Edtech Series: Eruditus

Joining me is a guy who went to Harvard Business School and said, “This is really helpful, but it’s available to a limited number of people.”

So he decided to make online top tier education available to more people. He created a company called Eruditus which makes really high quality education more affordable and accessible. It’s backed by people who don’t just throw money at things and hope they work–including the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation.

My guest today is Ashwin Damera. He previously founded TravelGuru which he sold to Travelocity. We’ll talk about that experience and why he’s taking such a different direction with his current company.

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Ashwin Damera

Ashwin Damera

Eruditus

Ashwin Damera is the co-founder of Eruditus, which offers executive education programmes from world’s top Business Schools.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighter. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Joining me direct from India, actually. W how are you today? Thank you so much for doing this. I know that this schedule is a little bit difficult for the two of us to align since I’m here in the, in the Bay area. But I’ve been so fascinated by Ashwin  mission. He’s a guy who went to Harvard business school, who said, you know, this is really helpful, but it’s available to a limited number of people.

What if we could make online educational really top tier education available to more people? And so we created a company called Arie ditis, it’s making high quality education, more affordable and accessible, and it works. And it’s backed by people who, who don’t just throw money at things and hope. So let’s say people with social missions, uh, including the Chan Zuckerberg foundation that helped invest.

I don’t know how much did they be?

Ashwin: I can’t say that, but they were, they were part of the 113 billion series D that we just raised,

Andrew: Which, from what I understand valued the company of what $700 million now

Ashwin: uh, 800 million post money.

Andrew: which is a world of difference from the previous company that Ashwin founded Ashwin to in 2005, co-founded a company called or founded a company called travel guru. It’s a, it was an Indian hotel aggregator, which he sold to Travelocity.

What’d you sell that company for how much.

Ashwin: 15 million much smaller, obviously.

Andrew: Bootstrapped or funded.

Ashwin: Funded. We were funded by Sequoia and battery ventures. Um, we did really well till up to until 2008 when Lehman brothers collapsed and then the entire travel world took a massive hit. But I like to think of that as my investment in learning to be an entrepreneur. And I think a second time was much easier.

And, uh, I think the company is now at a much different trajectory.

Andrew: My understanding was that they put in more money than, than even the sale price. Right.

Ashwin: I think the early investors, uh, got the money back, but some of the later investors, maybe to us, a small hedge fund.

Andrew: Yeah. Talk about an education. Well, here you are changing education and I invited Ashwin here to talk about how he’s doing this and we can do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you’re hiring developers, you already know because I’ve talked about it forever because people in my audience have signed up for them forever.

You should be going to top talent.com/mixergy. And second, if you have a team of people that you want to coordinate by giving them a clear set of, of guidelines and, and, and if you want to create the training manual for your business, I’m going to tell you later why you should go to  dot com slash Mixergy first.

Ashwin sure.

Ashwin: Thanks.

Andrew: Do you remember what your parents said when you told them that you are going to be an entrepreneur?

Ashwin: Oh yeah, I had just finished business school. I had more than a hundred thousand dollars in debt. I had an offer to go work at McKinsey in New York city. And I told them that I was going to say no to that. Come back to India. And start a business, uh, which, would mean that I get no money. I had no investors.

I had a couple of my Harvard classmates were going to write me a check. Uh, but Bradley, I would say that they were shocked. and the first reaction was why can’t you be like your brother, uh, you know, who had a job with HP and Palo Alto? And I was in their minds. Well settled and I think he was. but I think they came around, I think they said, look, you’ve got all the insurance.

You need, you have an MBA from Harvard business school. And so if something went wrong, that’s fine. You’ll figure it out. In fact, McKinsey, the McKinsey partner now who I had to say no to actually I had a very good, uh, you know, thing to say, he said, look, go do this. If the company is very successful, McKinsey can consult for you guys.

And if it’s not, you’ll be a better consultant.

Andrew: That’s a good way to look at it. Was there a time when, as you were building a business, you thought. Maybe I made a mistake. I kind of wish that I’d gone to work somewhere else. Gotten a cushion.

Ashwin: you know, there were many doubts, but I’m not sure the doubt was so much about going and working somewhere else. It’s, you know, you doubt yourself, like, am I doing the right thing? Why are so many investors saying no to me is my pitch. Somehow not that I pitched the business plan. Not sexy enough. So there were many doubts, but I don’t think I ever wanted, um, to go back and work.

I I’m showing month 11 or so, making the, by the way, just to be fully clear were extremely nice. They gave me a one year difference. Uh, so towards the end of that, when I had this conversation with a partner who was very thankful, but I don’t think I really wanted to go back and work. And now it’s just impossible for me to see myself working in a large company.

You know, when we sold my oldest startup travel, go to Travelocity, I spent a year working for them and they were extremely nice. But I was itching to get back to being a founder and starting something. Yeah.

Andrew: You mentioned a Harvard business school, you met, you met some really good people there. Can you give me an example of one of the relationship?

Ashwin: so my first startup travel guru, uh, was actually came out of a business plan that I wrote as part of a project. At Harvard business school. And, um, when, when I decided to come back to India and started, uh, two of my friends, basically it was a business plan. There was no revenue, there was no product, there was no team that was just me and a business plan.

But two of my friends, uh, gave me my first check, $200,000. Uh, we didn’t even call it a CDC or the angel of the, and it was just, uh, just money that I had based on good faith, uh, perhaps based on the network. Uh, to start and, um, you know, like we we’ve talked about before childhood, it was an okay outcome. I learned a lot, but one of them also then led the series a in eight actors.

And by the time he had a bunch of fun call with Capitol. Um, and so, uh, obviously in a much better place now, but you know, so in two of my startups, I’ve had my classmates from Harvard business would actually like me to the first check.

Andrew: when you came up with the idea for travel guru, what was it, what was the original thought that you had.

Ashwin: now. I know it’s a, it’s a very long story, but in the, uh, in the summer, between my first year and the second year, I actually got the opportunity of working for jet blue. I intern for their CEO, Dave Barger. And one of the things that he did Lou was looking at at that time was saying, Hey, could India be a big market for us?

So part of the work I did for them was to look at is the opportunity for a low cost model. Now this was 2004. So, you know, a long, long time back and in, in that discovery process, I had to do a lot of fare shopping, realized that there was no consolidator or online OTA to say our meta search that existed in India.

And so while, you know, obviously jet blue, didn’t go ahead with anything in India. Uh, I realized that there’s an opportunity to be a consolidator and aggregate in the travel space for India specifically. And that was the business plan that travel grew a chance to bond early in the business. We pivoted,

Andrew: Sorry. There was no, there was no Travelocity for India. There was no price line.

