With the dream of turning a childhood fantasy into a real-life sport/hobby, MRK Menon, the man behind Aero-Sports came up with the concept of aeromodelling. In an interview, MRK Menon, Founder and Chief Consultant, Aero-Sports briefs us about his company and its success.
Abha Garyali (AG): Tell us something about the inception and success of Aero-Sports?
MRK Menon (MRKM): Growing up as an aeromodeller, I found it difficult and expensive to get quality aeromodelling supplies and instruction. After a 20 year stint in New York when I returned to Kerala in 2008, I got the inspiration to do something unique and exciting. My chance of meeting Vinod Madhav, our technical director led to the creation of Aero-Sports. In just 18 months, we have become a household name in Kerala. We have franchisees operating in Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Chattisgarh, Pune, Chenai, and Delhi. Based on statistics provided by franchiseindia.com, we have received more than 15,000 hits and 500 of them are serious franchise inquiries. We have also been able to forge dynamic partnerships with a Jet Engine Training Center, a top notch pilot training centre, thus offering A-Z in the field of aviation education in India.
AG: How is it different from other educational institutes?
MRKM: We are a registered small scale industry unit with a full-fledged workshop and trained staff comprising of two aeronautical engineers who impart aeromodelling instruction, supervise aeromodelling related project work for engineering college students. In addition, we are the only training institution that is totally devoted in promoting the hobby and sport of aeromodelling. All our training programmes use laptops, LCD projectors, and flight simulators.
AG: When did you start franchising? What inspired you to take the franchise route for Aero-Sports?
MRKM: We started our franchise operations about a year back. My goal has always been to generate jobs by promoting entrepreneurship. The franchise model seemed to be the best bet and it has worked out beautifully.
AG: What are your views regarding the future of franchising in Aero-Sports?
MRKM: Our target is to create 1000 job all over India. An aspiring franchisee can choose to start our Aero-Sports franchise or our career counselling/educational franchise. The response has been terrific.
AG: What are the qualities and criteria for the selection of your prospective franchisees?
MRKM: I would look forward in associating with decent people who have the passion to teach and in the process set up or operate an independent business. They also have to graduate a six- seven days training programme.
AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which cities in India?
MRKM: We have 11 operating franchises spread over Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Lucknow, New Delhi, and Chattisgarh. Two more franchisees will complete their training by May 2010 itself. Now that all our facilities and staff are in place, we plan to open five new franchises each month.
AG: In what ways do you support and train your franchisees?
MRKM: All our franchisee training programmes are residential since mid May 2010. Franchisees stay at our guest house and thus get an opportunity to learn more about our business by interacting with our dynamic staff. During the seven days intensive training programme they learn how to design, build and fly various types of aeromodels, take classes, go on sales promotional trips, participate in tech festivals etc. On the last day, we teach them the operational aspects of the business. The franchisee is allowed to bring one staff or family member to the programme.
AG: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee?
MRKM: We charge one time fee of Rs 85,000 for our aeromodelling franchise and a one time fee of Rs 49,500 for our career counselling franchise. After the first year, a franchisee can renew the relationship for a small annual fee of just Rs 15,000. He/she can also break free and run their business in their own style. The franchise fee includes our dynamic website, all materials to get started, residential training, and one year consulting fee.
AG: What are your future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
MRKM: Our goal is to have 1000 franchises, thus covering the whole of India. Shortly, our regional offices will start working in Pune, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai.