Starkids is an innovative and ground-breaking initiative by Apex Knowledge Group to help children meet their full potential and prepare them for tomorrow. In an interview, Nirmal Agarwal, CEO, Starkids share the future plans of his company.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): When did Starkids come into existence? How did you get the idea of starting Starkids?
Nirmal Agarwal (NA): We started Starkids in 2007 in Kolkata. We have been running a college for the last ten years, and while taking the enquiries of the students for graduation and post graduation studies, we realised their time of mental development is almost over. So, it becomes very difficult for us to change the way they are and the thoughts or mindset they require. When we did a research on this, we realise that major part of the child’s potential to learn or what we term as mature intelligence, develops by the time the child is eight. So, it is the most important time for them to be given in the proper intervention to develop their mental faculties and life skills. That is how we got the idea of starting Starkids and these innovative Enrichment Programs for child development, so that we can make a difference at that age.
These are being offered in addition to the Preschool programs we run at our centres.
RK: How did your qualification in finance, marketing and HRM helped you to establish the business?
NA: I entered the education industry because I find it socially useful and professionally stimulating. My training in areas like finance, marketing and HRM helped me in managing the business, dealing with people, understanding finances, and marketing products and services. All these qualification helped me in various aspects of running and developing the business.
RK: When did you think of taking the franchise route to expand the Starkids?
NA: We have recently decided to take the expansion route through franchising. Though we have been thinking about taking the franchise route for a while but we wanted to fine tune everything at the ground level with our own centres before getting started with franchising. We took the franchise route because it is the best way for us to partner other entrepreneurs and grow together with common vision.
RK: What would be the eligibility criteria for selecting the franchisees of Starkids?
NA: We are looking for smart and intelligent entrepreneurs that could be teachers, women entrepreneurs and retired defence personnel. In short, we are looking at people who have entrepreneurs’ mindset and a desire to make a difference in education sector. Some experience in the education sector would be an advantage. Depending on the city, the investment would range from Rs 6.5 lakh to 10 lakh with an area of 15, 00 sq. ft preferably on the ground floor. The location should be in a secure residential area with preferably with an open play space.
RK: What kind of support and training would be provided to the franchisees?
NA: We will give complete hand holding to the franchisees in terms of what they require in that particular locality. We will have central marketing fund that will be used across the nation to market the brand. The required training will be given to the franchisees and their staff. We will even help our franchisees in recruiting their staff and fitting them into the various roles at the centres. We even help our franchisees in finding out suitable spaces and leasing out the site.
RK: How many centres the company presently has in India?
NA: Presently, we are operating through three centres in Kolkata. Since we had our head quarters in Kolkata, we wanted to operate and manage company owned centres only. However, for our expansion across other cities, we have adopted the franchise route to enable a partnered growth.
RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
NA: We are targeting to have 20 franchised centres by the next one year. This expansion plan will be followed by taking the count to 100 centres in the next three years and 250 franchised centres in the next five years.
RK: Any advice for the aspiring entrepreneurs?
NA: In my opinion, entrepreneurs should try to start a business they are very passionate about, as the success depends a lot on the passion they bring into it. They must bring in their desire to succeed in the field of their choice and interest.
Set your goals ahead of you, acquire the expertise to run the business, and work hard towards success.