports and its social impact. Now in India we have 12 specific sport channels, viewers are growing every year, people are also more involved in sports, either by playing them or following their favourite team in the stadiums. We are witnessing a true sport revolution in India.

· There are marathons happening all around the world, some countries have many of them. So we asked ourselves why there aren’t marathons in India? So we embarked on the mission to create a marathon here in India. It took us a long time and a lot of effort just to get enough support to do it. We had to contact athletes, sport schools, city officials, sponsors, etc before being able to do the first marathon in 2003 in Mumbai.

· And we created something that couldn’t be found anywhere else, the dream run. We really wanted to have that marathon created and we wanted it to be massive. All our efforts went toward doing that big and making people involved in the thousands.

· The Mumbai marathon was kind of a game changer in India, especially in running, awareness and healthcare. Now more than 700 million according to latest surveys, are practising running and are more preoccupied about their health while knowing the importance of sports for their wellbeing. These numbers only started after the Mumbai marathon. Running is the perfect example of a democratic uprising.

· Women never used to practice running before. And now women practice running as a usual activity in their lives.

· Social giving is a big thing in India. We knew that and in the Mumbai marathon we raised a lot of money for charity reasons. We have that in everything we do and it changed the way sports is perceived. People started to see the good that sports could bring too.

· We have three running events that are top in the world right now, starting from the Mumbai marathon. And the idea is to keep improving in the future.

· An important part of our job was to give something back to society. So we wanted our marathons and events to have a social impact. Our idea has alway been to partner with charities that empower people, NGOs, etc. Marathons started all of this and we wanted to take it to a different level since the beginning. Part of the profits from some of our marathons go straight to charity work.

· We were contacted by an organization that were involved in disability and other support projects. And they wanted to use our platform to connect with as most people as possible and spread the word of what they were doing. That is an example of the power of marathons.

· Use of data. We use data to try to make people’s life better. Data allows that, to connect and build communities and people with the same interests. Through Procam, we are able to connect with millions of people in the participating sport space.

· One example would be that data allows us to track important information. For example, working out sessions, so then people could use that to their advantage, to become better and push them to new limits. We are talking about health, sport, financial, etc. Data can make a difference to the quality of life for the people.

· We launched a new event this year. A marathon event where people could run wherever they were. We created a platform with GPS tracking that would be able to record their performance. So thanks to data and digital means we could create a sport event that allowed people to participate wherever they were in the country.

· In India, running has become a whole trend, fostering jobs, clubs and an ecosystem in itself. In fact, events, not only sport events, have been recognized as one soft power of India and the government has realized its importance to bring people together and drive economic growth.

· If I have to send a message for new entrepreneurs, I have to say that what you do need to have is a social component and follow your moral compass. Of course it has to be commercial and provide profit but it also needs to provide value.

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Context and Size of the global sports and Indian market

The global sports industry is a fast growing industry. The last mainstream numbers show that in 2018, the global sports market was valued at approximately 471 billion U.S. dollars but these numbers lack a lot of the social impact of sports and the increasing wellness crossroad and alignments. These numbers will increase much more as sports become the global epicentre of cities and social fabric change. In contrast, the market was valued at 324 billion U.S. dollars in 2011. The United States is still the biggest market as it held a 32.5 percent share of the global sports market in 2018. The next 20 years will show other countries such as China and specifically India emerge as global sports powerhouses.

The market size of the emerging sports industry across India was over 77 billion Indian rupees – 1,018,147,900.00 in 2018. But these numbers miss the ecosystem. Cricket alone is a 1 billion usd industry ecosystem.

The indian Marathons in particular are major social events in India and gather huge engagement. As sports grow in size and engagementment India is emerging as a sports giant and the majority of the media consumption in the sports industry is carried out by the Indian Premier League. Recently there are over 12 TV sports and domestic leagues like Pro Kabbadi and the Indian Super League have increased in popularity.

Procam has been one of the leading organisations building the indian sports revolution. Their initiatives have been creating not only some of the biggest sports events but also a social movement that has changed the social giving scene in india.

About Anil Singh, Vivek B. Singh and Procam International

Anil Singh and Vivek B. Singh are brothers and the founders of Procam International.

Founded in 1988, Procam is a leading sports organisation committed to elevate and enliven the professional face of sports and players. With an open, transparent culture founded on an unshakeable core of integrity, Procam offers turnkey 360 solutions for the wide spectrum of services required to successfully conduct premium sporting and ecosystem events. Procam International has pioneered crafting sporting events in India, boasting massive participation of supreme calibre in 50 fast growing events held worldwide. Procam has been building a sports, wellness and lifestyle community.

