Play is primary to a child and synonymous to childhood. Keeping this in mind New Age Knowledge Solutions (P) Ltd (NAKS) has come up with a unique play school concept named ‘I Play I Learn’. In an interview Arun K Khetan, CEO & MD of NAKS shares the origin and growth of the unique Pre-School Concept ‘I Play I Learn’.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Tell me about the origin of 'I Play I Learn'.
Arun Khetan (AK): Child and play are like two miscible liquids and the fact remains that nobody ever teaches a child to play; yet children play and learn many aspects by exploring the environment and surrounding and play remains the basic mode of learning for early years. We found this theory very interesting and appealing and strongly influenced by this law of nature the whole process started and ‘I Play I Learn’ was born.
The successful emergence of such a strong theme and curriculum lead the development of the entire eco-system of ‘I Play I Learn’ pre-school model, which is uniquely conceptualised and configured with and around “PLAY”, very proprietary to us .I Play I Learn emphasises on play in an environment, where children can play little facilitators to their development, take a lead, discuss, follow and get together to learn with their guiding facilitators and playmates.
RK: What inspired I Play I Learn to take the franchise route to expand the brand? What difference have you noticed in the performance of the company after opting franchising?
AK: It is largely a class and mass based concept with potential of gaining popularity across the country. My years of experience in this segment have made me realise that a mix of 20:80 owned and franchised play schools is the best route to penetrate across the nation.
Being well aware of the demographics in India, we realise that our prospective business partners may have a mix of competencies and resources in varied proportion. Hence, we envisage on these aspects before developing the business plan for expansion in order to achieve a win-win opportunity for both the franchisor and the franchisees.
RK: What practices and initiatives have you introduced in 'I Play I Learn'?
AK: A good franchise operation has the ability to transfer the concept, its know-how to the new franchisee and implement the proven practices at any other franchise location. Keeping this in mind, we ensure to impart the required knowledge to our franchisees, which includes handholding, training and detailed guidelines on the entire functioning of I Play I Learn concept. Technology oriented innovative support is also provided to our franchisees, which includes OFSS (online franchise support system) and FMIS (franchise management and information system).
RK: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting the franchisees of your company?
AK: The basic eligibility criteria for selecting the franchisees of I Play I Learn are:
RK: How many franchisees do you have and in which all cities?
AK: Presently, we have a network of approx. more than 48 signed franchisees, which are in various stages of developments. They are located largely in most of major metros, semi-metros, few other prominent cities and townships across the country.
RK: What support do you provide to your franchisees?
AK: I Play I Learn eco-system have a well structured and well defined support mechanism in place. Its multi-level support is duly extended simultaneously from both the centralized support cell at head office and the concerned regional office. The entire support process is broadly classified into the following four stages:
RK: Any advice for the young entrepreneurs?
AK: It is highly recommended that a comprehensive study must be done by the young entrepreneurs on their own to understand the industry, cycle and its nature. In addition to this, they must conduct a detailed survey of the area in which they want to operate. Knowledge of the local market, its potentials can be obtained through SWOT analysis of the franchising company. They are also advised to discuss the implications and authenticity of the SWOT outcome with the representative of the chosen franchisor before moving ahead. Most importantly, the decision of owning a franchised business must be given a deep consideration rather than taking an impulsive decision.
RK: What are the company’s future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
AK: I Play I Learn is a new company which is only four to five months old. We have our interim plans in place. Hopefully, we will have our expansion plans in place by end of February 2010 or mid-March of the next financial year 2010-11.