Ashwin: uh, there was Priceline, but not premia. Uh, there was Travelocity, but not for India. There was one company called make my trip that was actually selling more to non-resident Indians in the U S who wanted to come to India, uh, for the vacation up to that point, actually there were only two or three full service carriers carriers in India.

And what happened in 2005 was the low cost aviation boom started. So a bunch of new, uh, airlines started, which make the fact competitive more, uh, important.

Andrew: I see. Got it. So as you’re doing research for your internship for jet blue, you’re realizing, wait a minute, there’s this missing opportunity, a missing piece that would empower companies like jet blue. Okay. You are going to tell me what you did with that.

Ashwin: So that led to me. So I did that by the way, as part of a field study at Harvard business school. And then, you know, just kind of out of curiosity said, Hey, let’s start a business plan. What would it be? If he actually started a business that tried to make money of this fair, uh, uh, competitors in that became travel girl.

And it was a kind of a half serious business plan. Uh, really something that was interesting to do. Not sure I weren’t actually pursue it. But then at the Harvard business school business plan contest, we came runners up and then we had a couple of friends saying, Hey, we’ll actually back you. And then I had to make a decision.

Um, and I think I made the right decision. It was a brave one. I, I support, you know, at that point of time, the largest startup success in India, if I didn’t, but I 2004 was when E-bay bought an Indian company called bazi.com for $50 million. Oh my God. How does the startup world it’s changed completely?

Right now we have Indian startups in 10 billion, 15 billion, but 50 million was kind of the benchmark in 2004. So it was a brave decision. Uh, you know, I think it was that I indecision, I think, uh, you know, I always joke and say that look, the only different between an entrepreneur and somebody who’s not is the entrepreneur side and some of the other day.

In fact, the only different between somebody who’s successful and somebody is not, I believe is somebody’s tried. And somebody did. In fact, I don’t, I define failure as not trying. So from that, uh,

Andrew: as failure trying, trying, and then losing all your money, trying, and then spending three years in agony. Not, not being able to get customers. Isn’t that also failure. I could feel the pain of that. I’ve experienced the pain of that at times in my life.

Ashwin: Yeah, absolutely. So that’s next. I’m gonna saying, look, I want, uh, you know, uh, kind of do the high job. I’m trying to cross three and a half meters. You try a hundred times and you fail and then the hundred first time you succeed. So the a hundred times you fail was that failure or was that a stepping stone to success?

So I believe that it’s failure, if you didn’t learn from that experience. So, you know, my first startup, I don’t think it was a failure. I think it actually did. Okay. But what I learned. Is what makes me more successful in my second startup. Right? And so it, it, it’s fine to try something and fail in the definition of, Hey, this didn’t become a very large financial outcome.

But you learn a lot and then you realize what you want to become in life. And if you use that, you’re more like there’s a reason why the second time entrepreneurs or third time entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. In fact, there was a VC, I think it was kind of who wants told me this. He said we are more likely to back.

So-called failed entrepreneur than a first time entrepreneur, because at least the failed entrepreneur knows what entrepreneurship is about and what he or she is actually good at.

Andrew: Uh, okay. And that it then helps me understand how you ended up with very ditis because frankly, the press on this at erudite is unbelievable because you’re taking on such a big mission of bringing education to more people because you’re working with credible institutions, both on the customer base, right.

Companies are coming to you and sending, trusting their top people to you. And of course, on the university side, let me, let me spend a little more time just understanding what you learn that first time. You launched travel guru. And I, I know in my intro, I said that it was a, um, Indian hotel tell aggregator.

I frankly, I got that from a press release when it was eventually sold by Travelocity. But the reality was when you launched, you had travel packages you had, from what I could see here, you had hotels, you had airlines, you had the whole thing was basically a Travelocity firm for India. How did you get all of these different companies to work with you?

And then we’ll talk about how you got customers to come in. And finally, we’ll talk about, um, about funding, but how did you get all these different hotels and travel companies to work with? You?

Ashwin: So you’re absolutely right. Adobe started off as full service OTA. So flights, hotels, car rentals, all of that. And then, you know, very quickly realize that there’s no money to be made in flights. So we, and then. What happened, like in many other startups is that many other people try to do the same thing.

And then there is a lot of capital and then it’s kind of a race to the bottom, especially when you’re selling flights, which is a 5% commission business. And so what we did was to pivot to hotels, which was more 20%, uh, margin, better commission. And then we look at the opportunity in India. And I think this was an interesting opportunity to go off to actually, which was to say, let’s not go out for the five-star hotels or the chain hotels because in the U S.

That’s 40% of the market in India. 85% of the market is unbranded mom and pop type family owned hotels, but they have, I have no internet connection. They don’t have any GDS, they don’t know distribution. So we had to build a technology that could connect them to our central reservation system. So when somebody came to book deck, you could see whether this hotel had rooms, what room category, what price, et cetera, et cetera.

So that was a fun part. Uh, and that became an interesting, uh, play for us because. It was very difficult for an Expedia or Travelocity global players to come in and build those individual one-to-one connects with 3000 to 5,000 hotels in India, which eventually led to conversations of being acquired by many, many people in putting Priceline and Expedia and Travelocity and eventually Travelocity

Andrew: sorry, but how did you then get, if we’re talking about so many mom and pop hotels, how did you get them in your network?

Ashwin: so we hired a sales team, uh, and they would go from hotel to hotel. We built

Andrew: walking from hotel to hotel,

Ashwin: Um, not walking from hotel to hotel, but then we’ll go meet them. I mean, again, so if you don’t meet the Italia, in fact, you have to go meet the owner, not even the sales guy, nothing would happen. Right? And then this is not just Mumbai Delhi, Bangalore.

This is about Goa. It’s about Shimla it’s about ideally in Missouri, it’s like Alibaba is many, many small places, but you actually have a tough time even getting to, but that’s what makes the market that’s the more ready something is so easy to anybody else can do it. Then the defensibility in there. And so I think

Andrew: for getting them? Did you have a system in place? Did you have anything that allowed you to do this in a more organized way?

Ashwin: so two things, right? So you start with kind of, where is, uh, we focus more on leisure travelers. Uh, so you look at the top 20 leisure destination, then you start going after them. But the bigger thing was, how do you bring them on board on real time? One of the key innovation that travel group did is. If you booked a hotel with us, let’s say, if it’s in a tier three small city, it’s a 20 room hotel and you booked a room with us, you will get instant confirmation of that room.