Procam International is the company that promotes the iconic TATA Mumbai Marathon, Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, TCS World 10k Bengaluru and the Tata Steel Kolkata 25k. A series of marathons with a turnover of $18 / 20 million a year. Procam’s legacy of sporting assets include The Mahindra World Open Squash, The World BodyBuilding Championships, WWE India to name a few.

Anil, Vivek B. Singh and Procam scored another notable achievement – seeding a global sport from India. The Nexa P1 Powerboat Indian Grand Prix of the Seas was P1’s first world championship. The best powerboat pilots in the world congregated in Mumbai’s Marine Drive to race while lakhs of citizens filled the promenade for 3 days of the race weekend to witness the birth of a new paradigm in sport.

The Nexa P1 Powerboat grand prix has been credited with some notable firsts that includes the world’s first course on water (a physical track created on water) close to shore racing in an affordable race-ready powerboat that will exponentially expand the appeal of the sport beyond those at the top of the economic pyramid. A live telecast of the races augmented for the first time in India by a genuine second screen experience (gamified race in real time on every mobile smart phone). Lastly creating a global structure and format specifically designed to ensure the sport stands the test of time.

Anil and Vivek’s success is built on 4 factors. An evolved roadmap with clear strategy for each property, an extraordinary surround for the marketing dollar, supreme accountability and inclusiveness.

Having founded India’s first pure-play sports promotion company, Anil and Vivek B. Singh are authorities when it comes to the business of brand sponsorships in sports. The last 28 years have seen Procam forging successful partnerships with over 200 Indian and multinational brands across its sporting properties.

The social impact of Procam’s sporting endeavors is unrivalled. The distance running events have helped over 700 non-profits raise over Rs 350 crores (55 million USD), making it India’s largest platform for charity.

Procam & Distance Running

Procam is the pioneer in promoting and conducting world class international distance running events in India. The distance running journey started with the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in year 2004, now known as the Tata Mumbai Marathon (ranked amongst the top 10 marathons in the world), followed by the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in year 2005 (world’s most prestigious half marathon), TCS World 10K Bengaluru in year 2008 (world’s premier 10K run) and the year 2014 was the birth of Tata Steel Kolkata 25K (world’s only World Athletics labelled 25 km race). All 4 events are ratified by the International Association Athletics Federations, certified by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Running (AIMS), conducted under the aegis of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

These events are the only four World Athletics Label races in the country – Road Race Labels are accorded to a running event for its operational excellence.

Procam promoted running events were established on the following objectives from their very inception:

(a) Pride to the host city – all four events are a showcase of the pride and heritage of the host city with them being telecast live on Star Sports. These events have put India on the international distance running calendar.

(b) To promote health and fitness – the exponential increase in the number of distance running events in India, the number of Run Clubs mushrooming across the country, are a testimony of running slowly being adopted as the healthy lifestyle.

(c) Communal Harmony – They believe that the roads are the biggest levelers. Irrespective of gender, caste, religion, economic strata, running belongs to all.

(d) Philanthropy – these events have created a paradigm shift in mindsets, especially towards

giving. All four events are the biggest sporting platforms for philanthropy in India.

(e) Boost to Indian Athletes – Indian athletes no more need to travel overseas to test themselves against the best in the world, as the events see some of the best international long and middle distance running athletes competing in them.

Running & Philanthropy

Procam running races are also the biggest sporting platforms for ‘philanthropy’ in India. 17 years ago, ‘giving’ in India was largely for political or religious causes, with a handful of financially endowed philanthropists who contributed to society. The participatory nature of these running events, and the opportunities created therein, have been the game changers. Procam events have recognized the power of thousands coming together on a sporting platform for reasons beyond race, religion, gender, financial status, and created a conducive environment to enable charitable giving. They have created a paradigm shift in mindsets towards giving, encouraging citizens to support and engage with the civil society organisations, who create the last mile impact in our civil societies.

All four running events are cause-neutral and encourage legitimate NGOs to use them as fundraising and promotion platforms for their work, giving an individual and corporate fundraiser a range of causes to choose from. Since the first marathon in 2004, over ₹ 442 crores funds have been raised by more than 800 NGOs directly, impacting millions!

Out of the pillars mentioned above, the Philanthropy pillar is the most measurable. In order to drive and monitor the philanthropy aspect of the events, Procam has partnered with two enabling NGOs/Trusts, giving them the status of official Philanthropy Partner to respective events – United Way Mumbai – for the Tata Mumbai Marathon India Cares Foundation – for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, TCS World 10K Bengaluru and Tata Steel Kolkata 25K.

