Dhamera was raised in Chennai and obtained his chartered accountant certification in 1999.
Meet Ashwin Damera, the visionary founder and CEO of Eruditis and Emeritus. Through these companies, he democratizes global education by partnering with renowned schools and delivering it online to those who can’t afford to study abroad. Recently, Ashwin made headlines by investing Rs 240 crore in InnoVen Capital. With a combined valuation of an astounding $3.2 billion (equivalent to Rs 26,488 crore), his companies have revolutionized access to education. Ashwin’s journey of building these enterprises is a fascinating tale worth exploring.
Growing up in Chennai, Dhamera pursued his passion for numbers and became a chartered accountant in 1999, achieving an impressive all-India rank of 44 in the CA finals. After gaining work experience, he ventured to Harvard Business School before settling in Mumbai for a job at Citigroup. At that time, the idea of becoming an entrepreneur had never crossed his mind; his aspiration was to excel as a corporate executive.
During his time at Harvard, Dhamera’s entrepreneurial journey took an unexpected turn. Participating in a business plan contest, he secured the runner-up position, filling him with immense joy. What followed was even more remarkable. Two classmates, thoroughly impressed by his business plan, offered him a check of $200,000 to kickstart his venture. Despite having a job offer in hand, Dhamera took a leap of faith, accepting the money, and founded Travelguru, a hotel booking company. Although it was intended to be sold to Expedia for $19 million in 2008, the recession thwarted the deal. Nonetheless, Forbes reported its eventual sale to another company for $12 million. Dhamera humbly refers to himself as an accidental entrepreneur.
In 2010, Dhamera and his co-founder Chaitanya Kalipatnapu established a company that provided certificate programs from global institutions. Their breakthrough came in 2015 when they transitioned to online courses, particularly focusing on Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs). They forged partnerships with esteemed universities including Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford, and INSEAD. Remarkably, INSEAD, where Dhamera’s co-founder had prior experience, became their pioneering partner. Their shift to online learning gained significant traction, propelling their company to new heights.
During the initial six years, Dhamera’s company operated on a bootstrap model, focusing on serving one university at a time rather than raising funds. Dhamera handled operations while his co-founder handled marketing. However, as the business grew, Dhamera recognized the need for technological investment. Consequently, he embarked on a fundraising journey to secure the necessary resources for enhancing the company’s technology infrastructure.