Ronnie Screwvala is an Indian entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful and influential figures in the Indian media and entertainment industry. Over the course of his career, Screwvala has launched several successful businesses, including UTV Software Communications and upGrad. He is also a committed philanthropist, and has founded several non-profit organizations that work to improve the lives of marginalized communities in India.
Early Life and Career
Ronnie Screwvala was born on 8th September 1962 in Mumbai, India. He grew up in a middle-class family and attended the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai. After completing his schooling, Screwvala enrolled at Sydenham College to study commerce.
In 1981, at the age of 19, Screwvala launched his first business venture – a cable TV network called Network. The venture failed, but it taught him valuable lessons about entrepreneurship and the importance of perseverance. He learned from his mistakes and went on to launch several successful ventures over the course of his career.
In 1984, Screwvala launched UTV Software Communications, a production house that initially focused on producing TV content for the Indian market. Over the years, UTV expanded into film production, animation, and gaming. Under Screwvala’s leadership, UTV became one of India’s largest media and entertainment companies, producing hit films such as “Lagaan”, “Rang De Basanti”, and “Barfi!”.
In 2012, Screwvala sold UTV to The Walt Disney Company for $454 million. He stayed on as the managing director of UTV for two years before stepping down to pursue other interests.
In 2015, Screwvala co-founded upGrad, an edtech company that offers online courses and degrees in collaboration with top universities such as the Indian School of Business (ISB) and Deakin University. upGrad’s courses cover a wide range of subjects, including data science, management, marketing, software engineering, and law.
upGrad aims to bridge the skills gap in the Indian job market by providing high-quality education that is relevant to industry needs. The company’s courses are designed to be practical and job-oriented, with a focus on real-world applications. upGrad also provides career counseling and job placement services to its students.
In just a few years, upGrad has grown rapidly and become one of India’s leading edtech companies. In 2020, the company raised $120 million in funding from investors such as Temasek, IIFL, and JP Morgan. upGrad has also formed partnerships with companies such as Wipro and OYO to provide training and upskilling programs to their employees.
Screwvala is passionate about the potential of online education to transform the Indian job market. He believes that upGrad can play a key role in providing Indian workers with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly-changing economy. In an interview with Forbes India, he said, “We are the only country where 65% of our population is below the age of 35, and yet we have 70% of our graduates unemployable. That means we need to do something. And I think upGrad has a role to play in bridging that gap.”
Throughout his career, Ronnie Screwvala has been a strong advocate for philanthropy and social responsibility. In 2006, he founded the Swades Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to empower rural communities in India. The foundation focuses on four areas: water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, and rural livelihoods.
The Swades Foundation has implemented several innovative programs, such as the “Million Wells” initiative.