Emeritus Success Story Now A Harvard Business School Case Study

Opportunity India Desk
Opportunity India Desk Feb 15 2024 - 4 min read
Emeritus Success Story Now A Harvard Business School Case Study
The development spotlights the edtech unicorn’s roadmap to achieving high impact on society by providing access to world-class education.

The success story of edtech unicorn Emeritus, a global leader in delivering accessible and affordable high-quality education, has now become a case study by the prestigious Harvard Business School (HBS). The company said earlier this week that ‘Emeritus: Achieving Impact, Providing Access’, traces the first phase of the company’s founding journey by co-founders Ashwin Damera and Chaitanya Kalipatnapu, showcasing its innovative approach to education which has expanded opportunities to learners globally, and previews the road that lies ahead. 

The case study, which will serve as a guide for mission-driven entrepreneurs and professionals, and used in courses offered by Harvard, follows the journey of Damera, an HBS alumnus, and Kalipatnapu, an alumnus of INSEAD, who shared a dream of making societal impact by bringing access to high-quality education. Authored by HBS senior lecturer Ashish Nanda and research associate Zack Kurtovich, it intricately chronicles the origins of Emeritus’s transformative journey  from idea to achieving global scale, made possible by a team united by the mission, and through the strength of strategic partnerships with world class universities.

Emeritus, a pioneer in online executive education, led the way by offering Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs), cohort-based programs with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous elements, high-touch student support and live faculty interactions. On how the company’s offerings came to life, the case study states, “…participation in executive education programs was often not feasible for individuals from developing regions, as they typically were prohibitively expensive and required participants to travel to the university campuses. Both Damera and Kalipatnapu were eager to address the unmet need among emerging market professionals for quality executive education at affordable rates”.

The study further notes that as the company’s growth accelerated in collaboration with top universities around the world, Damera and Kalipatnapu’s “leadership in tandem was critical to maintaining a sense of momentum and a strong culture within the firm”. Setting the company distinctly apart from competitors, the case notes the success metrics for the Emeritus co-founders are not valuations or financial returns, but the impact on individuals, companies and society.

Announcing this milestone of being featured as a HBS case study, Ashwin Damera, Co-Founder and CEO, Emeritus, said, “Chaitanya and I embarked on this journey to break down barriers to high-quality education. It is humbling to see our endeavour recognised as a case study by Harvard, a world leading institution. This journey has been a whirlwind, and we hope that our approach to building Emeritus can offer some learnings to other entrepreneurs building mission-driven teams. We remain thankful to our team, university partners and professionals around the world for placing their trust in us. This is a great achievement as we continue to work towards driving positive change through education.” 

The case study also dives into the future plans of the company to continue to expand and revolutionize the executive education and upskilling segment. Emeritus is prepared to navigate new markets, expand its product offerings, and forge newer strategic partnerships. With a steadfast commitment to excellence, innovation, and impact, Emeritus remains committed to redefining the landscape of executive education.

Notably, Emeritus offers customised and open programs in India, Singapore, Dubai and other global locations in collaboration with IIM Lucknow Executive Education, IIM Calcutta Executive Education, ISB Executive Education, Harvard Business School (HBS), MIT Sloan, Columbia Business School, Kellogg Executive Education, Berkeley Executive Education, and Wharton Executive Education, amongst other leading Institutions. Our world-class executive education programs, facilitated by eminent program experts, provide an immersive learning experience integrated with actionable insights and practical business applications and are delivered in a range of formats; in-class, online, as well as blended programs. The Emeritus Group has more than 1,750 employees globally and offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Shanghai, Singapore, Palo Alto, Mexico City, New York, Boston, London, and Dubai. The company is backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Leeds Illuminate, Prosus Ventures, GSV Ventures, Peak XV, Bertelsmann, CPPIB, Accel and SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

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