Kush and Arjun Pandey, businessline’s Young Changemakers of 2019, noticed the difficulties in unearthing sporting talent from the grassroots, when they were aged just 14 and 11. They applied technology to solve this problem. It took the teenage brothers four years to create an easy-to-use solution. At age 18 and 15, they launched a mobile app called ScoutMe to identify football talent hidden in the hinterlands. The app was adopted by the All India Football Federation, and in barely six months, 3,000 of its scouts filed 12,000 scouting reports.

How it worked was - if you spot a new player, you could create a profile and scouting report, give ratings on ball control, dribbling, crossing, and finishing. A detailed review of the player, and his or her potential could be written as well.

Cut to present.  ScoutMe has expanded the number of organisations it works with, bringing in more clubs, schools, and NGOs as partners who use the app to help scout talented athletes from across the country.

 Arjun Pandey went on to win the National Child Awards (Pradhan Mantri Bal Shakti Puraskar) in 2020 under the Innovation category.

Significantly, the two boys, who studied at the Jayshree Periwal International School in Jaipur, which supported their venture admirably, did not rest after making the app. They began thinking about gender inclusivity. They started working on how to make the app address the gap of lack of female players and also integrate the LGBTQ community in it, though there is no team really with transgenders. The boys dressed as transgenders and played in a football game so they could get a first hand feel of what the community faced.

 ScoutMe began organising Kicking Gender Boundaries, an initiative to promote the inclusion of trans athletes in sports, with the Keshav Suri Foundation. This has become a recurring yearly event in Jaipur.

The platform also focused on improving representation of para-athletes as well. India’s success at the para-Olympics spurred Arjun on to work in the area, creating awareness on how players with disabilities could go far too. To spread awareness,  

ScoutMe organised a match in Jaipur with blind footballers in which 70 visually impaired children (40 boys and 30 girls) took part.

Additionally, Arjun organised an online webinar and conducted an awareness creation session with five para-athletes. After that Arjun has modified the ScoutMe platform to facilitate players with disabilities. Para-athletes can connect with potential sponsors for better equipment and resources. “India needs an efficient scouting system that is inclusive,” avers Kush. And certainly, the boys have stretched the boundaries in making the app inclusive.

Clear Goals

Both boys had clear goals of wanting to do something connected with tech, data, management and sports once they finished their schooling in Jaipur. Fond of reading (Michael Lewis’ Moneyball is one of their favourite books) and inspired by Steve Jobs and Peter Thiel, the boys are on the way to achieving their goals. 

Kush graduated from University of Pennsylvania earlier this year. He did the Jerome Fisher Programme in Management and Technology (M&T) from the Wharton Business School and Computer Engineering from University of Pennsylvania. He has just started working with Bain & Co.

Arjun is studying in Stanford University. He is currently in the third year doing a major in computer science. 

Armed with management and tech skills, the boys can only go from strength to strength.