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Exclusive interview with Deepak Malik, COO of Stupa Sports Analytics: Sports Technology and AI Fueling the Growth

In the fast-paced world we live in today, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, weaving its innovative threads into the fabric of various industries to drive progress and efficiency. From healthcare to education, the infiltration of advanced technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) is unmistakably reshaping the way we operate and interact.

According to a survey by Statista, an impressive 57% of companies in India have already integrated technology and AI into their operations, highlighting a trend towards digital transformation across the board. Despite this widespread adoption, the sports industry—one of India’s most vibrant and expansive sectors—lags in harnessing the power of technology. Rooted in traditional practices, the perception persists that the essence and execution of sports are inherently manual and physical.

However, this viewpoint overlooks the immense potential that technology and AI hold in revolutionizing the sports realm. Imagine elevating the profile of niche sports to the mainstream, enhancing player performance through data-driven insights, and transforming the spectator experience with enriched, AI-generated analytics.

Enter Stupa Sports Analytics, a beacon of innovation in the sports technology landscape. Co-founded by Deepak Malik, who serves as the Chief Operating Officer, Stupa stands at the forefront of this revolution. This cutting-edge platform specializes in leveraging advanced AI algorithms and machine learning to offer comprehensive sports performance analysis. By digitizing sports management and harnessing AI for data extraction and broadcasting, Stupa is not just transforming how sports are played and managed but also opening new avenues for sports federations in data management and content monetization through over-the-top (OTT) media services.

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Exclusive interview with Deepak Malik, CEO of Stupa Sports Analytics: Sports Technology and AI Fueling the Growth

An interview with Deepak Malik, COO of Stupa Sports Analytics: Sports Technology and AI Fueling the Growth

In this compelling narrative, we sit down with Deepak Malik, COO and Co-founder of Stupa Sports Analytics, to unravel the intricate role of technology and AI in redefining the sports industry.

From discussing the profound impact of technological advancements on sports growth to revealing how Stupa is pioneering the integration of AI and technology in sports, this interview promises to shed light on a future where technology and sports converge to create unparalleled experiences for players, coaches, and fans alike.

Join us as we explore the game-changing contributions of tech in sports through the visionary lens of Stupa Sports Analytics, a trailblazer in the field poised to redefine the boundaries of athleticism and performance.

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What inspired the creation of Stupa Sports Analytics, and its envisioned role in the sports industry’s transformation through technology and AI?

The idea behind Stupa Sports Analytics traces back to a moment of inspiration while watching the movie Miracle back in 2011, when I was the national coach of the Indian Table Tennis team. Seeing how data-driven strategies propelled the US team to Olympic gold ignited the vision to harness technology to elevate my players’ performance.

In 2018, Megha, co-founder of Stupa Sports Analytics, and my wife were on a career break, when she picked up my problem statement. Leveraging her deep expertised 15+ years of experience in technology, and my coaching insights, we developed a player performance tool. At the time, we were working with Manav Thakkar, an incredible talent who was struggling to perform at the international level. But within a year of us figuring out the specific areas to work on, he reached the World #1 ranking in the under-19 category.

At the same time, we realized that a lot of sports were struggling with this problem statement. Not just at a player level, but even at the administrative level, where they are looking to grow the way cricket, soccer or basketball have evolved, we realized that the journey to commercialization for a sport begins with having the data in place – not just performance-data, but also first-level data for federations and clubs to manage tournaments and player memberships.

While testing proof of concept, we caught the eye of the ITTF(International Table Tennis Federation) who invited us to present our work in one of their sports science congresses. Eventually, two years after working on this problem statement, Stupa was founded.

Today, Stupa Sports Analytics transcends its origins, offering a comprehensive solution for sports organizations through a centralized platform. We leverage the latest AI technology and creativity to elevate fan engagement, creating immersive and personalized experiences. Our vision is to seamlessly blend technology with sports, offering a dynamic and interactive platform that captivates audiences globally. We believe in the power of AI to not only enhance the sporting experience but also to create a deeper connection between fans and the game.

