Developed by UK based Linguaphone Group, Pingu’s English is now debuting in India. In an interview, Anita Rao, Managing Director, Educational Catalysts India Pvt. Ltd, Indian Master Licensee of the brand shares the brand’s expansion plans.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Share with us how was the concept of Pingu’s English came into existence and discuss its USP?
Anita Rao (AR): Pingu’s English is a program developed by Linguaphone Group. The world’s leading provider of distance and classroom-based language learning language training solutions. It operates under the internationally recognised Linguaphone, Direct English and Pingu’s English brand names with over 100 years of experience. It has an extensive network of 200 learning centres in 25 countries and a portfolio of self-study courses sold across 60 countries.
Pingu’s English is based on the original Penguin cartoon. Pingu is a small penguin child who behaves and has interactions with material, family, friends and environment just like a young child. He fights with his sister, throws tantrums, is very curious and loves to explore. These original cartoon episodes have been used by the Linguaphone group to create the English language lessons for the children.
NB: Your company Early Learning Edu Services has signed Master Franchise deal with Pingu’s English? How and when did you decide to partner with Pingu?
AR: Early Learners Edu Services is a subsidiary of Educational Catalysts India Pvt. Ltd which has been in the education of the young children since a decade, and currently operates three brands of pre-schools – Strawberry fields (company owned company operated), Butterflies which is a franchisee brand, Polka Dots, the premium pre-school. All the pre-schools are located at Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The company has been working on the teaching content for implementation in our own branded schools which also comprises of language content. The current language program in our pre schools uses various methods to teach English to young children which is sight based, sound based and writing practice. What we found interesting about Pingu’s English is that it complements our existing program in our schools and other pre schools in India. This program focuses on spoken English and does not dwell into the grammar or the phonetics unlike any other school based program in India.
This was the reason which prompted us to sign up with Lingua phone English. We signed the agreement as Master Licensee in India in the month of May.
NB: Could you share the plans for expanding the brand’s footprint in India? Any plans for Sub franchising?
AR: Currently in India pre-schools segment and education industry is on the upswing and unaffected by the recession, we therefore see a great demand for this program by the educational institutions. Increasing desire to learn and speak English amongst the Indian population has always ensured better employability, and status in the society. This is equally applicable to the parents of young children as most of them send their children to English medium schools. We plan to sublicense this state-wise all over India. The various business plan for taking this forward would be franchising to pre schools, main stream schools, establishing exclusive Pingu centres, franchising to various tutorials, home school models and also giving it to existing educational institutions to conduct it as an after school activity, and in residential colonies, big townships and housing enclaves.
NB: What kind of products and/or services does the company offer and who is the targeted clientele?
AR: The Pingu’s program comprises of three levels for the children in the age group of three to eight years. The Master kit pack which will be provided to franchisee institutions comprises of almost 70 different components which include study books, activity books, teacher flash cards, teachers manuals, program DVD’s, cartoon DVD’s, song and story DVD’s, letter and numbers DVD’s, games etc. The student pack which will be given to the students comprises of study, activity, story and song books.
NB: How much initial investment is required in terms of space and money from the franchisee’s end to partner with you?
AR: The channel partners need an office space to run and control the activities. For establishing an Exclusive Pingu Centre- it is likely to be around Rs one to two lakh with a space of 600 sq.ft. While schools do not require any investment in infrastructure but need only to pay the franchisee fee. The franchisee fee for schools, tutorials Centres, home schools models etc range from Rs 40,000 onwards, however, the State or Region wise license rights are much higher and are for a period of six years.
NB: What kind of support and training is provided by Pingu’s English to its franchisees?
AR: The franchisee will get support in setting up the centre, continuous training and upgradation of trainer’s skills and abilities, creating awareness of the brand Pingu through various media and promotional activities, regular supply of books and other materials, exclusive rights to Pingu’s English within defined territory, world’s leading teaching and multimedia resources, comprehensive training program, dedicated business development, manager, management and teacher’s manuals, ongoing business, marketing and PR support.
NB: Tell us how innovative is the concept in India? How would you deal with competition from other companies offering similar programs?
AR: This concept is one of its first kind in India. It is very unique as Pingu is already a loved and a known character, and this cartoon is being constantly televised since a decade in many of the countries including India. Pingu’s English is for children in the age group three to eight years, it’s a multi media based program and requires a teacher /facilitator to implement and because of the nature of the product and the training provided to the facilitators / teachers it can be easily implemented in the school classrooms along with school curriculum, also as an after school program, and even at home tutorials.
Currently there are no interactive English multimedia based programs for the children in this age group in India. There are many multimedia English based programs for children but none of them use an already known cartoon. As it uses a facilitator / teacher for its implementation thereby ensuring continuity, quality and will offer result as review and assessment are an integral aspect of this program.