Today's Entrepreneur: Gagan Biyani

Sylvie Leotin · May 4, 2011 · Short URL:

No.1 mistake: overlooking timing

Vator is the home to entrepreneurs who embrace their passion and follow their dreams.

We are a diverse community of dreamers, builders, and trailblazers, who want to change the world, build great products, and better the lives of others.

Today's Entrepreneur showcases the diversity of entrepreneurs on Vator, and gives our entrepreneurs an opportunity to share their journey with the community-at-large.

Our entrepreneur today is Gagan Biyani, co-founder and President of Udemy, a website that enables anyone to create an online course and teach over the internet.

Gagan was born and raised in the Bay area. He attended college in Berkeley, and moved to Washington DC to take a job with Accenture. A year later he met his (now) co-founder, Eren Bali, was so enthused by his idea, that he decided to moved back to San Francisco to start Udemy.

Back in San Francisco, he spent a lot of time attending events, and building a network, soaking up the Silicon Valley scene, and meeting many people over coffee. For those who have met him, his enthusiasm and passion are contagious. Udemy won the Vator Splash completion in May last year, and soon after closed a seed round from top angel investors, including Dave McClure, one of the VC/judges at the May Splash event.

I am an:


Name companies you've founded or co-founded:


If you are an entrepreneur, why?

I want to change the world.

List your favorite startups:

Micromobs, Quora, Airbnb, Hipmunk

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

Frustrating: Realizing you can't do everything. 
Rewarding: Accomplishing something nobody thought possible.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

Timing is everything. The best entrepreneurs have mastered the art of timing; they don't force things when the market isn't ready and are guns-a-blazin' when the market is. Most entrepreneurs have great ideas, but few of them get the timing right.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

1. Get out of your own way. 
2. Opportunity is everywhere. 
3. Nothing is impossible.


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Sylvie Leotin

Sylvie Leotin is an entrepreneur, advisor, writer and polymath, with a unique approach to bridging the worlds of business, technology, arts and culture.

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Udemy is a website that enables anyone to teach and learn online. Udemy tries to democratize online education by making it fast, easy and free to create online courses. Udemy is an open platform, so anyone can build an online course by posting videos, presentations, writing blog posts, or hosting live virtual classroom sessions.

Udemy tries to solve a simple problem: there are millions of smart people in the world (authors, speakers, coaches, trainers, subject matter experts and teachers) who want to teach over the internet. Currently, it costs $10,000 to create a website to teach, and there are thousands of instructors doing this (we've talked to them; they hate it). We provide instructors with the ability to create their own course without any up-front costs. That way, they no longer have to deal with the technology and can focus entirely on teaching.

Udemy Live is Udemy’s live virtual conferencing and classroom tool. It is entirely web-based and built on component architecture. Each component was built separately, and there is an internal API so third party developers can build components on top of Udemy’s virtual conferencing tool. The API is not currently public.

Udemy was founded by MobileCrunch writer Gagan Biyani, Eren Bali and Oktay Caglar. Eren and Oktay worked at, an online dating site that has received over $8M in funding from Menlo Ventures.

Udemy will start by focusing on a specific niche: Poker education. We will roll out Udemy to enter the $100M business of online poker education. Udemy has deals with more than 15 extremely popular poker instructors to teach on Udemy Poker over the internet. After that niche, Udemy will begin to enter additional markets in which there is a willingness to pay by consumers and a clear set of high-quality instructors interested in teaching.


Dave McClure

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Gagan Biyani

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