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How Delhi-based AI startup is training table tennis players globally

With over 5,000 free and paid customers logging in on the platform since January 2021, the growth momentum of Stupa Sports has continued even amidst the pandemic.

twitter-logoJoe C Mathew | May 9, 2021 | Updated 21:28 IST
How Delhi-based AI startup is training table tennis players globally
Stupa Sports is offering its services to table tennis federations of Brazil, Portugal and Hungary.

Stupa Sports Analytics, a Delhi-based startup which launched commercial operations between the first and the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, is helping global table tennis associations improve the performance of their athletes and coaches through an artificial intelligence-powered analytics app that can be installed on a mobile phone and operated using the phone camera.

With over 5,000 free and paid customers logging in on the platform since January 2021, the growth momentum of Stupa Sports has continued even amidst the pandemic, says its co-founder and CEO Megha Gambhir. The monthly subscription charges begin from a modest Rs 600 for minimal access to Rs 10,000 (US $200 outside India) for advanced package for professionals.  

Gambhir, a technologist with over 14 years of experience offering tech consultancy and project management services as part of EY and Cognizant, found a business opportunity in sports analytics after she combined her strengths with that of her husband -- Deepak Malik, a former national player and coach for Indian table tennis team. Malik, also a co-founder, knew the problem, and Gambhir knew how to develop a solution.  

The company is offering its services to table tennis federations of Brazil, Portugal and Hungary. US Table Tennis Association is also a client. "We are signing some contracts with some of the big global table tennis federations. It's going on. We shall announce it soon," Gambhir says.  

Stupa Sports harnesses the power of data analytics and strong visualization metaphors to design technical game analysis that identifies the weaknesses, unleashes hidden game patterns and trends, captures strong areas that further help coaches, fitness trainer and mental trainer to work on specific areas of the athlete. Its services include match analysis, training analysis, athelete profiling, analytics for broadcasting and creative media and fitness technology, including sports injury and rehab.  

While there are several players in sport analytics, Gambhir claims Stupa Sports is first AI-backed sports analytics company in the world for table tennis. Further, unlike other sports analytics tools, it does not require high speed cameras to capture and analyse players' performance. A mobile phone camera is good enough.

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"There is no entry barrier as such, there are many companies working on analytics, but they are mainly working on high speed cameras. That makes it very easy to do the analytics because the visibility of the frame and the video is higher. However, what we are trying to achieve is we are not going to use multiple camera output. It is going to be mobile camera. That's the USP. We have first mover advantage," she says.

The founders put in about Rs 1 crore from their savings to develop the prototype and work on the product before they got their first funding last year. "The market is very huge. Global market for table tennis is 226 countries which is more than soccer. The International Table Tennis Federation estimates that there are more than 30 million professional players and approximately 300 million at all levels -- amatuers, professionals, etc.," Gambhir says.

The promoters say the company's services are not just going to be limited to analytics. "We started off with analytics, our vision was to bring an analytic tool, which can bring real time analytics using a mobile camera so that people don't have to set up high speed camera. Our funda was that any player from anywhere can access real time analytics. Anyone can record their matches and analyse their matches, their practice sessions. But the idea is not just give the analytics, but to give a holistic platform for a sport," Gambhir says.

"For now it is TT, but eventually we want to go for other sports as well. The idea is to create a holistic platform where the players can come, they can even connect with fellow players, coaches, get virtual coaching online, get their online analytics done and share it with their coaches. Our plan is also to add lot of educational stuff where they can get information about how to play. So it is not just analytics, it is to create a platform where entire global table tennis can connect with each other through virtual coaching, education platform," she adds.

Incidentally, Malik is also the promoter of a table tennis training institution -- Pinnacle Table Tennis Academy. "It is auto-run now. The coaches are taking care of the academy," Gambhir says.

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