Private equity firm FW Sports Investment Fund LP has acquired a significant minority stake in Mumbai-based Smaaash Entertainment Pvt Ltd for an undisclosed amount. This is the first round of private equity funding into Smaaash that is into sports simulation technology in India.
Founded by Shripal Morakhia, Smaaash has developed a unique concept that blends sports, music and dining into an involved social entertainment such as cricket, football and racing, as well as many other thrilling and recreational attractions.
Morakhia is also the ex-founder of brokerage firm Sharekhan.
“Smaaash is an emotionally and physically engaging proposition that uses technology to meet consumer aspirations. We are very excited at having FSIF as our partner. Our plan is to open multiple centres across India and globally over the next couple of years, and FSIF’s involvement will help us immensely with our global plans," said Morakhia.
EY India acted as the exclusive investment bankers on the transaction. Ajay Shah, Partner at EY India, said: “The Indian sports-based entertainment industry has grown rapidly over the last few years, driven by an increase in discretionary spending ability of the consumer. Smaaash now has a total equity capital base of approximately Rs 150 crore. This capital base will be a catalyst for the company to achieve its aggressive expansion plans and meet its objective of providing social entertainment via a fun filled, value-for-money experience."
Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and STAR India are also strategic investors in the venture.
"Smaaash demonstrates creativity and innovation at its best-- principles that form the very core that drives Star. That innovation has meant that the company is quickly emerging as a sports entertainment destination among today's youth,'' said Sanjay Gupta, COO, Star India. “We are very proud to partner this unique venture and its team led by Shripal from its very conception to pilot and now its growth phase. There's no doubt Smaash will soon grow to be one of the biggest global enterprises in active sports entertainment”.
This is the second major investment by FSIF, a Mauritius-based Asia focused fund. Earlier this year, FSIF had acquired a significant minority stake in Technology Frontiers, a leading global provider of in-stadia activation solutions. The fund is led by Anand S. Krishnan, who has earlier been a Managing Director at JPMorgan in the Americas and Asia. With this investment, Krishnan will join the board of directors of Smaaash.
“Smaash leverages sports as a medium to connect with customers – families, corporates, and retail. The company is uniquely positioned to expand its footprint throughout India and worldwide," added Krishnan.