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Ronnie Screwvala on rebuilding edtech's credibility post Byju's, upGrad’s enterprise plans, and more

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Sohini Mitter

29 reads
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Sohini Mitter

29 reads

Veteran entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala has several things on his mind. But undoing the trail of chaos left by Byju’s and restoring edtech’s reputation in India top that list. In this edition of ‘CapTable Conversations’, the multihyphenate delves into his business, philanthropic, and passion pursuits.

March 18, 2024

12 MINS READ

It’s a balmy afternoon in March when we meet Ronnie Screwvala at his South Bombay office. News is just trickling in that Byju’s has relinquished all its office space and asked employees to work from home until further notice. 

Screwvala, who’s been extraordinarily candid about his views on the embattled edtech thus far, takes a sip off his coffee, smirks briefly, and remarks, “When people don’t have a plan, it seems like they themselves are in kindergarten—the segment they serve. These K-12 guys effed up the market by overspending on cricket and whatever else. They need to grow up.” 

And just like that, we’re on. 

As a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, “accidental” investor, author, and film producer, Screwvala has traversed a spectrum of sectors—successfully and influentially—over the last four decades. In his current avatar, he runs upGrad, an edtech unicorn in the upskilling and workforce development space. The company’s revenues have surged over 95% in the last four fiscals, but its net losses have widened too. In the year ended March 2023 (FY23), its losses jumped 76% to Rs 1,142 crore.  

THE UPSHOT

Screwvala remains unfazed. “The B2C model worked when everyone was a naysayer. We’ve established that Indians do pay for high-value products,” he tells The CapTable.

“Now, after doing B2C for 5-7 years, we can go to B2B much more easily. We’re already the largest enterprise learning player in skilling and workforce development in India today. And 20% of our total revenue in FY24 is coming from non-India markets,” he shares.

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