And we would have a 99.7% accuracy in confirming that room. That was a bigger challenge, right? Because most of these hotels were keeping their room inventory on a ledger and writing it down. So what we had to do was to build a technology platform where they would have be able to manage that inventory.

And not on a daily time basis, but on a batch basis, like twice, twice in a day, they would connect to our system. Many cases. We would actually give them say a mobile phone that they could then use 3g in those days or G nowadays to connect. Um, but that was very, very important because for the first time somebody could come and look at hotels, book, feel comforted that, Hey, I bought a reservation, the reservation with these hotels, you can book anywhere else.

The only other way you can book them what you’d have to call them. Um, and again, you know, when you’re trying to find the best hotel, they’re like 300 hotels and go, or you can’t be calling many of them. So it was really a very valuable service.

Andrew: So you’re saying Andrew, we had to have a team of salespeople go out, but that’s not the hardest part. The hardest part was creating the software. So that once you got a new hotel on board, they would want to book with book. First of all, they would want to book, I guess, even people who walked in or called up and asking for rooms booked using our systems.

So your system would know that the rooms were booked and just keep using it even for, for travel guru. That was the challenge. That was the heart of it.

Ashwin: Okay. That was the Hartford. And then there were many, many hotels. So when they say we have 4,000 hotels, there were nearly half of them, 2000 hotels who would say, look, I don’t have internet. I kind of did the system twice. A day. So we actually ran a 200 person call center that would call these hotels twice a day and say, tell me your inventory for the next seven days or the next 10 days.

And we would have some analytics to know when the bookings would come in. Right? So if it’s a business hotel, it’s probably two to five days. If it’s alleged travel probably 15 to 30 days. So we would then cover for the fact that they didn’t have the infrastructure and technology. Obviously, nowadays, all of this in real time, everybody’s got that.

They’re doing an optimal balance. Remember this happened in 2005.

Andrew: Okay. How did you get customers? How did you get people who are booking travel to come to travel guru?

Ashwin: So, you know, uh, we got some press, some PR uh, we also did, uh, alliances with a few of the airlines, uh, with  and with Kingfisher. We worked with a lot of the credit card companies. So we would do these cashback offers. If you book a hotel and you’ll get like 20% off, like a book through a Citibank card or an ICI bank card, et cetera.

That point of time when we raised, we raised 2 million in our series eight. Well, travel is good if I, if I remember, right. So we didn’t even have a lot of money to spend on marketing. And one of the things that I did realize is that eventually larger players like make my trip, et cetera, had plays more capital.

Um, and so one of my learnings is that if you’re in a space that actually raising capital becomes the more either you play that game, or you’re better to be in a place where actually the other more defensible, more to beyond just capital. Um, and so that’s a separate piece, but, um, you know, we did a lot of these kinds of alliances and partnerships.

What we also did, uh, Andrew was to take the, once we build the technology and the connection with 4,000 hotels, then we actually went up to travel agents. And we said, look, you guys want to book hotels across India, but you don’t have a good system to do it. So why don’t you use that system and we’ll pay a cut to you.

And so we make, and we had a B2B business as well, which also did very well.

Andrew: Well, I’m wondering with all of these, all these different things in place to lock in your business and first mover advantage. I’m wondering why it didn’t work out.

Ashwin: she did it. So here’s the inside story. I, uh, which was just before 2008, I wanna take the name of the company, but one of the leading OTs in the world, they had given us a term sheet. They were going to acquire the company for five times. The valuation that we actually. And ended up spilling. Um, and, um, they spent for four to six months I’m diligence and we were about to sign and then Lehman brothers collapsed.

And, uh, this was 2008, uh, July or August if I remember. Right. Uh, and they were like, look, we’re putting this whole thing on hold. Uh, and at that point of time, actually, we had about two months of cash in the bank. And it was the collective wisdom of the board as well as mine. So I take full responsibility to say, look, we have a deal closing, why raise more capital?

But when that deal fell apart, we had two months of money in the bank and then nobody was willing to invest in that. So we had to take a bridge down internally, which I invested with good enough to do. Uh, and then come out of it with also what happened that year in 2008 is, was a perfect storm, right?

There were these, uh, terrorist attacks on the Taj and Albright hotels in Mumbai and 99% of our business was hotel. Uh, and so we took a massive, massive, hectic. Um, and so as a consequence of all of that, we traveled it. Overall travel was affected 2009, we were coming out and then eventually the investor said, look, this, this may be a better place for, you know, strategic player to invest in and grow.

Right. And so that’s when Travelocity came in, uh, and they were very strong and typically don’t travel. They were very strong in flights. They had not had too much pizza. There was somewhat successful in Indian flight, but we want to do a lot more in the accommodation and hotels. We were a perfect fit for them.

And so that’s kind of where a travel bill eventually went. So it was a bunch of things, uh, in hindsight, everybody’s wiser, et cetera, et cetera. I actually, by the way think, and this is why I don’t think that was a failure is I got all of that experience. Uh, I got to go work with Travelocity, gone a little bit of global experience working for them Pacific, but then learn so much to start my next company.

Um, and, uh, you know, uh, if I had spent a foot of five or seven years doing that, I don’t think that I don’t want to be in as large as one, cause this is today. So in hindsight, it all worked out. Uh, but yes, the 2009 was a tough, a tough year for us.

Andrew: Right. Let me talk about my first sponsor. Then I’m going to come back before we find out about how you decided to start another company. I want to get your take on Ohio. It feels like they were solving the same type of issue you dealt with in an interesting, different way. But let me first take a moment and say anyone out there, who’s now working with a remote team.

One of the things that you might be discovering is that it’s harder to communicate with people. And a lot of the communication is, Hey Andrew, I have this problem. How do I solve it? The reason to train you all was founded is they said, Every company needs a training manual, but obviously we’re not going to do it.

Yeah. Paper. We’re not going to do it in Google docs where it’s harder to edit. And it’s harder to keep organized about what people have gone through and what they have. And so the makers of trainials said, we’re going to create a training manual. That’s easy to, easy to create, easy to update. And if somebody in your company is now onboarded, they have the best knowledge of all the people who who’ve been there before.

And if you decide to change part of your process, everyone who’s learned the previous process. Just get an update with just the change so that they know just the part that they need to learn. I remember how much I struggled when I started doing Mixergy with a team of outsource people all over the world.

I had to teach every one of them. Here’s how we book guests. Here’s how we follow up with guests. Here’s how we. Deal with customer service issues. And I had to keep being the person who did it. I became the source of knowledge. We moved on to Google docs that became a pain because people didn’t feel that they, they, it was their place to edit.

