Mumbai-based Eruditus Executive Education, is focussed on providing high-end professional development courses to employees in mid and higher management level. This is in collaboration with top-end business educational institutions. 2010-started Eruditus has a student base from four different geographies. The co-founder, Chaitanya Kalipatnapu, discusses the vision and future plans with Pankaj Joshi.
Q. What is the vision of the organisation?
Eruditus has a core team which has been the beneficiary of high-end education and understood its benefits in working life. We therefore aimed to cascade the same benefits to a wider community. To give some perspective, annually around 1, 50,000 Indians write the CAT, but only a few thousand get access to quality management programmes of the IIM and equivalents. The rest suffer from an exposure gap (in formal management education) which shows up in skills, and then later on in opportunities.
We talked to INSEAD, the French graduate business school with campuses in the Middle East and Singapore. Our focus here was beyond general management, on other things like leadership skills. Wharton partnership happened in 2012, which was vital in helping us move beyond the B2C segment to corporate clients. MIT tie-up positioned us well for the tech sector and Columbia University tie-up enabled us to offer programmes with global emphasis. Both Wharton and our subsequent tie-up with Harvard have enabled us to bring the campus to corporates. With these brands, having an appeal across different geographies, we could then establish offices in Dubai and Singapore, and access a market across the Middle East, South East Asia and India.
Q. How do you combine campus & online teaching platforms in your growth plan?
Emeritus Institute of Management was an initiative we started in collaboration with our co-partners, where the digital mode enables quality education to be given online. The benefits are obvious – flexibility and affordability for the candidates, and a higher scale of activity for us. In online learning, the key factor is to ensure the participant does not switch off mentally. We saw that modular and spaced-out learning keeps you hooked, and gives time to reflect, unlearn where necessary and come back to participate better.
Our first initiative was a part-time modular programme of nine weeks’ time spread over a year, with 100 graduates in India. Today, we have trained 6,500 participants in the past twelve months and are aiming to raise this to 20,000 in the next twelve months. The intent now is that we should be deepening our footprint through new programmes. We are also building new courses – today we have 15 online courses and eight blended, which we aim to get around 30 and 15 respectively over the next year. New areas for us would include artificial intelligence, machine learning, auto-driven cars and applied analytics.
Today of our 6,500 students, 25-30 per cent are from India and a similar number from the USA. Around 20 per cent are from the Middle East and the rest from South East Asia and Latin America. Now we are looking at creating presence in China and Latin American markets by talking to local partners and exploring options, including course content translations.
Technology is obviously a vital ingredient here because 10-15 lakh man hours will get handled by the system annually and we are seeking ways to better this experience. Our engagement rate of 85 per cent is among the topmost, with online random questions, assignments, group submissions and even group members’ feedback for each individual student. Our centre of excellence, based in Boston, is focussed on how people learn, which medium (text, images, video) works well for which type of matter and therefore how should course design get disrupted and redone.
Q. Given the need for career growth and the current volatile business environment, what is the value Eruditus represents?
We are very focussed on career outcome for the candidates. As of now, 80 per cent of our batch has experienced an up move in the subsequent 12-month period or a 25-30 per cent pay enhancement, or both. Our interaction with search firms tells us that they also value someone more who invests in his or her capabilities, so we are a facilitator in that way. Given that we are representatives of top-line brands, we also take our responsibility of screening candidates seriously. On the other hand, since these are high-value courses, we evaluate the fitment of candidates from that angle as well. Given the value and weightage of such decisions for the candidates, these involve multiple conversations.
Sometimes, our courses are designed for needs which are unmet but not yet quantified. Two years back, no one would have thought of digital businesses as course material. We have added that to our portfolio in the past twelve months, in partnership with Columbia University, and today the USD 36,000 course has 50 students across 18 nations. Twelve months back, we had four blended courses, today we have eight.
We have customised courses for BPCL, NTPC, Accenture, Axis Bank and even for the office of the Prime Minister of Abu Dhabi. We are also considering programmes focussed on specific sectors. Our broad thinking is course content based on functions, regions, or new-age topical needs. We want to be seen as a company with Indian roots, and having a global impact through delivery of courses which will help enhance successful careers and enable candidates to step up to the next level.
Q. Can you share your numbers in the context of the overall market estimates?
The market size for digital learning in higher education is globally around USD 17 billion, and Asia contributes 20 per cent of that. The blended learning market is another USD 5-6 billion. As far as India goes, it is estimated that the executive education market here is around Rs 300-400 crore.
In terms of Eruditus numbers, we would want to close FY2018 at a revenue of Rs 250 crore across 20,000 students, wherein 80-85 per cent students would be for the short-term courses (average value of Rs 1 lakh) and the others for blended, longer-duration courses (average value of Rs 25 lakh). Our financial investor, Bertelsmann, is a not-for-profit body based out of Germany and has a strategic viewpoint towards our business, beyond just financial returns. We are regularly injecting our surpluses into business and even prior to the private equity round we had positive cash generation.