Ex UTV owner and serial entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala is making inroads into online education, with the launch of U Education, as detailed in a statement released to the press.
Starting with an investment of Rs 100 crore($16 million), this venture will focus only on higher education. This venture is his second independent venture, Unilazer Sports being the first; as a new unit focusing on sports management.
Unilazer has seen several investments in internet startups in the past. U education is an isolated entity though, and will aim to make the most of a fast-increasing demand for digital learning, taking advantage of technology while focusing on employability.
It will also be facilitated with providing custom and flexible education, tailor made for working professionals. Although numerous test preparation portals are available on the net, backed by venture capital funds, higher education sectors have not been so lucky.
We are looking to disrupt this whole space and that will happen only when there is scale and size. The biggest challenge right now is the lack of credibility attached to online learning and also employment generation post degrees. We will look to address these.
The venture will look into building affiliations with global universities and offer specialized courses, in addition to providing graduate and post-graduate degrees for many courses ranging across different branches of education, some involving management, law and engineering, entrepreneurship and sports, among others. The faculty is being structured and built- the venture will be ready for action by the end of 2015.
The initial investment will be used to further the fields of content, interactivity, technology, assessment, adaptive learning, marketing and building a national footprint. In a statement, he said
India has the largest college going age cohort in the world, yet only one out five of them enrol into higher education, resulting in one of the lowest higher education enrolment ratios, even among most developing nations. If we have to meet our GDP growth targets, we need to at least double the participation rate immediately, otherwise we will miss out on our demographic dividend.
U education got Mayank Kumar- with degrees from IIT-D and Indian school of Business, Hyderabad-onboard as co-founder and managing director. He has oodles of experience working for bigwigs such as senior principal at the Parthenon Group, Tata Strategic Management Group and currently; vice-president at Bertelsmann India Investments, a corporate VC fund focusing on education and digital sector.
Kumar said in the statement,
Our goal will be to foster the next level of degree education/learning and train the next generation Indian workforce to take on the industries of the future
This signals a smooth transition for Unilazer from being an investment firm to become a holding company of new businesses.