Utkarsh Yadav: A Passionate Sports & Gaming Professional | CEOInsights Vendor
Utkarsh Yadav: A Passionate Sports & Gaming Professional

Utkarsh Yadav: A Passionate Sports & Gaming Professional

Utkarsh Yadav ,  Founder & CEO

Utkarsh Yadav

Founder & CEO

Leadership boils down to one simple thing. It’s the fundamental belief that one has in oneself that one can make a difference and have a positive impact on others. Most entrepreneurs and leaders are born that way, and Utkarsh Yadav (Founder of Khiladi Pro) is no different. However, he did choose the hard path and decided to go about the upliftment of the sports industry. Utkarsh since childhood has always been a hardcore fan of sports, who wanted to pursue it as a career too. Well, that wasn’t a smooth climb but it did happen.

Let’s delve deep into the excerpts of the interview conducted by the CEO Insights India to uncover interesting facts about Utkarsh’s career & professional journey.

Could you give a brief account of your professional background and experiences? What inspired you to establish Khiladi Pro?

I have been obsessed with sports since my childhood. I spent my days training to become a professional sportsman back in Lucknow, India. However, pursuing a career in sports in India is not easy, unlike education, as there is no clear path to success. I continued to pursue my education further and decided to go to UIUC despite qualifying the JEE with a good rank.

Well, I was a student of computer science and worked with big finance companies like Jump Trading, and BLACKROCK, in the states. This professional experience really helped me realize what I did not want to do in life. Hence, returning to India, I executed few solo entrepreneur projects before joining Isha Foundation where I worked for a year and led massive-scale projects for Isha Foundation and Sadhguru. Later, I built and led the engineering teams for a social real money gaming company ‘GETMEGA’, and built a remote global team of around 100 engineers, of which 85 were from India. That company continues to run profitably, but the government’s GST ruling in the space obviously damaged and contracted that market significantly. However, I accumulated enough capital to set off on the journey of finally building what I came to Bangalore in the first place to build, Khiladi Pro. The opportunity to collaborate with incredibly talented and committed teammates most of whom I have been working with and leading for over four years is what gives me the
confidence I need as a leader.

At Khiladi Pro, we are building, consumer visual AI solutions for making sports a fundamental part of the lifestyle and growth of current and budding generations. I am quite lucky to be in a position and working on a problem statement amidst a space - ‘Sports’ that I deeply care about. I just want to make a large impact through my journey and this is what keeps me motivated.

At Khiladi Pro, we are building, consumer visual AI solutions for making sports a funda-mental part of the life-style & growth of current & budding generations

Share with us your academic experience at the University of Illinois. What did you learn from the campus beyond academics?

The university was an incredibly interesting place. The experience has been like a melting pot of different persona-lities and cultural backgrounds and this exposure has been invaluable to me. During my time at the university, I was actively involved in sports as the president of the Illinois Cricket Club and the CCI. However, the most important thing I learned was what I didn't want to spend my time on, which is equally important to figuring out what you want to do.

Define Khiladi Pro as an organization and its position in the market.

Khiladi Pro is a sports company that uses innovative visual AI technology to enable quality sports pedagogy. Last year, we went beyond our pedagogy mandate and enabled the Puma Dive campaign, which created a massive fan engagement activity. Now, we're building the world's first AI-powered mass sports Olympiad. The team comprises 60 percent innovators & engineers and 40 percent professional sportsmen. We're passionate about creating a massive societal impact and bringing sports to everyone with the help of visual AI technology.

What are the guidelines or methodo-logies you follow to lead your team?

My leadership style is heavily influenced by my experiences at Isha and GETMEGA. Working at Isha Foundation, I learned to believe in building a volunteer spirit among the team, where everyone works together to solve problems that matter to all of us. It's not about job titles, but about contributing to the team's success in any way possible. Hence, I build a culture that's similar to a sports team, where the best person for the job takes the lead, but everyone works together to achieve the shared goal. This approach fosters a sense of camaraderie and
teamwork, while proper communication and transparency critically transpires strength. Overall, my leadership style is focused on building a strong sense of community, equality, and fairness within the team, and lead everyone to work towards common goals, where all are experts.

How do you keep yourself up to date with the ongoing industry trends?

I wouldn't say I do as much, but I'm usually looking for something new to work on or get inspired by. Usually, my method is to find the interesting people and talk to them one-on-one, but obviously, I do consume certain sets of publications and media also helps.

What is your future roadmap?

Our long-term goal is to improve sports pedagogy by creating a comprehensive framework for evaluating physical capability and skill in different sports, providing tools to help individuals improve, and offering a support system for sports education. We want to become the go-to destination for anyone who wishes to explore and engage further in sports. We are also working towards creating a league where individuals can showcase their talent and receive validation that a career in sports is a viable option. In five years, I aspire that we can offer a clean reliable, and dependable path for anyone who wants to pursue sports as a means of developing human capital.

Any advice for budding industry leaders?

Currently, the industry needs a competent team with the right personalities and energy to solve problems effectively. Hence, investing in smart and motivated people is crucial. Also, to keep them together, it's important to select projects that resonate with their inner drive.

Utkarsh Yadav, Founder & CEO, Khiladi Pro

A Computer science student, Utkarsh is a passionate sports enthusiast who is fuelling generational dreams of playing competitive sports through his venture Khiladi Pro. Before this, he also had a stint with few big finance companies like Jump Trading, and BLACKROCK in the US, has executed solo-entrepreneurial project, led massive-scale projects for Isha Foundation and Sadhguru, and been a part of a social real money gaming company 'GETMEGA'.

•Hobbies: Meditating, Playing Sports (mostly cricket)
•Favorite Book: ‘The Book of Secrets: 112 paths to realization’ by Osho
•Favorite Cuisine: Sushi
•Favorite Travel Destination:
Mangalore (Maravanthe beach)

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