And I didn’t know who read the doc and who didn’t. I wished the train, the train you all was around. When I was struggling through this. It is around. Now, if you’re working with a remote team, I want you to go and try it right now. They’ll give you a big discount if you do, but more importantly, just go see.

How much better your company could be. If you organize it with the proper training manual goes, check out, train uil.com/mixergy. You’ll get an understanding of how you can organize your company. And of course, if you decide to sign up for training, which I highly recommend, you will get a big discount from them.

That’s train. You will.com/mixergy, T R a I N U a l.com/mix C R G Y tri-annual dot com slash Mixergy. Oh, yo, Oh, you’ll seems to have solved. Or they were approaching the same problem that you saw, which was in India. Lots of different, um, mom and pops, owning hotels. It’s hard for people to discover them.

There is no consistency in any way. They created a brand name, right? Ohio, all these mom and pops were able to work under the brand name. What do you think of that model to solve the problem that you are noticing?

Ashwin: In the last year, uh, in 2000 and we had started a similar model. We had signed up to the hotel where we said, look, we’ll take all of your inventory. In fact, the biggest competition with new sell hotels and inequities in India was that you will be undercut by the hotel. So someone new would check the hotel and all the website called the hotel.

The hotel will say, look, I can give you a 20% discount booking directly with me. And we would lose that by actually solves that problem because there’s no leakage or prevalent. Um, so we had just started that with three hooked dollars. And then of course, uh, you know, the business went a different way. I think the model is interesting, but there are challenges.

The biggest challenge that oil has is that at least in the model that lead had pre COVID was they would take the entire hotel to manage. But they would like these minimum guarantees and that’s how they’ve been able to scale so fast in terms of sign-ups that if you’re a hotelier, you kind of know what you make normally like, so maybe you’re at a 60%, 70% occupancy, you know, how much money you make every month that typically ends up being a minimum guidance.

So the challenge for oil is not the signup of the hotels, but how do you then scale this to such a great extent that you actually make money, uh, by not being at 70% occupancy, but being an 80, 90% occupancy, uh, that challenge it accentuated. If you go and sign up five to 10 hotels in the very same neighborhood as that first hotel, which is what they’ve done, because they’re just so crazy about scaling.

So now how do you get all of these hotels to get to 70, 80, 90% occupancy? The other thing they have done is massive discounting of the rates. And so wide, I think they’ve done a good job of building kind of a standardized platform where you get standardized service and experience and one brand. I wonder what their financials are even pre COVID.

I mean, post COVID, obviously it’s a tough one. And then, you know how those minimum guarantee they’re going to come back and bite?

Andrew: Right. They did raise a ton of money from, um, I

Ashwin: I hope that.

Andrew: SoftBank though. It seems like they also raised from Airbnb and others. Um, you raise money for your first business for travel guru. How tough was that? How, what was that process like?

Ashwin: Well, would you ever go back to 2005 when a standard series a was like 2,000,002 pre in India? Today a standard series is like 2 million at temporary or 5 million at 15 period. Right? So the world has changed. It was very difficult. There were very, very few, uh, early stage VC investors. There was very little angel there’s very little series.

A, like I said, the biggest outcome at that time was Bazi at 50 million. Right. So if you are going to underwrite a five-year outcome of 50 million, what do you think the evaluations were, et cetera. So it was a different market. Much much better. A lot of investors have seen money because of flip card and, you know, secondary sales in Ohio and many other companies.

So the ecosystem has evolved tremendously, which is a great thing. Um, but yeah, those were those, those are more difficulties.

Andrew: all right. Where did the idea for every ditis come from?

Ashwin: So, you know, I was spending a year after setting, uh, travel Guro to travel velocity. Uh, and I was thinking about what next. Uh, I wanted to do something. So one of my learnings was do something where even if the outcome is large or even if that would become as small, that I felt fulfilled and happy that I spent 10 years pursuing that goal.

That’s it had to have some impact now, of course, travel silly, happy experiences is interesting, but it’s not life-changing right. And I get some people would argue that, but so I look at two sectors, healthcare and education and. You know, I, some, for some reason I was the beneficiary of high quality education.

It had a huge impact on my life. I would not be here if not for my HBS MBA. And I’ll say that openly and many people will disagree with me, but I don’t care. But to me, I was the beneficial of high-quality education, but how could I make many, many more people be beneficiaries of that education? So how do you scale education?

So, education was very interesting and I felt personally that I, I, it resonated better and more with me. But I was trying to think of what in education it’s such a big industry and then a common. So my chief marketing officer at travel guru, who later on, went on to become LinkedIn’s, uh, Asia head, uh, was it in Seattle alumnus?

Uh, and again, this is the network. So much of this is about who, you know, not so much what, you know. And so, uh, he connected me to my co-founder  who had come back from who had worked at, in Seattle and NCR MBA, but he had worked in, in San executer of education. And so he was very good at designing these custom learning experiences, very high impact transformational journeys.

And I, he and I met him. My first thing with, to him was look, Chad, how do we scale this? It’s not enough. If we can just teach 30 people in a classroom, how to become better, how do we teach 30,000 and 300,000? And we hit it off. And that culminated in us forming this company , um, which has changed forms in many ways and has become much bigger than either of us imagined in 2010.

And we’re so glad that happened, but that really was the Genesis of it today.

Andrew: And so there were MOOCs. These, what is it massively online? What is it? We even stand for basically. Here’s what it sounds

Ashwin: It’s not 70 open online courses.

Andrew: Thank you. It sounds like massive mess. It’s just, you get to watch a course the way you could watch a Netflix TV show. Right. But beyond that, there’s very little support. That’s my take on MOOCs.

What do you think.

Ashwin: well, I agree with kind of the description of what you do in a moose, but I wouldn’t say it’s a waste or, uh, you know, the reason is there are different kinds of learners. Look, I have signed up for a remote course, for example, on artificial intelligence without even. The illusion that I was going to complete it.

I just wanted to say, Hey, what’s going on? It was, I think a Stanford goes Andrew, and you’re somebody who was teaching. Right. And so if that was your intent, the different kinds of learners, the serious learners, and then they’re browsers. Right? And so if you just a browser and you can access courses on the world’s best universities, I think there’s value to that.

Having said that. There was a belief at one time that MOOCs are going to democratize education. It’s going to change everything bad was misplaced that I think would exaggerate it. That was misplaced. So there’s also a place for what we call Spock’s small, private online courses, where you interact with the instructor.