For an NGO to participate and fundraise through an event, the NGO must register with the

Philanthropy Partner by submitting certain legal documents, and against a nominal fee. It is important to note here that all charity funds raised at the Event go through the Philanthropy Partner and/or the NGO, as the case may be; no amount passing through the Promoter under any circumstance.

Fundraising at Procam promoted events. The philanthropy structure gives ample opportunity for just about anyone to use these running platforms to support a cause and raise funds for the chosen cause/NGO, be it a company or an individual. Almost 25% of the running spots are allotted for charity at events. Depending upon which event one participates in, there are 5 broad ways in which one can fundraise.

Individual Fundraising

Crowd fundraising is encouraged. Any individual (who may or may not be running at an Event) can support an NGO by creating a fundraising page on the website of the Philanthropy Partner, and reaching out to friends, family and peers for donations. Donations can also be collected offline through cheques/ DDs. Donations received are accumulated and disbursed to the intended NGOs by the Philanthropy Partner post race day, or periodically where the Tata Mumbai Marathon is concerned.

To encourage individual fundraising, the philanthropy structure provides for rewarding efforts,

provided by Procam. Viz. official event kitting, hosted at the Procam Marquee, media exposure for self and benefitted NGO, priority start, etc.

Over the years, individual fundraising is growing – more than 60% of funds raised are by individuals.

Also, another encouraging trend is when the youth takes up to a social cause and decides to make a positive change. Young people below the age of 21 years fundraising at running events, too, have increased.

While the philanthropy structure specifies the modes of receiving funds raised, the methodology is left to individuals (in fact even companies). Creativity is encouraged. The advantages of social networking platforms as a methodology of mass outreach is understood and used optimally, not only by fundraisers, but also by NGOs.

Procams Digital platforms and strategy

Procam has been building a whole host of digital platforms that engage around 32 million users’ networks. The work of Procam in digital and data include analytics platforms that deliver analytics on performance, content platforms that will help runners better their performance, answer questions about nutrition, fitness, training through blogs, long form content, Videos and Podcasts. Procam has access to the best specialists in India and from around the world through their events and platforms. Procam offers storytelling through videos and podcasts of people who are making a difference through sports. Deliver Personalisation at scale and deliver keepsake videos and insights on runners personal performance through personalised videos 24 hrs after the race. The company wants to leverage the digital medium to create, cultivate and engage an active mindset audience and fast growing industry and community in India.

Procam is a large stake holder in one of the largest Registration platforms focused at the active lifestyle audience in India and has a Blog called Finishermag for those who want to consume content focused on active lifestyle.

Other than these two platforms the other procam platforms revolve around the 4 events.

The 4 races of Procam have a really engaged online community. The Tata Mumbai Marathon Facebook fan Page is the 7th largest Marathon page in the world. The Digital Platforms offer a variety of touchpoints to engage the runners throughout the year. The websites for the races gets over 2.1 million unique users with over 7,5 million page views a year and offer a single point for runners to learn more about the races, its launch, race registration, race results and the philanthropy chapter. The runners register only through the website for the race and is the only way runners can apply to run any of the 4 procam races. The social media platforms for the race are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube which helps drive engagement throughout the year. Procam uses these channels to tell stories of our runners and motivate others. Curated content in the form of video, micro blogs, long form content from links to press releases, topical content, Video short stories, quizzes, and short gif games along with fitness tips and trick and contest help keep runners active and keep coming back to drive 12 million video views and 1.4 million engagements a year. The Race social media handles cater to a highly engaged audience and achieved over 190% engagements this year up from 130% engagement last year with 1.28 million Interactions.

With over 10 million video views, they use short videos to tell the stories of runners, human stories and stories of CXOs from across India who not only take time to train and get fit for gruelling races like half marathon and full marathons but take lessons from their running and apply it to their everyday work lives. They also use social media to engage the non runners and showcase the city that comes out to cheer the runners trying to finish one of the biggest events of their lives. Ordinary citizens come out early morning on sunday to cheer, motivate, and support runners from across the globe, offer water, fruits or simply egg them on to give it their best shot. The digital platform also helps us showcase people who have started running and then moved from 10Ks to half Marathons and the Marathons through the Mumkin Hai campaign, or people who simply come to express themselves or champion a cause on race day with the Run Your Way, and Run In Costume campaigns.

In 2020, the Run As One campaign enabled people to run the Tata Mumbai Marathon virtually from anywhere in India on race day and become a part of one of the largest fitness movements in the country from their respective cities. Since 2018 The My Journey Microsite has enabled runners to gain valuable insight into their performance at the race and deliver short videos using technology to deliver personalisation at scale. Within 24 hours the Microsite created nearly 26000 videos for all timed runners that contained their current race performance, broken by splits and compares it with their past performances and integrates their own 3 finish lines photos.

Links and sources