Shaw Academy agrees deal with Indian giant

Irish e-learning platform Shaw Academy has agreed a strategic partnership with one of India’s largest telecom providers.

The deal will see free access to Shaw Academy courses offered to Bharti Airtel’s 300 million prepaid and post-paid customers.

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It follows around 12 months of negotiations between the two parties with the Shaw Academy viewing further partnerships with telcos as a significant driver of future revenue.

Shaw Academy chief executive James Egan told the Sunday Independent that the Airtel deal was a “great endorsement” of the company.

“Traditionally large telecom organisations have always looked at content partners in the music and entertainment sector,” he said.

“We are been working on changing that mindset by showing that there is a massive demand out there for interactive education amongst their customers.”

To date the Dublin business, which exited examinership with a €7m investment last March, has had around five million users, although a large proportion of those have joined on free trials.

Paying students typically spend around €39 a month of the site. Egan said the Indian deal had the potential to “seriously rival” what the business had done to date.

“The expectation is that this partnership has the potential to deliver incredibly large volumes of new students even when compared to everything we have done up to now,” Egan (inset) said.

“We would also be aware of the level of support Airtel will put behind this partnership and the demand for high quality low cost education in India.”

The Shaw Academy founder also confirmed that the deal will mean new jobs at its office in India, as well as both Dublin and Cape Town.

Egan said that he was “preparing for this partnership for some time” and that the business was ready to go.

The company was expecting to add around 600,000 students this year but that number is now likely to be exceeded significantly.

Bharti Airtel’s chief marketing officer, Shashwat Sharma, said he was “delighted” to partner with the Shaw Academy.

“This alliance once again highlights the wide range of exclusive benefits we will bring out customers through our strong focus on building win-win partnerships,” he said.

In March, the Shaw Academy exited examinership through a €7m investment from a consortium including former Virgin Group chief executive Stephen Murphy, Setanta Sports co-founder Michael O’Rourke, Folens Publishing and Beach Point Capital.

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