Ronnie Screwvala Success Story: Journey from UTV to upGrad

Ronnie Screwvala Success Story: Journey from UTV to upGrad
Ronnie Screwvala

One of the most important business sectors in the circuit is movies. With movies, one could earn millions. However, this is a very difficult line to proceed as a businessman. Well, Ronnie Screwvala is one of the biggest personalities in the Bollywood circuit. He is the founder and CEO of the famous UTV Group. His companies include UTV Software, Bloomberg UTV, UTV Motion Pictures, and many more to name. Read this article to learn about the story of Ronnie Screwvala.

Rohinton Soli Screwvala Quick Facts

Name Rohinton Soli Screwvala
Born 8 September 1962 - Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Education Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics
Citizenship Indian
Title Founder of UTV Group (Now Walt Disney India), Founder Trustee of Swades Foundation, Founder of Unilazer Ventures, Board of Advisor AIESEC India, Founder of RSVP Movies, Co-Founder of UpGrad
Net worth $1.53 Billion (₹12,800 Crores)
Wife Zarina Mehta

Ronnie Screwvala - Personal Life and Background
Ronnie Screwvala - Initial Days
Ronnie Screwvala - UTV Group
Ronnie Screwvala - Change of Events That Transformed UTV Into a Mega-Brand
Ronnie Screwvala - Life as an Entrepreneur
Ronnie Screwvala - Philanthropy
Ronnie Screwvala - Shark Tank India
Ronnie Screwvala - As an inspiration

Ronnie Screwvala- Personal Life and Background

Ronnie Screwvala
Ronnie Screwvala

Ronnie is Parsi by blood. He had completed his studies at Cathedral and John Connon School. His father was an employee of British firms J L Morrison and Smith. He is married to Zarina Mehta. Ronnie met her during his initial days at the theatre with Pearl Padamsee.

From childhood, he had a keen interest in theatre and has been a part of the acting crew in a few professional plays with Bombay theatre. He has worked with some big names like Pearl and Alyque Padamsee. He has produced over 70 films, and some of his famous works include Rang De Basanti, The Namesake, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Jodhaa Akbar, and many more iconic movies.

Ronnie Screwvala - Initial Days

His actual entrepreneurial journey started way before UTV came into the circuit. During his initial days, his father wanted him to become a Chartered Accountant. But, he was sure that business was the field that attracted him. Hence, to achieve that, he was looking for business opportunities. Later on, while he was on a trip to England, he got a chance to visit a hairbrush factory. He came across two discarded fully functional automatic toothbrush-making machines. Hence, to open up the doors of business, he purchased it. As soon as he returned to India, he started a business. The business was concerned with making toothbrushes. Many years later, the business became one of the largest producers of toothbrushes and was supplying goods to mega-brands like Colgate.

Apart from the toothbrush business, he had started his own cable network company by the name of Network. During those days, he used to go door to door and ask the residents to sign up for the network. This was a good business idea because, at the time when Doordarshan was the only channel available, this network provided a three-hour video channel providing movies. Initially, this business started with just 30 houses. Later on, it expanded to popular places like Cuffe Parade, Colaba, NApeansea Road, Breach Candy, and Hanging Gardens within a short period.

Ronnie’s idea was way ahead of the time. Well, it is very surprising to see that at a young age, Ronnie understood the importance of good service. He made sure that his services were for the betterment of the entertainment sector as he provided his customers with family-oriented content with good picture quality.

Ronnie Screwvala - UTV Group

Ronnie and Zarina founded the UTV Group, now a country's household name. This company was founded in 1990 to provide television content to broadcasters. Also, this company was the first independent producer in India, and the company started working by taking up advertisements and movies. Later on, the company started producing quiz shows. One of the company's biggest hits was the Mashoor Mahal.

Within two decades, UTV expanded into broadcasting, gaming, film, and various other businesses. For the company, the biggest leap to success came during the time of incorporation. The team was engaged in the production of television content for Doordarshan. During this time, Subhash Chandra, who owned Zee TV, had just started to take small steps in the television circuit. Hence, they offered UTV a 550-episode contract. This was the golden opportunity for the team to shine on the big stage.


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Ronnie Screwvala - Change of Events That Transformed UTV Into a Mega-Brand

The Success Story of Ronnie Screwvala's UTV 

The very first thing that changed the fortunes of the company was the introduction of flight entertainment by Air India. They hired UTV to provide flight entertainment for their customers. In 1993, the team started to accept programs from external customers and began marketing airtime on their programs. Apart from that, it launched a daily soap named Shanti. The team acquired a 54.60% stake in Lazer Production. Later on, in the same year, the company ventured into the movie distribution business.

In 1996, UTV and Disney got into a contract. This was about dubbing the content for Disney movies for Indian fans. Also, in the same year, UTV started offering services to international airlines for its in-flight entertainment division. The subsidiary of the company USLl acquired Ram Mohan Biographies. The brand was renamed to UTV Tools.

