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Ashwin Ajila: From Economic Consultant to Founding India's Largest Virtual University

Ashwin Ajila: From Economic Consultant to Founding India's Largest Virtual University

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<a href='httpss://inurture.co.in/' style='color: #006699 !important;'>Ashwin Ajila</a>,   Founder & Managing Director

Ashwin Ajila

Founder & Managing Director

It was almost the denouement of the year 2005. An unusual number of sodden tea bags visible on his work-table amidst the hot Arabian summer had only one denotation, AshwinAjila, a Chartered Accountant(CA) from KPMG (Manchester) who started his professional career with the same firm in Bahrain, was intensely muddled with his thoughts. He knew that every passing day at the office denudes the same fact that he doesn’t belong to the tiny cubicles, but needs to pursue his passion for
entrepreneurship. But the thoughts about its drastic cost–idling his hard-earned CA qualifications and leaving behind a financially secured career, were well-explained by the tea bags. Yet, the day ended with Ashwin bravely quitting his job, and within a matter of days, he flew back to India to inscribe his own success anecdote.

A quick cut to the present, Ashwin is one of the most successful Edupreneurs in the world today.And he does n’t have to intake much of caffeine anymore, as he has successfully pursued his passion and is the founder & Managing Director of India’s largest virtual university–iNurture Education Solutions. iNurture is a pioneer in enabling career-ready formal higher education in India by offering and upgrading industry relevant undergraduate & postgraduate (UG & PG) programs of premium Indian & global universities that cater to the jobs of tomorrow. With a unique University-Industry Partnership (UIP) model and most importantly a pristine vision to take part in nation building, Ashwin encountered the world’s third-largest higher educational system, which ironically craved for skilling & re-skilling to make its students employable. Today, while having already established UIP with over 35 premium Universities across the country, iNurture is close to becoming the world’s largest virtual university with over 9000 students enrolled under its UG & PG programs and a 700+ people strong workforce deployed the world over.

"The story of Ashwin & iNurture is also the story of the Indian higher education system eventually finding a solution to its single biggest challenge ever – the crater between industry & academia"

An Anecdote of Perseverance
The story of Ashwin & iNurture is also the story of the Indian higher education system eventually finding a solution to its single biggest challenge ever – the crater between industry & academia. Rewinding back to where it all began, Ashwin while surrendering his CA career to passion had not just thought about him, but millions of students graduating every year across the world without recognizing their passion and having no idea of what to do with their degree. While this thought triggered his entrepreneurial nerves, on the flip side of the coin, the constant battle of industries with insufficient skills & practical knowledge of students(candidates) provided him with a lucid business idea. In 2005, he started discussions with Universities towards bridging the long ventilated gap between industry & academia; but even though the unemploy ability was as true as the daylight, the days ahead were no cake walk for Ashwin.
“To convince and get on-board the first university, it took us three long years! It was no wonder, as unlike the other startup-friendly domains, Edtech doesn’t have an easy entry-exit model. Though the demand was enormous, it took great efforts to make universities fathom the effectiveness of the long-haul investment. Moreover, they were initially reluctant to accept that somebody could help them do their job better,” asserts Ashwin.

Ashwin hailing from a family that owns and manages a Deemed University (NITTE University, Mangalore) not only gave him access to a wide network of subcontinent’s prime Universities, but also intrinsically proffered him a sense of how the institutions think, while his people management &conversation skills aided in conveying the business model to and building the trust among Universities. “Despite my traces in the educational industry, it was also a learning curve in terms of meticulous regulatory constraints, which guided me towards building a business model strictly around the regulations,” adds Ashwin. His perseverance eventually paid off and Ashwin established iNurture in the year 2009.

Taking Bull by its Horns
But Ashwin knew he had just broken the tip of the iceberg when further challenges soon took iNurture for a roller coaster ride over the next couple of years. As iNurture offers graduate programs on emerging and state-of-the-art technologies through an on-campus face-to-face model, huge investments were inevitable in order to hand-pick an elite group of faculty members who perfectly align with the vision of the organization, and thus build quality modules. Needless to say, the budding entrepreneur was immediately thrown into the dusty startup-funding grounds.

