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An e-learning platform that serves dual purpose at its best, here’s how Udemy came into existence



One of the major breakthroughs in the education sector is its disruption by technology. While the curriculum across schools and colleges has evolved over the years, it is technology that has brought a drastic change – enabling students to study at their own pace and learn remotely. It has opened doors to new-age possibilities and Udemy, the online American learning platform, is a testament to this fact.

Udemy – The origin

For Eren Bali, growing up in a small Turkish village, the educational opportunities were limited. However, it wasn’t until his family got him his first computer from where he learnt chess and mathematics to finally win a silver medal in the International Math Olympiad, did he truly realise the potential of online learning. That was when he took it upon himself to bring online learning to others as well. In 2010, he, along with co-founders Oktay Caglar and Gagan Biyani, launched Udemy.

Though there are thousands of other e-learning platforms in today’s time and moreover, most courses available in Udemy are for the working professionals, nevertheless, what makes it stand out from the rest is its openness to the public. Udemy welcomes academic experts and instructors who wish to make their own courses and sell them on the platform.

The story of Udemy’s first 100 courses

Gagan Biyani said that the hardest part of launching Udemy had been the fact that there was no content on the platform when they started. With the format of online course relatively new back in 2010, even famous public speakers, book authors and professors they approached, refrained from creating courses. Therefore, they devised a new plan of legally obtaining OpenCourseWare (course lessons created by universities and published for free via internet) and posting them on Udemy and that is how they generated their first 100 courses.

How did Udemy scale up from there?

However, even though they had earned about 10,000 users, it stagnated at one point in time. Realising that, the next step they took was creating their own course. The founders convinced their investors to speak in a series of events called “Raising Capital for Startups” where over 70 entrepreneurs were present and by placing a camera in the back of the room to record the event, they created their first ‘active’ course.

After manually creating some courses, they went to academic experts and teachers in programming, technology and entrepreneurship to convince them to teach courses. With the proof of Udemy’s increased user base through online courses, they could easily rope in a number of instructors in a short span of time. After over a year, Udemy’s top ten instructors were able to make around $1.6 million in course sales which led to a surge in the number of instructors and ultimately, an increased number of courses.

Udemy – terminology explained

The underlying principle of Udemy model is that learning and teaching is up to you – courses are tailored to your needs. Therefore, the name Udemy, an amalgamation of You + Academy, is an extension of this idea.



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