ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024: Top Takeaways for Edupreneurs and Learners

ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024: Top Takeaways for Edupreneurs and Learners | Learning with Emeritus | Emeritus

With edupreneurs, innovators, investors, education partners, and every stakeholder in the edtech industry under one roof for three days, the takeaways from such a mega summit are bound to be one too many. And so it was for the ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 that concluded in Gurugram, India, recently. This year, the summit was centered around the theme, The Sun Rises in the East, celebrating Asia’s unique place in the world’s education ecosystem. 

For those of you who couldn’t attend, we’ve identified overarching themes that took shape during the summit, which we believe are indicative of what the industry is focused on and can shed some light on which direction edtech in India will go in the coming years. If you are a lifelong learner or professional interested in upskilling, you will find the first set of takeaways relevant. If you are working in the edtech space, the second section will be more relevant to you. 

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AI: The Elephant That is Not Leaving the Room 

At least not anytime soon, it seems. Michael Moe, Founder of GSV Ventures, aptly called generative AI a ‘gigatrend’ as it has dominated the innovation sphere in every industry for the last 18 months. The edtech industry is no exception to this rule. Philip Regier, University Dean for Educational Initiatives and CEO of EdPlus at Arizona State University, confirmed this when he said, “If you want me to pull out a crystal ball, I’d say the future belongs to anyone who figures how to leverage AI in education.”


AI, especially Generative AI (GenAI), was a recurring theme in many of the sessions at the ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024. Alexandra Argo and Claire Zau from GSV Ventures presented a detailed study on AI’s potential to transform education that focused on how AI will be a great skill leveler in the years to come and also delved into the business of AI detailing investing in this technology and equating it to the ‘new oil’. 

Professionals Pay Heed: ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 Takeaways

1. It’s a Brave New ‘Skills-Based’ World

ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 David Blake

“We are no longer going to organize the work ecosystem based on jobs but on skills,” said David Blake, Co-Founder and CEO at Degreed, in one of the most prophetic sessions at the ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024. He also added that organizations will now hire on the basis of skills rather than qualifications within the next nine to 18 months. In fact, a large number of companies have actually retired the requirement for applicants to state their degrees altogether. 

He backed his trend forecast with some numbers from McKinsey:

Skills-based hiring was more than 3.5% more effective than academic hiring and was also 2x more predictive than hiring based on work experience. 


He ended on a rather jubilant note that emphasized that a skill-focussed world is a ‘better world’, and hence, we don’t have any cause for worry if we inventory our skills in the best possible way. 

2. Welcome to a New Learning Destination: India

The idea of a powerful Indian education brand was discussed even last year at the summit. But at the ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024, this concept became an overarching idea of cross-geographical learning with a special focus on India. In the fireside chat with Emeritus India CEO Mohan Kannegal, Dr. Sekar Viswanathan, the Vice President of VIT, said that global universities coming to India was good for the general health of our education system as this would prompt all Indian universities to up their game. 

In a panel discussion moderated by Pooja Jayaram, Senior Vice President of University Partnerships at Emeritus, Michelle Wade, the Commissioner at the South Asia State Government of Victoria, Australia, also emphasized, “We look at India in terms of states. It’s too large to swallow as a whole, and we also look at states in terms of competition. India needs to step up because the competition is global.”

The story of Emeritus is an interesting case study in this context of moving across geographies as it is the only Indian edtech brand that began operation globally before India. This was mentioned by Prajal Kumar, CFO at Emeritus, during his panel discussion named Exporting Indian Education to the World. “Our founders believed that it is always easier to move down the value chain than move up the value chain. So we knew that if we could demonstrate that our business model works in the US, we could expand in India and APAC as well,” he explained. 

3. Disruptions are the New Normal

ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 Amitav Kant

Disruptions have always existed in the world. You are probably holding one in your hand right now: a mobile phone, something that didn’t exist 20 years ago, dictates every aspect of our life today. Disruptions sometimes kill existing and successful business models and bring forth new ones. And according to India’s G20 Sherpa, Amitav Kant, disruptions will be the new normal in India. 

“The rest of the world has created tech monopolies and digital empires. But in India, we have created an open digital economy on top of which entrepreneurs can build unicorns to disrupt at population scale,” he explained. The former CEO of the  NITI Aayog also said, “If India is to become a 35 trillion dollar economy by 2027, we constantly need to innovate, we constantly need to disrupt, we constantly need to find sunrise areas of growth.” Thus, disruptions are now part of the plan, and the workforce needs to constantly upskill to keep pace with these. 

Investors/ Eduprenuers Take Note: ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 Takeaways 

1. What’s Next in Edtech: Investments or Innovation?

ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 Pranjal Kumar

Edtech is not like e-commerce; it does not yield immediate results. In fact, it is often seen as a noble calling. But like any other business, edtech companies need to generate wealth in order to grow and sustain. We saw a definitive will from the industry to speak openly about funding, business models, and the possibility of going public at the ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024. 

The general consensus seems to be that the winter we are observing for investments in edtech in India is going to be short-lived and is not necessarily a bad thing. Ronnie Screwvala, one of the founders of Upgrad, his address said, “To disrupt, you need innovation, and for innovation, you need frugality!” So, edupreneurs have to strike the right balance of frugality and funding. 


