May 20, 2024

Founders Stupa Sports Analytics, Megha Gambhir and Deepak Malik

When Deepak Malik was the coach of the Indian national table tennis team in 2018, it was very challenging for him to develop insights and design training sessions. He had to manually capture data by going through hours of match footage. Seeing that this task had become very tedious given the number of players that were in the team across age categories, his wife Megha Gambhir developed a proof of concept for the performance analytics tool. This led them to start Stupa Sports Analytics, a sports technology company.

“At the time, I was working with Manav Thakkar, a promising and talented youth national team (table tennis) player who was struggling to perform at the international level,” said Deepak Malik, chief operating officer and co-founder of Stupa Sports Analytics.

Using Stupa’s solution to monitor and track Thakkar’s training and match performance through data analytics and AI, the coaches analysed his technical performance. They derived trends, and patterns, and received a detailed analysis of his game. Automated access to such deep insights allowed Thakkar’s coaches to design targeted training programmes.

“This proved to be a game-changer for Manav (Thakkar), as he shot up the rankings to become the world no. 1 in the U21 category in 2019, within a year of using Stupa’s performance analytics platform,” said Malik.

At the core of Stupa’s implementation of AI is a real-time object-tracking technology that meticulously captures the movement of the ball and players in real-time during live matches or from recorded footage. This data is then used to generate valuable statistics such as ball speeds, elbow angles at the time of striking the ball, and forehand success rates.

Stupa Sports Analytics

“This data can be used to empower athletes and coaches with actionable insights, personalised training programmes, and performance optimisation tools,” said Malik.

Formed in 2020, Stupa is making a mark on the world stage by taking local products to the global market. Within four years of inception, Stupa has established over 15 strategic partnerships with key governing bodies and sports federations, primarily in Europe. It is offering them innovative solutions to bridge the gap between traditional sports management and modern technological advancements.

Stupa recently secured Rs 28 crore in a Pre-Series A funding round led by Centre Court Capital and PeerCapital. The company plans to use the capital to fuel its talent acquisition, global expansion, and product enhancement initiatives.

The funds will be deployed to attract top AI and machine learning and engineering talent. They would build advanced solutions that stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly growing sports-tech industry. The capital will also power Stupa’s ambitions to expand globally into markets like the US, UK, Australia, and the Middle East while deepening its existing presence in regions like Europe and Asia.

Stupa also plans to enhance its product offerings to cater to the expanded sports disciplines portfolio. This includes table tennis, badminton, and upcoming sports like pickleball and padel along with other multi-sport capabilities.

“We envision a future where cutting-edge sports technology empowers athletes, federations, and fans alike with data-driven insights and digitally augmented experiences,” said Megha Gambhir, the co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Stupa Sports Analytics. “Our ambition is to elevate the sporting journey for every Indian athlete and amateur player, fuelling their passion and enabling them to realise their true potential in the global space,” she added.

Investors are impressed by Malik and Gambhir’s dedication to redefining the future of racquet sports.

“We’re excited to collaborate on their next phase of growth as they look to integrate their AI-driven analytics engine with cutting-edge sports technology on a global scale,” said Mustafa Ghouse, General Partner at Centre Court Capital.

Another investor, Ankur Pahwa, Managing Partner at PeerCapital said that the founders of Stupa are building a one-of-its-kind AI-powered global sports analytics platform. “They are championing the ethos of, ‘From India, for the world’.”

Stupa’s product isn’t just beneficial for players. It also enhances the viewing experience for fans. Malik said that Stupa’s ability to consolidate media and data from tournaments creates valuable intellectual property for rights-holders. By harnessing AI technology, Stupa generates real-time statistics for live matches. It couples this with captivating augmented reality-based graphics. This empowers commentators to deliver insightful narratives backed by hard data, making watching matches more engaging and enjoyable. Moreover, AI is leveraged to curate highlight packages and social media reels from match footage archives. This offers federations and players additional opportunities for monetization through strategic media distribution.

First Published: May 15 2024 | 4:22 PM IST