Nikhil Punde Founder & Managing Director, SparUp

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A former national level badminton player and he is also recreational Ironman triathlete

Nikhil Punde

INTERVIEW

Nikhil Punde

Former National Level Badminton Player Digitizing Sports through SparUp

Tell us about your startup SparUp

SparUp is a comprehensive digital platform for youth athletes and coaches to track, analyse and improve sports performance using data and sports science. The platform provides an objective process to identify and develop sports talent and creates more transparency among the key stakeholders such as the parents, coaches, athletes, academy managers and scout.

How did the pandemic impact your venture as sports is an outdoor

The pandemic had a negative impact on the sports and fitness industry in general, including school sports and youth sports, which restricted the use of the SparUp platform. However, the pandemic also made everyone realise the importance of outdoor sports and physical activity. So, we hope there is a positive uptick in participation levels and a more positive outlook towards actively and competitively playing sports, especially among kids and youth.

During the pandemic, you were focusing on sports psychology. How does sports help improve a person’s mental health?

Sports and mental health have a very positive correlation. Sports help develop cognitive abilities, and mental toughness among kids especially attributes such as focus, hand-eye coordination, decision making, judgement and mental strength. Additionally, sports psychology has become a very important discipline for competitive athletes to perform at the highest level.

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How are you working on empowering academics and institutions to help support the athletes? Through the SparUp platform, academies and schools get an objective insight into the performance of youth athletes and teams. Further, the SparUp platform data helps establish benchmarks for talent selection, develop customised training routines, and better manage fitness and injury levels. When you had a successful and secure career in the US, why did you decide to venture into entrepreneurship? I have always had the inclination to start my own business, especially in sports and healthcare. After the Rio Olympics in 2016, my co-founder Vivek and I started brainstorming ideas, and we felt that technology can be a good enabler in the sports industry, especially to identify and nurture talent from a young age. Through our numerous conversations with potential users, we realised there was a lack of a holistic approach to talent development in India and very limited data available to make decisions. This is when the concept of SparUp was born. It has been a challenging ride so far, especially because the industry is in a nascent stage. Still, definitely, it is moving in the right direction!