'MBA in a day' course helped instructor make over $1 million in passive income on Udemy

"I realized that I felt alive and this was my purpose."

Chris Haroun.
Courtesy Chris Haroun

Chris Haroun was getting tired of the financial sector when he started teaching business and MBA courses at local colleges. He'd been working in hedge funds and venture capital for years, and he just didn't feel fulfilled. But with teaching, "I realized that I felt alive," he says. "This was my purpose."

One Saturday in January 2016, Haroun taught a group of 9-to-17-year-olds an "MBA in a day" course through the LEMO Foundation, which serves under-resourced student athletes, and immediately saw how focused and engaged they were. "Even the 9-year-old was watching with his mouth open the whole day," Haroun says. He realized the class had potential and decided to upload it onto online courses platform Udemy.

Today, the eight-hour course, which has a typical list price of $199, has been downloaded more than 370,000 times, providing a steady stream of passive income. Over the years, Haroun has added dozens of other courses, covering subjects as varied as personal finance to the how-tos of making a career creating content on the internet. All told, he's made millions of dollars on the platform.

Here's how he was able to build his explosive Udemy-based business.

How he made his 'MBA in 1 Course' successful

When you figure out what's missing and fill in those knowledge gaps based on what's within your expertise, "everybody wins," Haroun says.

He credits the success of his "Entire MBA in 1 Course" in part to its "gap analysis" approach. That is, he thought about "what MBA schools don't teach us, or undergrad schools don't teach us."

The course takes students through the lifecycle of a company, from inception to IPO to eventual decline. These practical, on-the-ground lessons aren't being taught in schools but are critical for anyone curious about business, he says.

Chris Haroun in his "classroom."
Courtesy Chris Haroun

'I failed a lot': How to learn from mistakes

Haroun also attributes his success to his willingness to try new things even if there was a chance they wouldn't hit. "I failed a lot," he says. "I published a bunch of courses that haven't done that well." In fact, he's taken down about 15 courses because they weren't working.

But his willingness to try a variety of different course types, even ones beyond the realm of business, brought him to his current 35-course lineup.

"I always tell teachers that want to teach business on Udemy, 'Just go to my courses, go to the reviews, read the one-star reviews ― of which there are many ― and make better versions of these courses.'"

Go to my courses, go to the reviews, read the one-star reviews ― of which there are many ― and make better versions of these courses.
Chris Haroun
Udemy instructor

'I found my passion'

Probably the biggest key to Haroun's success is that he loves his job. Growing up, he was sure that working in finance was his dream. But going from job to job within the sector, he quickly found that it didn't make him happy.

When he started giving courses and built his hustle on Udemy, "I found my passion: teaching."

"I don't feel depressed anymore. I feel happy," he says. That enthusiasm keeps him going, keeps his courses fun and entertaining, and helps captivate that worldwide audience.

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