September 13, 2013

Since launching in April, Eduson has attracted tens of thousands of registered users and is adding more every day. As of June, 80 percent of them were from Brazil and India. “Distance learning is a primary solution for those in BRIC nations who need to be prepared for quickly growing economies,” says Eduson’s chief executive, Elena Masolova.


Masolova, who has degrees in economics and political science, became a believer in distance education after taking an online course with Stanford University while studying in Moscow. Startups like Eduson are old hat for her: She has been a founder or investor in more than 20 Internet startups and was a co-founder of Darberry, a coupon site that was sold to Groupon in 2010.


Her company has a slightly different business plan than others in the crowded market for massive open online courses, or MOOCs. While such providers as EdX and Coursera feature courses taught by top professors from elite universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, many Eduson classes are taught by practitioners from the worlds of finance and entrepreneurship.


Instructors are a big draw, says Masolova, 28. In the most popular course, Natasha Zagvozdina, a former managing director at Renaissance Capital, builds a financial model, line by line, using an Excel spreadsheet. Serial entrepreneur Peter Kutis teaches a course on taking a business from startup to $400 million in gross sales in 18 months. Dominic Houlder, a manager at Boston Consulting Group before becoming an adjunct professor at LBS, offers instruction on Strategy for Stormy Times. And Arie Kravtchin, head of equity capital markets in Russia for Bank of America Merrill Lynch unit, will soon be teaching Roadmap to Successful IPO.


Masolova says the company is in talks with several companies interested in buying licenses for employees, but a deal hasn’t been struck yet. While Eduson is earning money, Masolova says the goal is to become operationally profitable by year’s end.


Read the full story at Bloomberg Businessweek.

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