Mayank Kumar, Co-founder and MD of UpGrad was recently announced as the Achiever of the Year 2017, by BW Disrupt.
Mayank founded UpGrad with serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, Ronnie Screwvala and secured $16M of capital to grow the venture into India’s most meaningful online education business. Mayank holds a B.Tech from IIT Delhi and MBA from Indian School of Business. He has worked with global clients across all geographies in the education sector, including China, South-East Asia, India and South America.
During his interview with the BW Disrupt team at BW Disrupt’s 40 Under 40 event, Mayank spoke about UpGrad – business growth initiatives, challenges and future plans.
Some key topics Mayank covered at the BW Disrupt event:
Initiatives for business growth
Expanding the B2C product portfolio:
UpGrad had 2000 students in 4 programs last year. This year, we are targeting somewhere close to 6000 students in 10 programs.
Reaching out to the B2B space:
We are now targeting companies who are looking to upskill their employees. UpGrad Labs is one such initiative.
Expanding the presence:
UpGrad recently partnered with Cambridge University, London. Partnerships like this will help to take programs beyond India, to international market segments.
Finding right talent:
Online education is a new area and people aren’t aware of the issues involved with it. Building a talent pool here is a bit of a challenge, unlike other industries.
Changing customer perspective:
Building credibility of online education is a unique challenge. As most customers expect it to be free and they also think, it’s not as engaging as going to the campus.
Funding and traction:
UpGrad has been internally funded around 300 Crores, put together by all co-founders. We are nowhere close to spending that amount, so we aren’t actively seeking any funding.
Before UpGrad, Mayank was VP of Education at Bertelsmann, Europe’s largest media and education conglomerate, where he oversaw the education strategy and its multi-million dollar investments in India. In this capacity, he further served as a Board Member of iNurture.
Prior to joining Bertelsmann, Mayank was a Senior Principal at The Parthenon Group, where he advised clients in the education sector on market potential, growth and market entry strategies, investment decisions as well as revenue and profit uplift strategies. He has also worked at the Tata Strategic Group.
The Idea Called UpGrad: Why Education is Serious Business
This year, so far…
In 2017, UpGrad expanded its operations by exploring various initiatives, starting in January with the launch of UpGrad Xchange in Bengaluru. Xchange is an ‘idea center’ where great minds can connect over casual conversations as well as serious discussions.
UpGrad Talks is another such go-to portal for inspiration, insights and tips on what it really takes; from the experts, the entrepreneurs and the leaders themselves.
With UpGrad Labs we took an initiative that invites real and live problems of startups and corporates, which our learners then analyse and help out these companies in their resolution.
UpGrad has also started offline meetup events known as UpGrad Basecamp. Basecamp acts as a physical platform for our learners for peer to peer learning, idea exchange, networking and getting industry insights from experts.
In just a little more than two years, we have expanded from a startup which insisted ‘entrepreneurship can be taught’ to an organisation that is ‘building careers of tomorrow’. This process started with training many successful entrepreneurs and now, on offer, are other programs in futuristic and in-demand technologies like Data Science, Big Data, Machine Learning, Digital Strategies, etc.
What Skill Development Really Means and Why It’s Important for Success
Our first big exposure was collaborating with the Government of India while launching the Start-Up India Learning program. Now, we have multiple programs in collaboration with various universities viz.; MICA, IIIT Bangalore, BITS Pilani and the University of Cambridge. These programs are helping us to build a presence in Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle-east, Latin America and other international market segments.
Mayank Kumar, along with co-founders Ronnie Screwvala, Phalgun Kompalli, Ravijot Chugh and the entire team are focused on providing the most immersive learning experience to upskill motivated professionals so that they can build lasting and rewarding careers.
Join the movement by checking out our programs!
What is the “BW Disrupt 40 Under 40 Achiever of the Year”?
Organized by BW Disrupt, the “40 under 40” is a quest for the most influential leaders of the year. It is a hunt for the top 40 brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators, and game changers under the age of 40. The jury members panel of the 2021 event included Saurav Banerjee, Venture Partner at Kalaari Capital, Rohit Bhayana, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Lumis Partner, Nitish Mittersain, Managing Director at Nazara Games, Anil Ahuja, Founder at 88tuition, S Ravi, FCA, Founder and Managing Partner at Ravi Rajan & Co LLP, Shyam Srinivasan, Managing Director and CEO at Federal Bank, Sonya Saini, Director at Pomelo Digital India, Vinod Gupta, Managing Director at VG Learning Destination, Vani Gupta Dandia, Founder at CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners, Sanjay Kadaveru, Founder and President at Action For India, Aditya Tripathi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Cold Love Ice cream, among many others.
Who is Mayank Kumar?
An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi) and the Indian School of Business, Mayank Kumar was named the ‘40 Under 40 Achiever of the Year’ by BusinessWorld Disrupt in 2017 and ‘BW Education 40 under 40 Achiever’ by Business World in 2020. Mayank Kumar is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of upGrad. He has spent most of his professional career in the education sector where he has been involved in deals resulting in over a billion dollars flowing into the sector. He has served as Vice President for Education at Bertelsmann, Senior Principal at The Parthenon Group, and as Board Member of iNurture, and as an advisor at the Tata Strategic Group.
Who are the women entrepreneurs of BW Disrupt 40 Under 40 Achiever 2022?
The women entrepreneurs of BW Disrupt 40 Under 40 Achiever 2022 are Harini Sivakumar, Founder and CEO at Earth Rhythm, Ipsita Das, Managing Director at Moët Hennessy India (LVMH), Neha Motwani, Co Founder and CEO at Fitternity, Pallavi Utagi, Founder and CEO at SuperBottoms (Navashya Consumer Products), Shweta Aprameya, Founder and CEO at ARTH, Sujata Biswas, Co Founder at SUTA, and Swagata Sarangi, Co Founder at Smytten.