By Vatsal Tolasaria – 7th February, 2019
In our first article for the four-part Altevol-Alexander Waske Tennis University series, we had gathered thoughts and ideas from Mr. Alexander Waske himself, who had explained pointers on how this academy is going to revolutionalise Tennis, and Indian culture as a whole.
In our second article, we hear from the orchestrators of this product, without whose support, the project would have never taken off, Mr. Chirag Patel and Mr. Maulik Patel.
Mr. Chirag and Mr. Maulik have known each other since their childhoods, having grown up together in a typical Gujarati family of businessmen. They’re comrades and partners in various business initiatives, but Altevol is one that is extremely close to their heart. We try to understand from them about how they came together for this project, their vision and goal for it, and much more –
Introduction to Tennis and inception of the Altevol idea –
Chirag – Basically I am from a completely non-Tennis background. But Maulik is a very passionate Tennis parent, who was looking for the best facilities for his son at his age. While looking for academies in the US, Europe and India, for his son, Hanu, he stumbled upon Alexander Waske Tennis University in Germany. After Hanu spent a few months there, Maulik could mark a vivid difference, and it gave him immense satisfaction.
Being from the business background, myself and Maulik keep discussing about potential new ventures. One day, while we were discussing about Hanu, we happened to discuss about how Tennis parents want the best facilities for their children, but don’t really find that in our country. And myself, being a sports lover, who used to play for the school cricket team, have really promoted the sports culture in the family as well. I saw that kind of interest and passion from parents around me as well. That is how the idea of Altevol came about.
Maulik – Having travelled extensively with my son, both for his training and tournament, I identified a lot of gaps in the system. And as Chirag Bhai mentioned, a lot of parents were going through the same plight. And once we decided to do something to bridge those gaps and start this venture, we went to various academies in the world, to understand their system and their business models.
About the Altevol Sports Village and its concept –
Chirag – As marketing individuals, we did a lot of number crunching, and realised that sports, as a standalone offering, is not sustainable. So we decided to combine our real estate knowledge, to come up with an idea that would enable us to provide top notch sports facilities at affordable rates, without the whole thing being rendered financial nonsensical. Because at the end of the day, our goal was to plug the gaps in the sporting ecosystem in our country.
So to bring this idea to life, we decided to add revenue streams on the sides(like housing, club, schooling, etc, so that the model becomes self-sufficient, because we are in it for the long run. So we shortlisted a few sports – Tennis, Badminton, Swimming, etc, where we would provide world class training, whereas for other sports like Cricket, we would bring the kid up to a certain level, and then hand them over to more qualified coaches or the association, as competing with the BCCI in Cricket does not make any sense.
Collaboration with Alexander Waske Tennis University –
Chirag – All of this happened before we had approached Mr. Waske. But since Maulik got associated with them through Hanu, we thought it would be a good discussion to have with Mr. Waske, pertaining to collaboration for the Tennis side of things for Altevol.
Luckily, Mr. Waske believed in our ideology, and he, along with his partner, came down to India, we exchanged ideas, and there was a perfect overlap of vision, as Mr. Waske also iterated(refer to the first article). Once this happened, Mr. Waske invited the both of us to Germany as well, so that we could physically experience the culture that is present at his setting in Offenbach. We went there in May 2018, spent a week there. Then we sat together, we set our short-term and long-term plans.
I think the game-changer was when Alex suggested that we send 16 Indian coaches to Germany for three months to get used to our training culture. Being a businessman, I suggested Alex send a few coaches to India to train our coaches here instead. To which Alex replied, “Chirag, I will never be able to show them the intensity that way. I might be able to showcase the coaching, but I will never be able to teach them that intensity, unless they come to Germany and see how top 100 players train.” Then we took Alex’s word, and sent the team of coaches to Germany.
Maulik – Those three months of holistic development included everything, right from personality development, to professional development, including mental training. They even took our coaches to ATP tournaments so that they could experience top flight tennis. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if we had chosen the other route.
After having spent three months there, the coaches from here and there have become like an extended family, which makes the exchange of knowledge so much easier and so much more efficient.
Pricing and affordability –
Chirag – To avail coaching of the level to what Alex’s academy provides, it costs anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 Euros(excluding accommodation, food, travel). But we are providing the same level of coaching at 1,200 Euros(the most premium plan). This would make this program the cheapest in the world, if you keep in mind the quality of training that is going to be imparted to the players.
This would not have been possible without incorporating an offshore-onshore combination. We’re going to have Alex come down once every couple of months to oversee things. Apart from that, Bjorn and the fitness head Danny is going to be here with a team of coaches on 11th February and they are going to stay here for four weeks. And the cycle is going to continue. We’ll constantly have coaches coming down from Germany to ensure that the same drills, fitness routines, etc are being followed.
Maulik – Speaking from a parent’s point of view, it is immensely difficult to send your 12 or 13 year old kid, away from family to Europe for training. Even if you leave aside the humongous costs involved, the various other difficulties that come along with it are something only a parent will understand. And if you can stay in the country and avail the same level of coaching, at 1/4th the cost, then nothing like it. That’s what we are aiming to provide.
For any queries regarding the Altevol-Alexander Waske Tennis University, please write to us, and we shall get you in touch with the team at Altevol.