You have smaller groups, you do projects and groups of four or five people. Your class size could be 50, 60, you’ll get feedback. You have to do assignments and get graded to complete. There’s also very serious. Learning outcome based online education. And I think what happened in 2015, 16 is people focus so much on MOOCs.

It was kind of at the exclusion of thinking about, Hey, could there be high quality online education? I think that’s a space that we play in. So obviously I’m a little bias. I believe that’s a good place, but I would also like to say that I think there’s room for many, many models and online for self-paced as well as synchronous, right.

For the library model. Pluralsight Coursera index. You didn’t mean some sense as well as high touch online learning with a lot of work, intense work, high completion, but it also costs a lot more, right? So I think that many models and, you know, learners are different. Learning styles are different. They will be models in the future.

That will be less video based, more audio based because some learners are auditory versus visual, et cetera, et cetera.

Andrew: you had this idea that it seems to me, you thought our approach is going to be closer to what I experienced. Just at Harvard business school, smaller group of people, more interaction with the professor and more interaction with each other. Right.

Ashwin: Absolutely. We are all so driven by things we learned earlier in our lives. And so you kind of nailed it and scream and shake the hand. I started noticing that comes from NCR in exec ed. So he was this high touch customized program. And the first section of the doubt that we had in the businesses, uh, could we actually deliver high quality education?

At scale, right? Yeah. When we started, most of our programs were classroom 2010, 2011, but we were taking, for example, an NCI II MBA, which was, uh, 18 months, experience compressing into a one-year program, non MBA, but very similar. And it had about eight weeks of teaching and we were like, look, we’re trying to compress a two year MBA into like eight weeks of teaching.

Is that even possible? And then when we went online, we had the same question and how do we take the best of a business school, which is yes, great faculty, but so much of it is peer learning, the majority of his interaction outside of the classroom, in those Carters. How do we replicate that in an online environment?

Because. Our true belief was that for us to succeed, our mission is high quality education. And so when we said, look, even online has to be high quality. There was a perception that, you know, that online is inferior to the classroom. I suspect it still exists, but thanks to what’s happened with the mainstreaming of online because of the pandemic.

I think that perception has kind of changed a lot, but in 2015, the

Andrew: that I agree. It, it seems to me like there are a lot of people who are saying, wait, why am I getting this inferior online education? When I paid for an in-person program college specifically though, I I’d

Ashwin: well, because they’re not competing, they’re not comparing apples and apples. Right? So you played for college, but that comes with, you know, the experience in the dorm with athletics, within a bunch of other stuff that happened, social stuff, et cetera. So that was your expectation. Yeah. And you’re getting a, kind of an online CRO program, but look, nobody’s promising you all of that.

So the like to like would have been that look if I just came, so let’s say somebody came in in the evening program or a weekend program, but they didn’t have any of those paraphernalia. But the focus is on the education. And if we deliver that evening program or that we can program completely online, as far as the education and the networking Wyndham, that class goes, I think you can actually do a day job.

Now, the other stuff that a university life gives you, which I think by the way is very, very valuable. Right. So I would, for example, say that for a bachelor of education, is that, you know, is it foundational and useful for you to be in a liberal arts college and learn from many other pedagogies and in a bunch of subjects and choose this and like, yeah, absolutely.

Right. But for a master’s and say data science, do we need all of that? If you just go straight into the curriculum and become a very good data scientist, the answer is probably you can, uh, and that’s kind of what we’re saying. So as long as you do an apples to apples comparison, Andrew, I think online will hold up by the way, there are many other advantages of online.

So for example, not everybody can come to classroom. So again, think about this from the world like today, about two thirds of 66% of our students are outside the U S they can’t come to an MIT. To do that data science course, I would’ve booked it to do an AI course though. Those institutions are cutting edge in research.

If you’re sitting in China, if you’re sitting in Indonesia in India, how do you have access? And so for those people actually online is actually better because the next best alternative was a local college or local university, or do nothing.

Andrew: Agreed. Okay. So I see your vision. What’s the first step you took.

Ashwin: So the first time, I actually was a small experiment where, you know, chit chat and I said, look, you know, we also want to make education more accessible and affordable. So we said, let’s get, uh, faculty from NCI. We got a faculty from the intro to, I am the man and we did a 10 day program at like one third, the cost of what it would be if you’ve been to any of the top schools in India or

Andrew: To the faculty at NCI, that was the school that he went to. I think that he got his MBA from, you went to the faculty there. Hired them part-time to come and teach. So it wasn’t in conjunction with NCR. It was just, you hired their professors. Am I right?

Ashwin: That was the first step. It was also a misstep, but it

Andrew: again, no partnership just, Hey, we’re putting up a help.

Wanted ad. Let’s see if we can get some of their professors. Got it. And then let’s see if we can get some students. You know what? I always had that fantasy. I, what I’ve got to tell you. I remember how much I paid for my, for my undergrad education. I remember thinking. I bet if we got 10 of us together to hire the best of these professors to come and do into our detour dorm room in a coffee shop in a private room, anything, and just teach us.

I bet I would have a cheaper education. It’s much more valuable, closer relationship with the teacher and the rest I don’t need. I mean, I wasn’t athletic at all. I didn’t need to pay for the big gym that they had at the school that my friends were were enjoying. Anyway, that was your

Ashwin: Exactly. Right. So it’s like great minds think alike.

Andrew: I wonder if it’s,

Ashwin: the further.

Andrew: all right, so you actually did something about it. So you brought them in how’d you get the students to agree, to come and learn this way.

Ashwin: You only got 12 students. And that was the catch because the point is, how do you go and tell people that, Hey, this NCR professor is so, so, so good. And this curriculum is actually so good and that we are so good as a no-name entity at that point in time to deliver this high quality education for you. So the challenge that we encountered.

While we had the same faculty, you could deliver great content when they were on campus. We were at one third. The price is we couldn’t convince enough students to believe in, in that they not, I think again,

Andrew: What was the class?

Ashwin: it was called strategic marketing. It was a 10 day program. Uh, it was a very specific time. It was started on weekends.

So it was over five weekends. Um, and you could argue many, many reasons. And so one of the things that we realized, we actually went back to make me have to be sold to companies as well. So we went back to an HR head and said, look, why didn’t you not nominate more people? And there’s simple answers. Look, if I sent a employee, a senior employee to an inset program, I know I’m paying more, but if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t blame me because if I send that person to your program and for some reason they didn’t like it, they would blame me.

