Education Feb, 15 2010

Schooled for success

By Abha Garyali
Schooled for success

With the determination to offer the best educational experience to young students, EuroKids  has successfully pioneered the unique pre-school concept. In an interview, Prajodh Rajan, VP and Project Head, EuroKids International Ltd shares the success of his company.

Abha Garyali (AG): Please shed some light on the origin, growth and success of ‘EuroKids’.

Prajodh Rajan (PR): EuroKids International Ltd. first started with its publication business in India by bringing the world's best names like Disney, Mattel, Enid Blyton, Noddy, Tin Tin and Agatha Christie to the Indian readers. The company had abundant access to pre-school learning content and wanted to use its expertise in bringing good quality content to Indian children. This set off a process which led to the setting up of an organised pre-school chain via franchising in 2001. Till few years ago, most of the pre-schools in India lacked basic infrastructural facilities and followed no structured curriculum. But all this changed when EuroKids pre-schools entered the picture.

AG: When did you start franchising? From where did you get the inspiration to opt for franchising as a mode of expansion?

PR: We had started franchising in 2001. We observed that the pre-school space is a highly fragmented market with no entry barrier but a strong need for quality education. This arena lacked a standard, structured and appropriate curriculum suited to an age group and was run mostly by individuals with limited or no experience and resources. This observation inspired us to take off. The strong need for quality education acted as our motivation. We went ahead with an intention to create a base in 35 prominent towns and cities. We knew that this spread is only possible through a franchise model. But within the first year itself, we had touched 78 cities.

AG: What attracts women to the franchising concept and how is it beneficial for the women entrepreneurs to take up franchising?

PR: Eurokids franchisees are mostly women (90 per cent). Our franchise offering provides a healthy work-life balance. Education being a noble profession attracts many women to step into the entrepreneurial journey for the first time. Social recognition also acts as a motivator.

AG: What scope do you see for women in this sector?

PR: As a matter of fact, 98 per cent of the pre-school franchises are run by the women. With the growth in the industry, the scope of job for women in the pre-school segment would increase manifold.

AG: According to you what future do you foresee for franchising in the education sector in India?

PR:  India as a nation has a vast geography. It is extremely difficult for an education service provider to reach every nook and corner of India rapidly on its own. Additionally, due to a rapid infrastructural development, tier III and IV towns are also harvesting the benefits of this development. This has increased the aspirations and awareness in the masses. Franchising is an important tool to cater to these upcoming markets wherein the demand has increased. Education sector would see more of the franchising activity going forward.

AG: Has franchising made a difference in the performance of the company? Please share how it has done so?

PR: EuroKids has a mandate to do business predominantly through franchise route and we have been growing quite aggressively on a yearly basis.

AG: What is the USP of Eurokids?

PR: The content, execution, scalability, standardisation, monitoring and experience in the pre-school space are the unique selling proposition of EuroKids.

AG: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting franchisees?

PR: For any individual to become an entrepreneur, the ‘fire in the belly’ is all that is required. Besides, Eurokids usually looks for aspirants with a good reputation and with a minimum qualification of a graduate.

AG: How many franchisees do you have across India?

PR: Presently, we have more than 550 franchisees in 210 cities pan-India.

AG: What are your future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?

PR: We have a plan to add around 300 more franchisees to out franchise network within the next one year. Moving forward, we plan to have franchisee strength of 1000+ in the coming two years. Additionally, we have plans to increase our presence in the SAARC nations and start operations in South-east Asian nations and Middle East countries in the near future.

AG: In what ways do you support and train your franchisees?

PR: We impart an extensive training to each franchisee and their staffs that revolve around the year. Since there is a constant research and enrichment in our pedagogy, we take care that the franchisees are amply updated. Apart from this, we also invest in marketing efforts nationally and regionally from time-to-time as per requirements. We have dedicated individuals working both at the national level and the regional level who ensure that the delivery and services are as per the policy. The franchisees at EuroKids have the complete support both in terms of operational expertise and pedagogy from a highly effective team.

AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?

PR: All businesses have some challenges but in our case the challenges are simple. It is all about people management skills. There are some operational challenges but they can be overcome by our team members who are committed to provide all the assistance needed by the franchisees.

Related: A dramatic rise

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