Economy

Bringing sports memorabilia to you

K. Giriprakash | Updated on March 11, 2013

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Twenty-something Anjana Reddy will tell you that she left playing badminton to pursue a degree in the US.

What is less known, however, is the fact that when she quit playing badminton, she was the national number three and her doubles partner happened to be one Saina Nehwal. In her home state, Reddy was seeded first and Nehwal came next.

Nehwal went on to win laurels in the world of badminton. Reddy returned home armed with a master's degree in finance and a fascination for sports merchandise, which, according to her, is big business in the US.

New passion

Her newly developed interest got her to share her new found passion with the Palo Alto-based Accel Partners that agreed to fund her venture called Collectabillia. This puts Reddy’s start-up in the august company of the likes of Facebook, Angry Birds (Rovio Entertainment) and Groupon, all funded by Accel.

Collectabillia was started in December last year and is being touted as the best thing that has happened to alternative investment after art collection. “Cricket is a passion here and we decided that we will start with it,” says Reddy, whose Universal Sportsbiz company runs Collectabillia.

Reddy won’t share the details of the funding but says that cricket memorabilia can now be bought online through her company. It could be a limited edition bat autographed by cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar after he scored century of centuries or Yuvraj’s autographed photograph.

“In India, we directly procure from players and we have Sachin, Sania (Mirza), Saina (Nehwal) or Dhoni with whom we have signed contracts. Abroad, it is either from the players or the agents or from third party people,” points out Reddy. For example, Sachin Tendulkar’s autographed bat is worth over Rs 3 lakh.

She is also looking at hawking key chains and similar products through a special vertical called C-Mart which are for the mass market.

If it is a jersey or a T-shirt worn during a match, it goes to the auction and the memorabilia created by Collectabillia goes online and comes with a fixed price tag.

autographed pictures

She reels off the names of several sports personalities whose autographed pictures have grown several times in value. For example, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher’s autographed picture has appreciated by about 250 per cent, boxing legend Mohammed Ali’s went up from £125 to £895 in a matter of decade and that of Beetles’ Paul McCartney’s from £125 to £1,400.

Therefore, she rightly believes that India provides lot more opportunities. For a one billion population, there are more sports than just cricket.

With television coming in, the interest has peaked, she points out.

However, one of the risks of collecting memorabilia just like art collection is the number of fakes going around in the market. To overcome that, Collectabillia actually video tapes the event when the player is signing on his photograph or his bat. This removes any doubts regarding its authenticity and one can go to the secondary market to sell the ware with lot more confidence and obviously expect extremely good returns.

Trading platform

Collectabillia is also looking at creating a trading platform where one can exchange memorabilia. Also, it is looking at signing celebrities in the entertainment industry as well. It plans to sell merchandise related to actor Rajnikanth’s next movie.

Reddy hopes that her company will be able to break even in a year and half which, she claims, can be quite an achievement considering the fact that several online companies haven’t been able to do though they have been around much longer.

Published on March 11, 2013

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