How do AI and technology enhance athlete performance and fan experience in sports? How is Stupa utilizing AI algorithms and machine learning to help players and coaches? (Also from India’s perspective)

At the core of our 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, forehand success rates, etc. This data can be used to empower athletes and coaches with actionable insights, personalized training programs, and performance optimization tools.

However, our product isn’t just beneficial for players; it also enhances the viewing experience for fans. By incorporating captivating graphics and compelling storytelling into broadcasts, we make watching matches more engaging and enjoyable. Additionally, our technology automatically generates highlight reels tailored for social media platforms, increasing the visibility of players and their achievements.

Furthermore, we’re exploring the possibilities of virtual reality technology. This allows players to immerse themselves in training experiences where they can simulate playing against top-ranked opponents. By practicing in these virtual environments, players can refine their skills and adapt to different playing styles more effectively.

What significant challenges have you faced integrating technology and AI into sports, and how has Stupa overcome these obstacles?

The challenge in integrating technology and AI into sports has been in its adoption by stakeholders within the sporting industry. It is not just about finding parties that are interested in our offerings; it’s also about educating those already involved. Sometimes, not every stat immediately makes sense. However, when presented as a trend or pattern, it becomes clearer. Take a heatmap, for example; it shows where shots are played, how many forehands versus backhands, etc. When you observe stats over a season or a game, they start to reveal meaningful insights. It’s also crucial to weave a narrative around these scenarios.

To address this, we’ve assembled a dedicated team to gather and analyze information, which is then shared with players, coaches, and commentators. We’ve also conducted mentoring sessions with coaches in partnership with ITTF. Currently, we’re working with TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) and SAI (Sports Authority of India) to demonstrate how sports analytics can be effectively utilized.

How does Stupa assist sports federations in managing their data and monetizing content through OTT platforms, and what opportunities does this create for lesser-watched sports?

Stupa empowers sports federations to utilize data effectively and capitalize on their content through its OTT solutions, including customized platforms for sports bodies or its own OTT platform. These solutions not only open up new revenue streams but also boost the visibility of less-popular sports.

Monetization strategies include using OTT platforms for advertising, and subscriptions, and incorporating ad overlays. This allows for revenue generation through targeted ads, subscription models, and strategically placed overlays in content streams.
Federations can also create a valuable resource for players and coaches using our OTT solutions by offering in-depth performance analysis services for a fee. This service includes detailed breakdowns of matches, player strategies, and skill assessments, providing actionable insights for performance improvement.

By offering comprehensive data management and tournament solutions alongside OTT platforms, we help federations deliver compelling content to a global audience while also enhancing the player experience. This drives fan engagement and creates commercial opportunities.

What advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs aiming to merge technology with traditional industries like sports?

A pivotal lesson learned on our journey was the importance of establishing a solid product-market fit. In 2018, we started working to come up with a solution to plug the data gap in sports, and then with the vision of empowering athletes by addressing player performance challenges using technology, we registered the company in 2020.

This vision underwent a significant shift in 2021–22 when we had to reevaluate our strategy and business model, recognizing that the consumer market we initially targeted might not offer the scalability we desired. During this period, our engagement with various federations provided valuable insights into the gaps in their processes and the challenges they faced. This led us to pivot towards a B2B model, with federations, leagues, tournaments, and event organizers as our primary clientele.

Our niche became apparent when we realized that there was a need for a comprehensive end-to-end solution for rights owners for services like live streaming, tournament management, analytics, and AI, which were not available at that time. This realization marked a turning point for us. It was important to stay agile and be open to feedback. Since identifying our product-market fit, our journey has been one of continuous growth and progress.


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Raunak Saha
Raunak Saha
A cs engineer by profession but foodie from heart. I am tech lover guy who has a passion for singing. Football is my love and making websites is my hobby.



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