With academic content development across all media, Sesame Street is making its mark in early education pan-India. Mona Singh, Vice President, Sesame Street, shares the brand’s journey so far and the way ahead .
How has the pre-school segment grown via franchising?
I don’t think now we even need to debate why pre-school. . With so much awareness about how brain development takes place within age five, the parents are already very well aware that faster the child gets social exposure; the better it is for a child. Also the factors like working parents, the joint family system is not being there has fuelled the growth of this segment. Now, when we say why franchising pre-school and not other preschools, the factor that comes in here is all about quality. Franchising facilitates the brand to take their successful model across the cities and the. There is a lot of research that says that, the preschool market is moving from being an unorganised market to being organised. The branded players offer certain quality parameters across all their outfits. The preschool segment has been complimented by franchising so well because firstly, the investment level that is not too high. All you need to do is follow the guidelines. Also, it is easy to run a preschool compared to other tech driven business format.
What is your USP?
We are a content developer for preschool across all media that includes videos, print, books, online educational games and that’s the strength we bring to the table. It’s the curriculum, the content, the way we treat the children in our school is the biggest differentiator. Our approach is not like a franchisor rather it is like an educator. We implement methods that are tried and tested globally. We have 40 years of research as the back of us. Everything that is a part of Sesame, starting from the school supplies to the training modules – brings along a global perspective to it. How we treat the children is our first USP, we are global in our approach is our second USP, we have all forms of content is our third USP. We try to bring high quality, resources down to market to change the paradigm of preschool education.
What are the other products in your portfolio?
We have few after school programs. One is on arts called Reflection. One is STEAM on science, technology, engineering, arts and maths and alternative way of studying that which we call Discovers Club, we also have vocabulary and reading classes. Along with that we are also launching an app which contains materials for our school students at present which we will eventually expand to parents and other people as well who can run all these videos into mobile devices.
What is your opinion about the contribution of the franchise partner in growth of the business?
Franchisees have a huge contribution. Because we are the ones who provide the SOPs, The curriculum and the guidelines and they are the ones who run it. That is why franchisee selection is very important. A good franchisee understands the value of what we bring and is also a very good executor. While we provide them ideas, they have to do the hard work on the ground. So having good franchisees that are aligned is the most important criteria.
What does it take to make a successful franchisee?
Through all these years of working and growing with so many franchise partners all across India, please share with us some stories of success while setting up a franchisee.
What were the factors that led to a win-win for you as well as your partner?
Both the franchisor and the franchisee have to agree on all the factors like curriculum, safety, hygiene and high quality early education. The second is what we say hard work. Some of our best franchisees are completely aligned with us on two parameters – how to run the centre and how to popularise the centre. Two or three of our franchisees have taken multiple franchisees. In three years of journey in the preschool segment, we have 30 operational school and 20 more to join soon.
Please name some of your best working franchisees.
Patna, Bhagwat Nagar, Manikonda in Hyderabad, Bangalore and a new one to come up in Alwar.
For an absolute fresher in this business, what would be your advice to run the school efficiently?
Running a preschool is like doing any other business. The efforts have to be put in. You need to study what others are doing and be prepared to work very hard on the ground to make it a success model. It’s not like hiring some teachers and saying, I’ll be open half a day. You have to ensure quality. You have to popularise the centre. You have to be present all seven days of the week for parents to walk in.