“Raising capital was a huge challenge. It was so because the tech-interventions first happen in the crowded & consolidated K-12 space, before migrating to higher education space. Hence, there was hardly any for-profit higher education company existed in the country, and that lifted the eyebrows of a lot of investors,” recalls Ashwin. But just like the old adage, fortune favored the brave – the need for such an effective business model like Ashwin’s proposal, which could bridge industry & academia forever, was quite lucid and it was inevitable. In 2010, iNurture had its first round of influx of $2 million, which was followed by a $5 million funding round, and ever since then, it has been a lot more easier for Ashwin to rope in investors to his company.

Driven by his ‘Corporate-CA’ instincts, Ashwin earmarked the funds with a lot of clarity & precision, and was quite successful in chiseling a robust & proactive management team of 13 members who complete the big family of iNurture. Having raised capital from four investors (like Ascent and Bertelsmann) till date, iNurture’s business model today is widely acceptable and in truth, the investors are quite excited about its huge global potential, thanks to the increasing demand posted from different parts of the globe. Within three years, iNurture aspires to become the world’s largest University that doesn’t have a campus of its own!

With love, Friends & Family!
Ashwin, however, was never alone in this journey. He dedicates this overwhelming success to his family and friends, who have been his supporting frameworks all along. Though Ashwin’s parents were initially dismayed by his decision to quit his job and idle his CA degree, his father believed in him, and supported him with a fair amount of initial CAPEX to kick-start his journey. “No one understands my stress and tension like my wife does. She is from a business family
and has been the crux in engendering a favorable milieu around our home, which is a crucial aspect of my life,” says Ashwins. While family playing an instrumental role in an entrepreneur’s success is quite a norm these days, Ashwin lives amidst a group of amazing friends who never let him release the throttle. He adds, “Every time my back was against the wall, especially when it was taking much longer to raise funds, it was my friends who came forward and offered helping hands to keep me going”.

Taking the Revolution Forward
It’s an undeniable fact that the quality of education is poised to play an instrumental role in India’s demographic dividend and its way to the helm of the world. Taking part in nation building through a socially committed organization inspires and drives the entire team of iNurture and they boast of proclaiming that any global school can now come to India and monetize their content to createa generation of ready-to-plug skilled workforce.

"The visionary, Ashwin today is busy setting the strategies for taking this revolution forward by exploring new international markets, augmenting the portfolio with new programs and technology solutions"

The visionary, Ashwin today is busy setting the strategies for taking this revolution forward by exploring new international markets, augmenting the portfolio with new programs and technology solutions, and expanding iNurture’s footprint. Although not a tech-savvy person himself, he ensures that state-of-the-art technology remains the crux of the company’s offerings through a team of dedicated technocrats, and of late by acquiring a hardcore tech-startup. A leader who loves indulging in the thick of students, Ashwin continuously strives to inspire them to become not just skillful employees, but the employers of tomorrow, since our country needs them in bulk. “I don’t believe in the ‘golden rules’ that will make you successful. I tell them (students) not to worry about failure, because even the most successful entrepreneurs have failed at some point in their life. The key is not giving up,” concludes Ashwin, who portrayed the same picture with his life.

Key Management:
Ashwin Ajila, Founder & Managing Director
A multi-faceted professional, Ashwin has transformed his innovative ideas into successful business endeavors. A CA by qualification, he started his professional career with KPMG. His entrepreneurial drive led him to founding iNurture– a landmark initiative in higher education.

Qualification:
•Schooling from Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, Bangalore
•B.Com from St Joseph's College of Commerce, Bangalore
•CA from KPMG, Peat Marwick


Hobbies:Golf, Swimming, Yoga, Walking, Traveling with Family & Friends

Favorites:
Food:Biriyani
Destinations:Europe & South-East Asia

iNurture in Spotlight:
•India’s largest virtual university with over 9000 students enrolled under various programs
•A unique University-Industry Partnership (UIP) model
•Already established UIP with over 35 premium Universities across the country


Quick Facts:
Year of Establishment:
2009
Headquarter:
Bangalore
Programs:
Global Education, IT, Management, New Media & Financial Services