edX CEO Anant Agarwal on Face-to-Face: Just Do It, Never Give Up, Network and Lessons From His Chicken Farm

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CAMBRIDGE, MA—The man who heads edX, with 25 million students and learners in every country of the world and who has been a serial entrepreneur and a professor at MIT for 30 years, advises three things to today’s budding entrepreneurs: Just do it, never give up and network and ask for help.

edX CEO Anant Agarwal’s entrepreneurial journey started at an early age of 13 in Mangalore when he decided to build a chicken farm. He had 40 chickens and would get up at 4:00 AM to collect eggs. He sold the eggs by making a deal with local restaurant.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, TiE Boston will honor Mr. Agarwal with Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual gala at Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

Prior to the award, Mr. Agarwal sat down for a Face-to-Face interview with INDIA New England News where he talks about the future of education, entrepreneurship, venture capital and his advice to entrepreneurs.

For watch the full interview, please click here or on the image below.

Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is home to more than 20 million learners, the majority of top-ranked universities in the world and industry-leading companies. As a global nonprofit, edX is transforming traditional education, removing the barriers of cost, location and access.

Fulfilling the demand for people to learn on their own terms, edX is reimagining the possibilities of education, providing the highest-quality, stackable learning experiences, including the groundbreaking MicroMasters® programs. Supporting learners at every stage, whether entering the job market, changing fields, seeking a promotion or exploring new interests, edX delivers courses for curious minds on topics ranging from data and computer science to leadership and communications.

The extraordinary career of Mr. Agarwal, who founded edX and serves as its CEO, started with an electrical engineering degree from IIT Chennai, followed by computer science at Stanford, then MIT and now edX. He taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics from MIT, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries.

Mr. Agarwal has served as the director of CSAIL, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. He is a successful serial entrepreneur, having co-founded several companies including Tilera Corporation, which created the Tile multicore processor, and Virtual Machine Works.

He won the Maurice Wilkes prize for computer architecture, and MIT’s Smullin and Jamieson prizes for teaching.  He is also the 2016 recipient of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize for Higher Education, which recognized his work in advancing the MOOC movement.

Additionally, he is a recipient of the Padma Shri award from the President of India and was named the Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureate in 2018. He holds a Guinness World Record for the largest microphone array, and is an author of the textbook “Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits.”

Scientific American selected his work on organic computing as one of 10 World- Changing Ideas in 2011, and he was named in Forbes’ list of top 15 education innovators in 2012. Anant, a pioneer in computer architecture, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the ACM.

He hacks on WebSim, an online circuits laboratory, in his spare time, according to his official bio. He holds a Ph.D. from Stanford and a bachelor’s from IIT Madras. Anant’s twitter handle is @agarwaledu.

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