Edtech Unicorn Eruditus Co-founder Ashwin Damera’s Family office invests in InnoVen

Ashwin Damera Founder of Eridutus and Emeritus

Edtech Unicorn Eruditus Co-founder Ashwin Damera invests $32 Mn in Venture Debt firm Innoven Capital through his family office, which he and his wife Bhagyashree Damera co-manage.

Following its $650 million Series E funding in August 2021, Ashwin co-founded Eruditus and Emeritus (online branch), a global edtech startup valued at $3.2 billion. SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Prosus, Accel, Sequoia, Bertelsmann, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are among the notable investors.

The edtech startup secured a $350 million debt financing deal from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) in March 2022 to expand its acquisition plans in international markets.

The CPPIB investment represents a new and growing trend among some of India’s largest startups that have chosen various types of debt financing routes for expansion.

Chaitanya Kalipatnapu and Ashwin Damera founded Eruditus in 2010. It collaborates with global business schools such as MIT, Columbia, Harvard Business School, INSEAD, Tuck at Dartmouth, Wharton, UC Berkeley, and London Business School to provide executive education programs.

These programs last six to eight months and are available on-campus, off-campus, and online. Courses are also available from Indian institutions such as IIT Kozhikode, IIM Lucknow, and BML Munjal University.

Eruditus is also supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a non-profit led by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

Ashwin Damera, Co-founder of Eruditus, said, “This investment is from my family office and will give us exposure to venture debt, which is a unique asset class. I have known InnoVen for many years and have a strong appreciation for the strong franchise/portfolio it has built. As an entrepreneur, this investment also aligns with my goal of investing back into the venture ecosystem as the capital will eventually support many promising startups as they scale up.”

According to Ashish Sharma, managing partner of the InnoVen Capital India Fund, the India fund was launched last year and has built a strong portfolio of 25 companies, including seven unicorns.

“While we are raising capital from several investors, it’s always special to have successful founders invest with us, as they bring value beyond capital. The ecosystem has seen several founders generate some liquidity and many have allocated capital to venture debt, as part of their asset allocation,” said Mr Sharma.

InnoVen Capital is a debt capital provider for high-growth venture-backed startups. It was founded in 2008 with a aim to provide a wide range of debt capital solutions, including venture debt, acquisition finance, growth loans, and working capital, among others.

InnoVen Capital has worked with over 200 startups, including BYJU’S, Swiggy, Eruditus, DailyHunt, Oyo Rooms, PharmEasy, boAt, Moglix, CureFit, Dealshare, Cars24, Udaan, Shiprocket, Firstcry, Mensa Brands, Licious, Spinny, Blackbuck, Zetwerk, Ofbusiness, Snapdeal, Rebel Foods.

In the first quarter of FY2021, InnoVen Capital was the most active (later stage) venture capitalist. It topped the list with 12 transactions. The company made a significant investment in BharatPe’s $108 million Series D round, which valued the company at $900 million.

Meanwhile, Ashwin Damera is a seasoned entrepreneur who co-founded Travelguru, which was acquired by Travelocity in 2009. He is an angel investor and advisor to many startups and entrepreneurs, and he holds an MBA from Harvard Business School as well as a Chartered Accountant qualification.

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