Eren Bali 101: How He Changed the Online Education Industry
Zatrun Published at March 01, 2023

Eren Bali is an engineer and technology entrepreneur who currently serves as the CEO of Carbon Health, a healthcare startup that facilitates communication between doctors and patients. He is also the co-founder of Udemy, an online education platform for adults and students. In this guide by, you can find everything you need to know about Eren Bali.

Who is Eren Bali?

Bali was born in a small town in Malatya, Turkey in 1984. He completed his primary and secondary education in a school with a single classroom under challenging conditions, where his parents were the teachers. Despite his talent in mathematics and science as a child, he had limited resources to develop his skills.

In high school, Eren Bali won a silver medal in the International Mathematics Olympiad, which led to offers of scholarships from two successful schools in the United States. However, he declined both offers because he did not want to leave Turkey at the time. He chose to study computer engineering and mathematics at Middle East Technical University in Ankara and graduated in 2005.

Bali’s first ventures date back to his student years at Middle East Technical University. While studying computer engineering in Ankara, he met his middle school friend and future business partner, Oktay Caglar. The two designed their first project together during this period, a program called “MP3 Server,” which allowed students to listen to music by connecting to a server. Although the program became popular, the network of Middle East Technical University was not sufficient for this system.

Later, Eren Bali and Caglar started another entrepreneurial project called “,” an internet site that aimed to present three-dimensional models of buildings that were in the project phase, but the project failed. In 2008, Bali launched a live streaming-based learning platform called “KnowBand,” but this venture failed either. Shortly after, he started working as an engineer at SpeedDate, an online dating company based in Silicon Valley.

Bali and Udemy

Eren Bali developed software for a live virtual classroom in Turkey in 2007, which he aimed to make available to everyone for free. However, Udemy, which Bali co-founded in 2010 with his partners Oktay Caglar and Gagan Biyani, did not launch until he moved to Silicon Valley in 2010.

In early 2010, Bali and his partners founded Udemy, but the team was rejected by 57 potential investors before they found Dave McClure, the 58th candidate, who believed in the future of Udemy and agreed to invest $1 million.

Within a few months, 1.000 instructors created approximately 2,000 different courses, and Udemy’s registered user count grew to nearly 10,000. This growth attracted an impressive team, including co-founder and CEO Eren Bali, who helped the company become the leading online education platform it is today.

In October 2011, Groupon, managed by Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, as well as 500 Startups and MHS Capital, raised an additional $3 million in the A Series fund. About a year later, the company raised another $12 million in the B Bank fund led by Insight Venture Partners, bringing Udemy’s total funding to $16 million.

Between 2010 and 2014, the company continued to grow. Udemy reached a total of 4 million students and 15,000 instructors. In 2014, Bali stepped down as CEO and took on the role of president. That same year, he was also featured on Forbes’ prestigious “30 Under 30” list of young entrepreneurs.

Carbon Health

Following Udemy’s success, Eren Bali became interested in the healthcare sector when his mother experienced a health issue. While tending to his mother’s treatment, Bali also tried to support healthcare startups.

In 2015, Bali and Tom Berry launched their second company, Carbon Health, with Pablo Stanley and Dr. Greg Burell also on the founding team. Three years later, Carbon Health merged with Direct Urgent Care, and Caesar Djavaherian, the owner of Direct Urgent Care, was added to the list of co-founders.

Carbon Health, which digitises traditional healthcare services, quickly increased its value to over $3 billion with the investments it received. In fact, in 2021, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became the second fastest-growing private company in the United States.

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