Veteran edupreneur Rajendra Pawar, who co-founded NIIT, supported this view in his chat with Emeritus co-founder Chaitanya Kalipatnapu and also provided some context. Against the backdrop of COVID-19 causing an acceleration in online learning followed by lots of ‘irrational exuberance’, he referred to the drought in investments in edtech as the “classic boom-bust story’. However, he believed that the drop in investments was only drastic when compared to the COVID era when there was “too much money chasing too few ideas”. 

While the iconic founder ended his session with the hope that “this too shall pass”, Pranjal Kumar emphasized that real growth was possible in the edtech sector with some perseverance and financial discipline. He said, “We can build an Amazon for education. And that time is now.”

2. Liquidity and Consolidation in the Edtech Ecosystem

There has been much talk of IPOs in the edtech world in the last two quarters. Conversations have ranged from why some of the companies are not going public to whether IPOs are a way to pack your cards and exit the table. Ronnie Screwvala, in his classic style, clarified that IPOs were a liquidity event and not an exit strategy. “Succession planning and hiring the right CEOs is an exit strategy,” he added. 

In another session that was dedicated to discussing why edtech companies should go public and when, Pranjal Kumar explained, “Going public is a very deliberate milestone. We set a high bar for corporate governance (at Emeritus). The idea to go public was triggered for us when we became comfortable. Then we have to think about how to wire our company, have all the compliances in place, and get the books in order.” This, according to him, was the only way to be accountable to every single stakeholder.

Just like liquidity, consolidation has also been a much-deliberated subject in the industry. It is no secret that the edtech industry went through a phase of hyper consolidation in 2022. This was a time for diversification when companies were acquiring other companies for skill sets, presence in new geographies, and also for foraying into new lines of business to keep up the exponential growth. But now, consolidation is the new theme. “The rules of the game have changed, and the valuation metrics have now become reasonable and corrected,” concluded Pranjal Kumar, while confirming that edtech was still a buyer’s market!

3. The Online Versus Offline Debate in Learning

ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 Chaitanya Kalipatnapu

There was a panel dedicated to the subject of education as a concept going offline again. Interestingly, the panel comprised five entrepreneurs who were in the education business, and three of them were pioneers of online education! What came out of the discussion was a vivid melange of ideas that can help both offline and online edtech players grow. 

Anshuman Singh, who was the co-founder of Scaler, pointed out that attendance and engagement in an offline setup are much higher. “The attribution of their (learners) success to the organization is also higher,” he said. Mayank Kumar, the Co-founder of Upgrad, added, “Discipline is a problem that offline setups have solved much better. It is something that online education needs to solve.”

Pratham Mittal, the founder of Master’s Union, who considered offline education his strength, also pointed out that our classrooms were still boring and offline education, though a mature business, had not evolved as a medium. Imran Rashid, the CBO of Physics Wala, expressed his belief that a focus on learners was the best way to move forward, irrespective of the medium. 

ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024: Other Highlights

Not everything that was discussed at the summit came under the purview of trends or takeaways, but they were important nonetheless due to their subject. Two such sessions stayed with us during the summit, and they were:

The Glass Ceiling: Does It Still Need Breaking?

Just like last year, ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 had a woman-centric panel discussion on the schedule. And, just like the previous year, it was a power-packed 30 minutes of women leaders and entrepreneurs sharing their stories and weaving their own narratives. This panel discussion, moderated by Anjali Raina, Executive Director of the Harvard Business School, explored the existence of the glass ceiling from denial to acceptance and transcendence. 

Are India and the US the New BFFs in the World of Education? 

ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024_Eric Garcetti

“Our relationship status on Facebook was ‘it’s complicated’ for a long time, but we are definitely dating now,” said US Ambassador Eric Garcetti while describing the relationship between India and the US. In a heartfelt fireside chat with Dr. Chris Howard, Vice President and CEO of ASU, the Ambassador expressed hope for new solidarity and collaboration between the people of the United States and India, especially when it came to education and sharing workforce and skills. 

Glimpses From the Summit

Ashwin Damera_Chaitanya Kalipatnapu

In 2024, the edtech industry stands perched on the cusp of transformation. The way ahead for the industry will be determined by many variables by bringing together many moving parts. The ASU+GSV and Emeritus Summit 2024 was a great space for the industry to come together and forge this new path ahead. The summit captured the pulse of the industry, so keep reading the Emeritus blog for more stories about the summit. 

If you are a professional who is looking to upskill, explore courses from the best universities around the world on Emeritus. 

About the Author

Managing Editor, Emeritus Blog
Anwesha is our in-house expert on careers, trends impacting the workforce, and what makes content tick. As a journalist and content creator for 10+ years, Anwesha leaves a bit of herself in every story. Her superpower is to take the bare bones and turn it into a winning narrative for brands. Her passion to tell stories of human triumph led her to Emeritus where she continues to weave engaging tales. Anwesha is also a doting dog mom and hopes to make her boisterous canine a pawfluencer.
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