Because, uh, sorry, whose program is it? It’s a no-name person. Why did it even send me here? Uh, and then we asked individuals, the individuals told us, look, we come to your program. That’s great. But I’m on LinkedIn. Who knows you guys, nobody. So I’ve got the pay more. And for the time I’m investing and have a brand that signals to people around me that look, I actually got a good education.

And so that became a very interesting thing. And that’s why I’d say endo to my earlier point. Is that a failure? Yeah, that experiment failed. But that was the foundation on which we built  model thereafter became saying, look, why don’t we work with the institutions? They have the brands, they have the credibility, but let’s work with them in getting their price or access independence to a point where actually they meet the market halfway.

So are we then went inside directly. Uh, Michael found that day that I had worked with, they had a big get it in Seattle and their problem, by the way. And at the point of time, a lot of universities are looking to get students globally, uh, to come to their campuses, whether it’s like school of education or even for their degree programs in Sierra had a unique problem in their executed MBA.

They hardly got anybody from India. In the normal MBA to 12 month residential, they got a lot of people from India, but in their part-time Mexico and MBA, they were not getting anybody in India and they wanted to get more. So we created this program with NCI, we’ll just call the NCI leadership program. It had alumni status, it was not MBA.

So it was not, not giving a degree. And they said, look, if we get 2025 people in this program, we’ll be very excited. We ended up with 55. And we didn’t look back after that. And that was a huge moment for us. And it had, we got very few people. I don’t think we would be here today. Chaitanya and I both worked before and I was the chief marketing officer.

He was the head of sales. We were head of BD. It was just the two of us, our wives chipped in. Uh, it was basically, you know, the two of us working in our arguments and getting this going. But we learned so much because we understood why these students were signing out. What were their concerns then? What did they, one of the program and et cetera.

So in the first year we had one university it’s so happened that NCL and Wharton had a partnership, which they still do. So Wharton became a second partner in the second year. Then a Wharton faculty went to MIT. MIT became our third party. And that third in the first five years, we had just five partners one every year, but we really focused on this product market fit.

What do the students want? What do the universities want? One of the universities of, I mean, they have been served as well when they

Andrew: want? What did they

Ashwin: So the universities, universities, even if they’re business schools, right. I think first and foremost, their schools, right? So they want a high caliber, a bunch of students in a classroom.

The faculty, for example, they love teaching students in India for the mat in the middle East or Latin America, because these are very engaging students and they ask a lot of questions and they want one is the, sorry, go ahead. You had a question.

Andrew: I think I get what you’re saying. There’s this, it’s almost like they’re the startups of the education world. These students who are outside the U S you’re, you’re mentioning India, Asia, you’re saying they want access to these students who are hungry to learn who have, um, uh, the possibility of growing hugely.

And they don’t have access to them. They want in on that, the way that, um, Okay. I think, I think I get what you’re going for. Got it.

Ashwin: Okay. When we say students keep in mind, most of these are mid career professional to senior working executable. These are

Andrew: you intentionally went after them because why did you go? I see that a lot. It’s you said we’re not going to go after somebody who would, um, who do undergrad. We want the person who would nights or weekends or one week a year, go and learn. Why do you want these people who are mid-career.

Ashwin: So, and one is the undergrad grad, the master’s or bachelor’s level degree programs is a regulated market. And we wanted to stay clear of regulation. That was number one, but the bigger opportunity was to say that we saw this trend happening where India, China, LATAM, these economies were growing tremendously.

And so for the mid career professionals, perhaps with the family as well, but also learning decently, well, the opportunity costs to pack your bags, go off to school for two years is becoming larger and larger and larger. And so, and then the other thing is I saw this in travel group, the paucity of talent, and my managers, I didn’t, you felt this need that you need to up-skill and re-skill them.

And so we look at all of this antelope, that’s an attractive market to play, and that’s where the schools were struggling as well. Right? So it was a combination I’ll make, was articulated huge market, and there was a huge need for up-skilling and risk. And you should look at somebody who’s 10 years in their career when they did that.

Bachelor’s and master’s, they were not taught artificial intelligence or machine learning or robotics or robotic automation. None of that. And yet all of those are the buzzword that I would say be on the buzzword. Those are key to being successful today, but none of those people, if 10 years into the career can go back to a full-time program.

And so that was the opportunity that we saw and especially in a possibly emerging market, it’s a huge skills deficit and that’s what we want to solve.

Andrew: say Ashwin also that that’s where there’s revenue, that there’s, that there companies that are willing to pay for their, their, uh, executives, education, their executives who have the money and the willingness to do this. Am I right about that?

Ashwin: Look in education. There’s it’s a $7 trillion market. There’s money in K-12. That you know, there’s money in undergrad, that money in grad and there’s money in post-secondary education as well. So if people were just money minded, profit minded, actually the biggest basis, K-12, that’s where we should have gone.

Yes, there is money here, but look, you know, it also seemed like a good fit for us. Ultimately you have to find, you know, people talk about product market fit. I also always talk about founder opportunity fit. Right. I don’t think I would have been very successful in K-12, you know, 10 years ago. It’s not a space.

I understand working with universities, especially given my co-founder had worked at a university, uh, you know, looking at how we can reach, uh, working professionals in India and Asia to start with where I had spent a lot of time. I thought it was a good product, uh, pound of fit. Right. But that’s kind of where we started and, you know, was it the right place?

I think, yes. They’ve been companies in the us, for example, I’ve tried to go to the degree market and then into the skilling market, I think skilling was the right place for us to start. And we met going to other places in the future.

Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my second sponsor and then we’ll come back in here. Um, the second sponsor is a company called top towel. One of the reasons why people sign up to hire developers from top town is they have tried hiring on their own and it was. A nightmare. It takes way too long.

They’ve tried hiring from these other marketplaces where you can hire freelancers. And a lot of times the people that they hire are undependable. In fact, one of the benefits of using top talent is that they stand behind the people that they place with you. And you’re not just going onto a site, filling out a form.

You’re talking to a human being who will help make sure that you get the right match or many people who sign up for top Taleb discovered that they have hired agencies and it takes longer than the agency says at the beginning to get the job done. It’s less transparent and it’s. Feels more like you’re outsourcing, sourcing your work instead of gaining the expertise internally.

So they go to top towel, they hire developer from top towel. It starts off with a Matra who has a conversation with them, who then says, I understand what you need. I’ll go to our network and get those people for you. They get the people in front of the company. Do is zoom or video chat the way that Ashwin and I are doing right now, and anyone who was happy, uh, hiring can just hire an often get started within days.

And the beauty of it is the top house still stands there. They still back there people. In fact, if you use top towel.com/mixergy, Not only will they give you 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, they’re also going to give you a no risk trial period of up to two weeks because they stand by their people.

