Dobaal’s story is interesting. After screwing up the IIT-JEE, he still managed to get Elec B. Tech at IIT Madras. For four years he learnt Electrical engineering and when it was all over, he could never get to use it anywhere. After passing out in 2005, he joined CapOne in US which marked his entry into the world of finance. After one and a half years he shifted to HSBC as an (assistant) Vice President of the Credit Card Department. And then he did something that many don’t do. He came back to India to start his own company IndiaKhelo, which shall soon be launched (November 2008). But something happened between the last job and this would-be launch. Read this story to find what.
I was very sure that I didn’t want to call him Prashant (his real name being Prashant Pittie) when I called him up few hours ago. We shared the same wing in Narmada, when at IIT. Dobaal he was, and Dobaal he shall always be – for me and for the rest of those who have known him since the IIT days.
In March 2007, when Dobaal was still working for HSBC, he happened to watch the India-Bangladesh match where India lost. Dobaal went WTF. How could India lose out to Bangladesh? The reason could have been anything from mere bad luck for the Indians – to lack of good practice. However, Dobaal was convinced that the problem was rooted deep. He knew one thing for sure – that there were many more players out there in India, and some of them could definitely do a better job than those who were playing for India currently – that there was a passion that existed in every state, every town, every village, every locality. Later when IPL happened, his conviction was proved true. However what he planned to do was not same as what IPL had been successful at, or even aimed at.
Dobaal realized that he could do something to organize these local players and these local games, and that he could do so beyond cricket.
Do you remember your first sports team that you played with – your muhalle ki team, wasn’t it? Does anyone have a record of who won or who lost? Did anyone see that game? Dobaal realized that he could do something to organize these local players and these local games, and that he could do so beyond cricket. Thus evolved the idea of Indiakhelo and today he is all set to launch it. Indiakhelo lets any team (for any sports) register itself on the site and play matches against other registered teams. In short, Indiakhelo keeps a track of every small team in India that plays anything against any other team. And it need not only be your muhalle-ki-team – it could be your class VII-B ki team, your school team, your regional team – any team that registers itself as a team on the site. This to me sounded like book-keeping, which ensured that good efforts were registered, for everyone to know. Of course, he has plans beyond that like that of organizing specific matches where hand-picked players get to play.
Indiakhelo keeps a track of every small team in India that plays anything against any other team.
So did Dobaal get up one fine morning and decided that he wanted to stop working for someone else? No, it wasn’t that simple. Once he had the basic idea, he started donating more time to evolve it, without quitting his job. He started meeting sportspersons – big or small and asked them only two basic questions: 1. How could he make them fall in love with Indiakhelo? 2. Had Indiakhelo been there five years before, how could it have helped these sports-people? And he met more than 500 sportsperson in this process. So although the first idea came in early 2007, Dobaal knew he was ready to quit his job at HSBC only recently this year in May.
He started meeting sportspersons – big or small and asked them only two basic questions: 1. How could he make them fall in love with Indiakhelo? 2. Had Indiakhelo been there five years before, how could it have helped these sports-people?
As you try questioning him over financial sustainability, chances of false registries, etc. you realize that he has thought about almost everything and has a solution already installed.
He never had to recall elec gyaan after passing out from IIT. But was there anything that IIT gave him? Confidence – says he: ‘What did we do while at IIT? Almost nothing – gen wasted our time. And in spite of that, most of us kept doing good in life, right? So this gave me the confidence that even if I waste two more years, what’s the big deal!’. So yes, like me and like most of us who have been in IIT, he too admits IIT helped him grow as a person.
There was one last question that I had to ask him – he was already earning enough money with a good lifestyle and all that. Why then did he have to start his own company? Pat came the reply – ‘I took the decision not because of money but because of my passion to change the sports-scenario of India. It’s good that Indians have started getting medals at Olympics – but a share of 0.1% by a country which shares 16% of population – is nothing to be proud of. I want to ignite local patriotism for sports and present sports as a talent show to the Indians’.
I took the decision not because of money but because of my passion to change the sports-scenario of India.
Let us all wish that Dobaal succeeds in his endeavor and let us all hope that every Indian who plays any sport, starts getting his efforts recognized by the rest of us. Let us hope that IndiaKhelo indeed delivers what it promises to.