Entrepreneurship course draws interest from Gulf

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Entrepreneurship course draws interest from Gulf

Mumbai - NRIs and other nationalities could soon enroll for an online course in entrepreneurship in Mumbai.


Nithin Belle

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Published: Tue 17 Nov 2015, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 18 Nov 2015, 9:13 AM

Residents in the Gulf, both NRI and other nationalities, could soon enroll for an online course in entrepreneurship, taught by one of India's best-known entrepreneurs Ronnie Screwvala.
The self-made billionaire, who sold off his UTV media empire to Walt Disney about two years ago, told Khaleej Times here that he envisages strong demand from the Gulf region for courses being offered by his digital education initiative.
"These programmes provide the flexibility that a lot of Indians working in the Gulf region are looking for as they think about continuing education," he says. "We also feel that a lot of these programmes are equally attractive to professionals from other nationalities."
While the concept of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has become extremely popular, resulting in thousands of people enrolling for programmes, students are increasingly willing to pay for online courses.
Screwvala, who recently co-founded UpGrad, a digital education company, along with Mayank Kumar, a venture capital adviser, points out that for its entrepreneurship programme, which is prized at Rs50,000, it elicited interest from over 10,000 students.
"Post the application and selection process, we would end up enrolling about 600 students, making it the largest paid entrepreneurship programme in India - and probably globally," said the former media tycoon.
UpGrad will be offering short term courses across various fields aimed at providing aspirants necessary skills to move ahead in their professional life and make them industry ready.
Screwvala notes that building a scale platform for online education has been a challenge in the industry so far. The completion rates of some of the freely available programmes are abysmally low at around five to 10 per cent.
"We believe our key differentiator lies in recreating the online education experience from the first principle basis - targeting each element of education stack - starting from content, technology, strong student support to job assistance," he adds. "We are not coming with any baggage of offline education and are building our product that is designed for the digital-first audience."
The entrepreneur, who has also produced several top Bollywood hits over the past quarter century, believes that working professionals have the ability to pay for relevant programmes, provided they see a clear value from those.
Other programmes that UpGrad plans to launch soon include data analytics, angel investing, product management and digital marketing.
Screwvala cautions that education businesses cannot be built overnight and requires patience. "We have decided to take a long-term approach to building this business. We have committed to investing Rs1 billion ($16 million) for the next two to three years."
Dubbed a serial entrepreneur, Screwvala started his professional life in Mumbai's vibrant world of theatre. In 1981, he kick-started his entrepreneurial career, introducing the concept of cable TV in the city's tony Cuffe Parade locality, offering residents a three-hour daily alternative - in the form of video films - to the dreary offerings by state-owned Doordarshan.
Since then there has been no looking back for Screwvala, who founded the UTV group in 1990.

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