If you haven’t talked to them, no obligation. Just go have a conversation by going to top towel.com/mixergy that’s top isn’t top of your head, talent and talent. T O P T a l.com/m I N E R G Y. They’ve been with me now for about half a decade because Ash, when people keep hiring from top top-down, which makes me very proud, um, I see, I see how you got started.

How did you get more students in, what was your marketing at that point?

Ashwin: Yeah. Initially digital marketing, uh, some B talking to companies, very focused in India. When we started it very quickly, we realized as a Indian diaspora, also in the middle East and then in Singapore. So we expanded to having offices in Dubai and Singapore. And I would say until about 25, it’s about five to six years since we started, it was predominantly classroom, some online, but India and Asia and middle East in 2015, we launched our first online course and I would actually try to think of our evolution as pre online and post online.

And since 2015, we realized that, look, if you have an online course on design thinking from MIT, There’s no reason why you can’t market this and in Brazil, in Yarra, in China, in Australia, wherever else in the world. And then all of a sudden, in a matter of a couple of months, we went from being, you know, a regional player to being a global.

It took us. It’s also, I think, uh, relevant to say that, you know, Chad and I, and the people we had, we always had a global mindset. And so when that opportunity presented itself to us, we said, look, why don’t we make this global. So we then slowly started hiring a team in the U S uh, and so on. So, but today we offer our courses also in Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin, 15% of our enrollments are actually in non-English courses.

We will experiment with other languages. We have offices in Mexico city, uh, in Columbia. In China and Shanghai. And so, because I’m very, very global. And so now it will be a marketing, mostly digital there’s local affiliates as well in different markets. It’s a full stack visual first approach.

Andrew: create that in-person comradery that comes from from standard education.

Ashwin: So, you know, we believe that, uh, online can only work. If there are two things. One is there has to be a real world application. Right. Uh, the biggest criticism of MOOCs are that, okay, learn some content, but unless you apply it, you’re really not going to get better at anything. Right. The second is, you know, social learning actually is very important, uh, because, because learning outcomes are better when you actually learn, we gather in groups.

And so we try to build both of these elements into the pedagogical tools that we use in our courses. Right. So if you do a digital marketing course, You will have a simulation where you’re going to get some credit on Facebook or Google and then, or you’re going to run a campaign and you’re going to learn from that.

So that’s the real world application

Andrew: a group of other students.

Ashwin: I was going to get to that. So with a group. So, so the two ways, the two ways in which the peer learning happens in that there’s one simulation where you work as a team. So four of you together make the decision. Then you learn from each other as you’re doing that.

But we also have one simulation where you do that individually. But then you get the leaderboard, you see what other people do, and then you do a debrief with a group of people, small groups of five or six people. Okay. What did they do that you didn’t do? And vice versa. Right? And so building in these rich social learning experiences is very, very important.

Now in a classroom, the faculty will just say, Hey, why don’t you guys just go and huddle the Anaconda and figure it out. Uh, it’s a little more difficult to do online because look, your students are going to be in 80 different countries. They’re going to be on different time zones. And, you know, when you, when you designed for say six people meeting at some time, you’ve got to assume that two, three of them will not turn up.

And so how do you design, keeping in mind, all of these constraints, things that you might take for granted in a classroom, but don’t happen in an online environment. And so, but it’s fun because when you get that right, Then you get stuff like a net promoter score of 50, a completion rate of 90% people think, Hey, my learning outcomes, 88% of a student, like you say that the course met the learning outcomes.

That’s super exciting because then you can say look online scale, but it can scale with high quality learning outcomes. And that’s always been this. This kind of dichotomy of this question that people have had have had in higher ed. Right? Uh, the fact is that, Hey, you can’t scale education because it’s something so personal about a teacher and a student looking eye to eye and learning from each other.

But I think online actually, when you get the pedagogy, like the application of peer learnings skills with good luck.

Andrew: Let me get a little bit more basic with it. When people are working on a project together, are they using zoom? Are they using video sharing to talk to each other in between those, those sessions? Are they using something like Slack? What, what are you guys building in that allow that allows that to happen?

Ashwin: Give them the option to choose the tool they want. Uh, there’s a Slack channel that they could use and create the groups and chat about it. Some people use WhatsApp, which is easier. Uh, but when it comes to the peer to peer learning and the live project debrief, we tend to use zoom, but in some markets, some country that is not, uh, you a favorite.

And so they can use a different technology if they want. But predominantly look, the technology per se is not the limiting factor. What I mean by that is zoom works. You can do project work on zoom. There’s some cases. For example, we have negotiation simulations where you come onto the simulation, the simulation tool will pair you into a buyer and a seller.

And at that moment you will get instructions if it causes the negotiation and plays it back for you to go back and do stuff so that we have proprietary technology that we build up. Right. But for the most part, teamwork can happen on zoom. It can be Microsoft teams. The chatting that happened between teams can happen on our platform itself, or people can decide to use Slack or WhatsApp or some other technology.

Andrew: You know, though, what many people are having now is a challenge of lack of connection. When, when work has gone virtual. So you seeing companies get together and people are talking about the, the job, but they’re not going beyond the job to the place where they could care about each other enough to have a situation like you had, where two students who you went to school with, ended up backing you financially sight unseen, trusting you.

It’s how do you create that type of connection with someone remotely?

Ashwin: So, you know, we have many courses and do some courses that are just eight weeks in duration, so difficult to do in that. But we also luckily have six months and nine month duration courses, which are delivered completely online in those, we do a lot more. Right? So for example, we would have in-city meetups.

Uh, we would have this kind of work, which will kind of after hours with people will just come in and they will share something about their country and people will present a shared ideas. We will do what we call these marketplace of ideas. Which is, Hey, I need help in buying a house or I need help with the, I need to, can somebody point me to a lawyer who knows copyright law?

And then anybody in the group of particles, Hey, I can help you. And then they’ll connect offline. So we’ve done a lot of these, uh, social connect events, uh, in some cases, uh, we being the kind of bring them to campus for one or two late graduation, even though it is an online course because people want to meet face-to-face.

So there are a bunch of these and by the way, that’s very important. And we’ve seen this post COVID. In fact, in many of our longer courses, we’ve also kind of brought in the faculty or a counselor to talk to students about just kind of people are stressed and that’s the nature of thing. Some people fall back because they’re juggling so many different things at the same time.

Uh, for a lot of people, the fact that they don’t have access to daycare is a big challenge because they’re working from home, but they also have the family and the kids to take care of and they have to do a course. And so we have to support them in those learning journeys, which is also what we do by the way students.

