How Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain Changed Cricket

Dream11’s catchy television ads dominate the T20I World Cup telecast in India.
Neha Alawadhi finds out what the company, which takes cricket very seriously, is up to.

The Indian Premier League resumed after an unprecedented mid-tournament break due to the pandemic, and Dream11 was back in action. In May, the cricket stopped, not the planning at Dream11.

“A lot of our deadlines are tournament-driven, so we back-calculate, and plan accordingly,” says Bhavit Sheth, chief operating officer and co-founder, Dream Sports and Dream11.

“We do quarterly and six-monthly planning. Basically, once the IPL gets over, planning for the next season will begin immediately,” he adds.

From running specific analytics to load-testing for 5.5 million simultaneous users, Dream11 takes cricket very seriously.

With a user base of more than 100 million, and user concurrency of over 5.5 million, the platform has a solid backend analytics platform, much of which is built in-house.

Dream11 has an analytics, data science and data engineering team, and will hire more in the coming months.

“At an organisation level (Dream SportsDream Sports employees) in the next 15 months,” says Sheth. “Eighty per cent of them will be for core roles in tech, product and design — including front – and back – end teams — and cloud security. The remaining 20 per cent will be for other functions such as human resource, finance, legal, marketing.”

Dream11, which launched in 2008 — the same year as the inaugural edition of the IPL was held — has about 550 staff, of which about 300 are in product design. Dream Sports has around 750 workers.

Given the dearth of talent for niche roles, Sheth says the firm was willing to take longer to onboard people.

The firm is also hiring freshers from top institutes in the country for Dream11 and Dream Sports, and expects to get more young talent on board.

“Over the past 2-3 years, each IPL we burned down on the very first day (because of high traffic)… Even a small amount of downtime would mean a huge loss of revenue. We’ve gotten better at that,” says Sheth.

“One of the things we’ve done is building a more distributed architecture, and also using micro services. So, there’s never a point when we are completely down. If there is one service that goes down, it’s only one part of the platform, and not the entire thing,” Sheth explains.

The numbers reflect Sheth’s confidence. Mumbai-based Dream11, which is run by Sporta Technologies Private Limited, reported a profit of Rs 181 crore (Rs 1.81 billion) in FY2020, making it one of the few Indian consumer-tech unicorns to have turned profitable. It had recorded a loss of Rs 87.8 crore (Rs 878 million) in FY2019.

In FY20, it reported revenues of Rs 2,130 crore (Rs 21.30 billion), a 166 per cent jump from the previous financial year.

With IPL 2021, Dream Sports made many technological interventions in the background, which improved game play for users, made the service faster, increased user rewards, supported new features and improve contests.

“We also added live commentary and users can now see the score within the platform. They can see the player’s points also within the commentary,” says Sheth.

To ensure that the application runs smoothly at critical times when user traffic is high, Dream11 has a homegrown concurrency prediction model.

This model is used for predicting hourly concurrency, or the number of simultaneous users on the Dream11 platform.

With heavy traffic, there is a possibility of entry of fraudulent users.

There are times when users create multiple or duplicate accounts on the platform to abuse referral or promotional cash bonus schemes.

In such cases, we need to identify and map these multiple accounts to a single person.

To eliminate this, Dream11 has developed an in-house fraud detection system called FENCE (Fairplay Ensuring Network Chain Entity).

With T20 tournaments lined up, including the World Cup, Dream11 staff will be up for some very busy days ahead.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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