If you are a fan of, India’s hottest cricketing star, you may soon be able to meet and greet him, chat with him online, receive exclusive pictures, videos or content from him or get discounts on select brands, like Wrogn and Chissel, which he endorses or part-owns.
This is provided you buy the Virat FanBox — a special editionphone that comes with an in-built app for Rs 16,999, which includes the membership fees to the Virat fan club for 365 days.
Of course, the FanBox also comes with a mini-bat signed by Virat, a hand-written (printed) letter from Virat, and a unique membership number which is linked to the IMEI no of the phone — all in a well decorated box. The phone will also serve as a key to a lot of entry points, like the post-match fan booth the club would organise.
The FanBox has been developed by Privyplex, a start-up founded by two alumni of Insead Business School — Ahmed Arab, the CEO, and Upmanyu Misra (chairman of its board), who also heads Elyseum, a Dubai-based private equity firm which has invested $1.5 million in the firm.
“As a cricketer, I feel blessed with all the love and support I get from my fans. Theis my personal endeavour to get closer to my fans than ever before; to connect and chat with them online and meet them in real life. I am excited and looking forward to engaging and interacting with the club members via the app,” Virat said in a statement.
“In India, celebrities enjoy a lot of following. FanBox is a high-degree engagement platform, which is unique. We are happy to partner with them,” says Amit Boni, country head, Motorola. The potential is huge as Virat has 10.5 million followers on Twitter. While the start-up is shy of discussing targets, Boni will be disappointed if it doesn’t do 1 million.
Typically, fans-celebrity interactions are one-way. Fans want to have access to celebrities, and celebrities want a better understanding of their fans. “We have created a platform which enables that between the celebrity and the fans,” says Ahmed, CEO of Privyplex and a telecom engineer, who has worked with Microsoft, Nokia, Alcatel; co-founded a start-up in Singapore, which was sold to Rocket Internet.
Virat is the first celebrity the firm has signed up, but it’s also in talks with five others globally. These include a football player from South America, a basketball star from USA, a Formula 1 star from Europe, and entertainment and Bollywood stars from South Korea and India, respectively. What’s common is that they are among the most popular in their respective arenas. They all liked the idea and talks with them are currently at various stages; the FanBox will be customised for each.