One is two 50. One is two 75. We would have a dedicated tutor. We call them a cost data who supports them during the journey of the course. And you’ve seen that, you know, the last six months, a lot more of that support is required. For various, it’s not just the academic part, but also just kind of hand-holding and supporting them as they go to the other people in their lives.

Andrew: I’ve got a couple of notes here that I wanted to circle back on. One of them is I remember seeing that you supported India’s move to limit Chinese apps. Um, can you talk a little bit about that? I didn’t know that that’s a big topic in the world today.

Ashwin: So I didn’t put it that way. I said it has to be a two way street if this is the country that is banning YouTube, Google, Facebook, et cetera. Um, then I will suppose that other countries may be within their rights to do the same. The thing that actually support is a two way street where nobody is allowed, it’s a free market,

Andrew: saying there should be Google in China and in turn, there could be a Tik TOK or whatever the app is.

Ashwin: I mean, isn’t that the best thing for the whole world?

Andrew: That’s what I’d prefer.

Ashwin: That’s what I prefer. That’s what I said. I didn’t say that I prefer a banning B and B banning a bag, but if it’s not a level playing field and you can understand why somebody may be prompted to do that. Uh, that’s kind of what I was saying.

Andrew: okay. Another thing that I saw in my notes was you, you said, I think you even said it earlier in this interview, you said you got into Harvard, but. But true, but no other school, I think you said took you that what was going on? Why is it that you feel like Harvard almost? Did you a favor?

Ashwin: Well, four schools, Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Columbia. I think I spent most of my attention applying to Harvard business school. It was a school I did want to go to, uh, maybe that was partly due to that, but you know, when I wrote my essays, uh, to go to Harvard, it was about, uh, doing something in microcredit and having social impact.

And I think that resonated very well because you know, the, the school at that time had this initiative on social impact social enterprise, and they had a mandate to ha to admit 10% of the students who would go into non-profit or in a social, uh, types of roles. I, you know, you could argue that time doing something on the lines that actually have always wanted to be real education is one of those things that has a huge impact.

So maybe that that’s what resonated with Harvard business school. Um, but you know, who knows.

Andrew: All right. What about a number of, of students now that you’ve had go through your programs and revenue from it?

Ashwin: So last year we had about 50,000 students. Uh, our average course realization is about $2,000. So we were about a hundred million dollars in bookings last year. This year we’ll double so 50,000 students going to a hundred thousand and, uh, booking revenue going to 200 million.

Andrew: Any special, maybe we can close it out with a store, a success story of one of your students.

Ashwin: Well, you know, in our very first batch that I taught, I spoke about this a NCR program and there was this lady, her name was . She used to work at de beers. Uh, she’s always been in marketing, uh, but she has always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And, uh, but didn’t have an MBA, didn’t have a business degree and, you know, he’s been working for the last, I think 10 to 12 years before she came to this program.

What is very, very interesting is she did this program. She quit, uh, she started her own company, uh, and uh, raised capital and is doing extremely well now. And she could it’s this program. And by the way, I think one of the investors invest in the company. She met because of the program, the incentive program, but there’s part of it has an entrepreneurship kind of get together.

It’s called the inset entrepreneurship dialogue and she met an investor, one of the NCF professors, but they also invested in her company. So to me, this is like, this is a great story, because look, she learned a lot, but the networks she got in the program, which is something that we are trying to really create.

Uh, helped us start, but to education, I think should be, uh, should light kind of, uh, ignite a fire for you to realize your true ambition. And in her case, a true ambition was to be an entrepreneur and that program was a catalyst for her to achieve that goal. Uh, and that’s, to me a success story.

Andrew: Yeah. And men, I feel like your company is a success story. Everything that I’ve read online shows me that this is the model that will work. This is the model that will work for education in many other areas, too. I feel like in many, many times that I’ve interviewed entrepreneurs who are changing education, it’s become more about, let’s get to programs.

Like how do you get people to code? How do you get people to do one specific thing, not shaped the way they think it’s almost too hard to shape the way people think remotely, it’s almost too hard to get them to connect with other people. So they say, we’re going to leave that alone. We’re going to focus on getting them a specific result.

And, and you’re opening us up to a new model for going beyond that. All right. Why, why are you even doing this interview with me? I’m grateful that you’re here, but I wonder what’s in it for you. You’ve got, you’ve got so many universities that are working with you. What’s the upside for you doing an interview with me, or I’ve seen a couple of other interviews that you’ve done.

Why are you doing it?

Ashwin: Well, I didn’t know you had to do all your interviews and not just about higher education. It’s more about entrepreneurship. If there’s one message that I would love to this interview for people to hear is that. Nope. You know, entrepreneurship has many ops, many downs. Yes. One in 10 entrepreneurs will succeed in the traditional definition of success, but I hope people have heard this.

Have you realize that my first startup was kind of moderately successful? I considered to be extremely successful. But it laid the foundation for my mix startups. So there’s the whole notion if I can, you know, leave people with one pile, the idea is that look, the only different between them and a successful entrepreneur, the successful entrepreneurs started, he or she shied.

Uh, it isn’t an important message to people. I know I it’s, it’s true. I’m not smarter than anybody else. I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. I didn’t have somebody that is helping me out. And, you know, and I’ve had my share of ups and downs made tons of mistakes, all of that, but I embarked on that journey.

And so if, if, you know, after cutting, there’s a few more people in buck on the journey, some of them will be very upset because they may have in the traditional sense failed, but they will be those one or two. Let’s say, look, maybe I started there because you kind of gave me the confidence to go out there and try something.

That would be an awesome, awesome ROI of this conversation. And you have the reach to many budding entrepreneurs in my life, heard some of the part that you inspire them similarly. So, uh, this is a good platform.

Andrew: I’m looking forward to one of the people who’s listening to this interview, at least coming over to you five, 10 years from now and saying, I heard you, I finally decided I was going to do it, or I heard you and I kept at it. And here’s what happened as a result. And I asked when I appreciate you being here, the website is readiness.

I feel like I’m mispronouncing your company name or UTIs readiness.

Ashwin: but it’s Latin. So it’s, so you’re entitled to mispronounce it as long as you type it in properly. Okay.

Andrew: All right. And the way to spell it and type it in right is E R U D I T U s.com. And I’m thankful to the two sponsors who made this interview happen. Top towel.com/mixergy and trainable.com/mixergy. Thank you. Ashwin

Ashwin: Thanks, Andrew. Lovely talking to you.

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