With the introduction of m-learning (mobile learning), iProf envisions to provide affordable education platform to the Indian consumers spread over at remote locations. In an interview, Sanjay Purohit, CEO, iProf India shares the concept and future plans of his company.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Brief us about the inception of iProf India.
Sanjay Purohit (SP): iProf India has brought a revolutionary concept in technology-based education for the very first time in India. We are launching a seven inch touch screen wi-fi enabled Personal Education Tablet which can be used anytime, anywhere without any internet connectivity and computer for the learning purpose. Based on our initial surveys, we found that e-learning in India is not as successful as in other countries of the world. With poor infrastructure, and unavailability of high speed broadband connectivity especially in tier II and tier III cities. Thus, we came out with this unique and extremely affordable concept for the benefit of the student community at large who do not have access to computers and internet especially in remote areas.
RK: When did the company start franchising? What has inspired iProf India to take the franchise route to expand the business?
SP: iProf India started franchising in December 2009. We are looking for a massive reach all across the country to achieve our set objectives of providing quality and affordable education to students in each city, village and town of our country. The only tried and tested way to scale-up our presence is through the franchising route. We stand committed to deliver value to our franchisees with our unique concept.
RK: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting franchisees for iProf India?
SP: We want our franchisees to be graduates at least, though we prefer a post graduate. Though prior experience is critical but it is not the criteria for the selection of the franchisees. However, experience in the education sector can be an added advantage for the entrepreneur. We are more open to join hands with people from different industry domains because we strongly believe that they bring in varied and relevant experience.
RK: How much investment is required by the franchisees to secure the franchise of your company?
SP: The investment depends from one location to another and the total project cost ranges between Rs 7-9 lakh.
RK: What kind of training and support does a franchisee get when partnering with your company?
SP: We provide our franchisees with regular training programmes and support systems for ensuring effective and profitable operation of iProf centres. As we provide technology-based learning, thus we have the freedom to up date curriculum almost instantaneously i.e., whenever required by our data servers or whenever the need arises. The training manuals are constantly up dated for the staff and franchisees to ensure its relevancy in the market space.
RK: What kind of location is apt for opening such institutes? Do you help your franchisees in negotiating the right location?
SP: Any location (be it commercial, semi-commercial or residential) is considered apt. However, the locations like existing education hub in the city, fast food joints, near the vicinity of schools, colleges and so on are considered favourable as they ensure large footfall of students. We do help our franchisees in negotiating a right location for opening the centres.
RK: How many franchise centres do you have at present?
SP: We have 47 locations signed up all across India in the first three months. Out of these, the first set of 15 centres are launching in April 2010.
RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
SP: We plan to have 600 operational ‘iProf iStudy Zones’ by 2012. We are targeting India as in first phase although we are exploring few relationships in Middle East and few South Asian countries as we move forward.