UTV also took a diverse turn in broadcasting by acquiring a controlling interest in Vijay Television Limited. This company operated as Vijay TV. With over 86% stake, UTV incorporated a group named UTV Net Solutions Ltd. IT was focused on Internet content creation via Indian regional language portals. In 200, the company started broadband content collection under the name sharkstram.com.

Hungama Channel, a household name in the country, is a product of UTV entertainment. This channel became the leading children’s television channel within a few years of its release. The company's success can be measured by the fact that it got itself listed on the Bombay and National Stock Exchange.

With a deal of $10 Million with US-based BKN New Media, UTV opened up the door for itself as a mega brand. UTV toons expanded to 200 employees and purchased additional Autodesk’s 3D Max 8 software.

Ronnie Screwvala - Life as an Entrepreneur

Ronnie Screwvala - Life as an Entrepreneur
Ronnie Screwvala - Life as an Entrepreneur

Unilazer Ventures

Screwvala is actively engaged as a venture capitalist/private equity investor through his brand and arm, Unilazer. His investment approach involves making early-stage investments in Indian new economy companies and startups, acquiring significant minority stakes, and leveraging his entrepreneurial experience to support founders. Unilazer's diverse investment portfolio spans sectors such as e-commerce, leading online eyewear companies, AI and Bots, agriculture, and micro-housing finance.

RSVP Movies

RSVP Movies marks Screwvala's comeback to the media and entertainment sector but with a renewed focus. At RSVP, the emphasis is on working with fresh storytellers to create bold, inventive narratives across films and digital media. Additionally, RSVP is adopting innovative distribution strategies to take its disruptive content to wider audiences globally across theaters and OTT platforms.

U Sports

Screwvala is a co-founder of U Sports, a venture with a strategic emphasis on three distinct sports. Notably, Kabaddi is a widely popular sport in India and across Asia, where his team, U Mumba, stands out as a top contender in the 12-team ProKabaddi League. U Sports also delves into the realms of E-Sports and Football. In the domain of football, the brand U Dreams is dedicated to nurturing and managing talent across various age groups for extended periods.

upGrad

Screwvala co-founded upGrad, a leading online education company in India specializing in higher education. With a strong focus on areas like Digital Marketing, Data Analytics, and Product Management, upGrad has become a major player. The company has valuable partnerships with colleges, including IIT Madras, IIIT-B, BITS Pilani, MICA, and Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education.

The Swades Foundation

Screwvala, alongside his wife Zarina, dedicates a quarter of his time to the Swades Foundation, with a shared commitment to empower a million people out of poverty. Swades operates in a 3000 sq km area in Raigad, Maharashtra, focusing on Water, Sanitation, Health, and Education, and primarily on creating livelihood opportunities for half a million people in 2000 villages.


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Ronnie Screwvala - Philanthropy

During the early days of UTV, Ronnie formed a society named SHARE (Now The Swades Foundation). This stood for Society to Heal, Aid, Restore, Educate. The objective was to develop rural Maharashtra. Presently, Ronnie has donated a whopping INR 2350 crores to the foundation. By establishing The Swades Foundation, he has taken a bold initiative to empower a million people and help them break free from the shackles of poverty. With his unwavering commitment to this shared cause, he is making a significant impact on the lives of those who need it the most.

Ronnie Screwvala - Shark Tank India

Ronnie Screwvala - Shark Tank India Season 3
Ronnie Screwvala - Shark Tank India Season 3

Accomplished media entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala has joined the popular start-up reality show Shark Tank India as a new Shark for its upcoming third season. Known for founding UTV Group and currently heading content studio RSVP Movies, Screwvala brings over 30 years of experience across television, films, and digital platforms. His addition to the panel, comprised of Anupam Mittal, Aman Gupta, Namita Thapar, and others, will provide a more diverse perspective and industry expertise to evaluate budding ventures this season. With his sharp insights into B2C and B2B, everyone eagerly anticipates his funding choices and operational guidance this season.


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Ronnie Screwvala - As an inspiration

With a clear vision to change the entertainment sector, Ronnie has worked for the betterment of the circuit. His company, UTV, has changed the way we watch and enjoy movies. Apart from the fact that he is a successful entrepreneur, his work for charity makes him an inspiration for many entrepreneurs!

FAQs

Who is the owner of UTV India?

While publicly traded for a time, UTV India is now ultimately owned by The Walt Disney Company, which acquired a controlling stake in 2012. Disney gained full ownership 2013 and integrated UTV's operations into their Indian media network.

How much was UTV sold for?

UTV was sold to Walt Disney for ₹2,000 crore ($454 million).

Who is the owner of upGrad?

upGrad is co-founded by Ronnie Screwvala, Phalgun Kompalli, and Mayank Kumar.

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