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IN CONVERSATION WITH INGA CHANDILYA

JASMEEN DUGAL  (click here to know more about this blogger)

Bengaluru’s newest professional sports franchise "Bangalore Raptors" is a game changer with its combination of the best International and Indian players — Venus Williams, Feliciano Lopez, Thomas Enqvist and Ramkumar Ramanathan. Managing Director Inga Chandilya — who was Asian CFO of a global FMGC firm — is now leading Bangalore Raptors to transform into reality hers and her husband's dream of making it the leading professional Tennis franchise in the world.

 

"Before taking on the sports management company I had taken some time off with my kids. Sports management has been our passion and we felt it was the right time in India for the industry and so it kind of just fell together. Our vision is to create a world class sports and tennis franchise where top International players want to come and play and best Indian talent gets to hit balls with the Stars. India has so much potential in sports and we wanted to give exposure to local athletes and also convey to the International community that professional sports in India is at par with the world's best. Expanding on the tennis franchise, we wanted to create a sports management company fusing the best in sports and local environment.

 

It's about the fundamentals, marketing and branding, connecting with the fans and broader community, standing for professional and world class operational values, making sure players feel comfortable and have fun, and give back to fans and have them involved in the entire aspect of the franchise. Internally it is also about connecting with the right people at the right time and putting the best ideas to work. I am often asked about the name and team players. Well we actually crowd sourced the name through online and offline channels!! We wanted the public to be part of the entire process of setting up this franchise. Raptors was a name that came through among other names and we felt it was in sync with our personalities and the tone we wanted to set for the franchise. We wanted a distinctive logo that was also simple to recall and my husband Mittu designed it! The three claw scratches — for our three sons — was something we liked and matched well with our initial views of the franchise. We also chose colours that would be distinctive and fierce. Raptors hunt in packs and are quick, clever and fierce, and can bring down bigger foe or prey. In the end we were thrilled with the end product despite having only four weeks to create it and we loved the team we were in the position to draft!

 

We were particular with the players we wanted. Venus Williams is an iconic player whose twenty years of tennis accomplishments was something Bangalore just needed to have. Feliciano Lopez is a fantastic player who is playing some of his best tennis and being a left handed player was a bonus. Thomas Enqvist is a legend and captain who set the tone for the team. He has experience, presence and is a student of the game. Ramkumar was someone we saw play at the Chennai Open and we were keen on having him on our team. We felt he could benefit from being part of this team and the players we had. As with all team sports, you are strongest when the team chemistry is perfect and everybody is complementing each other's strengths. I think we have a fantastic team and the chemistry grows with each passing day. With this league and concept, and especially with Tennis being an individual sport, it is important to invest in building a team feeling with players and I believe we as owners play a critical role in that. They need to connect with the franchise and local community. This is hard as we only have two weeks including the game days. 

 

Yet I believe all sports franchises go through phases. We felt that in the first year it would be important to have key individuals that make the team. It's the inaugural year and the public needs to connect and associate with the team. We believe from the second year onwards we would emphasise on team over individual. I believe the biggest challenge and joy is in creating a sense of belonging and common desire to win for the franchise. You have to work to ensure that these professional athletes who are used to being on the tour for the majority of the year solo now to feel part of a team along with other professional athletes they have only faced on the other side of the court. We also wanted our team to get a flavour of Bangalore and of India as we are proud of our city and country. We also wanted them to see some of the needs of the country in a relaxed ambience so we tied up with Mittu Chandilya Foundation to host Raptors Ball — a fashion-themed ball that brought together Bangalore A-List, along with Children of Parikrama (a cause that the event supported with its proceeds) and fashion fraternity, in a setting that allowed the players to mingle with their adoring public.

 

What can I say? The feedback has been great! There has been good brand recall and the response to the games have been fabulous. The players had a memorable time and we made good friends with all of them off the field. As owners, we were happy with the product and output and believe it sets up a good foundation for us to do more with the franchise in the upcoming season."

 

Inga Chandilya
 
12-DECEMBER-2014
 
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