Aiming to help students acquire deep understanding of mathematics and to kill the Maths monster SecondSchool Learning was set up. In a conversation, Ciby James, Founder & Director, SecondSchool Learning Pvt. Ltd shares the overall growth and expansion of the school.
Neha Gohil (NG): Shed some light on brand’s entrepreneurial journey. Briefly describe about ‘SecondSchool’?
Ciby James (CJ): SecondSchool was founded by me and my colleague in early 2010. The two of us were batch mates at, IIM Bangalore in 1983, and got together for this venture after a long stint in the corporate sector.
In SecondSchool we have put together a comprehensive platform for tuitions that makes the learning experience for students both interesting and impactful. In creating this platform, we have leveraged instruction design, technology and our experience in different fields. Students of Class IV to XII, can clear their fundamentals in Maths and Science, and get better marks. Our learning delivery system is built around a 5-step methodology, which ensures concept clarity, topic mastery, plenty of graded practice, testing, and a focused remediation program that delivers results.
NG: What is the USP of ‘SecondSchool’?
CJ: The USP of The SecondSchool is the 5 Step methodology for Assured Performance Improvement. This means that the students go through a structured program in which every part of the learning process has been carefully designed by expert teachers for maximum impact. Teaching delivery use visual slides, video and animations, combined with activity based learning to bring home the meaning of key concepts. Students are provided with rich and researched material, which helps practice and retention. The SecondSchool assessment delivers detailed information about the strengths and weakness of each individual student, which becomes the input for a focused remediation program.
NG: How is ‘SecondSchool’ distinctive from other school chains?
CJ: What makes SecondSchool truly unique is the focus on fundamentals in addition to ensuring present performance. SecondSchool ensures a solid grounding in Maths and Science through the following:
Today, the formal school system has between 30 - 50 students in a class and is not able to address individual needs. The present tuition system is focused on immediate results and thus, spends more time on root learning rather than establishing concepts. The best environment for learning should be a class that is small enough for individual attention and large enough for interactive learning. SecondSchool provides this environment.
NG: When and what motivated you to expand via franchising? What are your further expansion plans?
CJ: Our business model is one based on neighbourhood centres, and we want to make our tuition centres available in as many localities as possible. This vision is possible only on a franchise model.
Currently, we have over 40 centres. Outside Delhi, there are centres in Pune, Jaipur and Patna. Our plan is to increase the network beyond 100 by the end of the year and take it to over 1,000 centres in a couple of years.
NG: What kind of location are you looking for expansion in India?
CJ: Our current focus for expansion is in the Delhi NCR region. Beyond Delhi, there is a large potential for SecondSchool centres in tier I and tier II cities, apart from the metro cities in India.
NG: What are your requisites in terms of skills, area and investment?
CJ: We look for partners who have a passion for education. A background in the education field would be an added advantage, but is not necessary.
For partners we look for:
NG: What parameters do you follow for the selection of franchise partners?
CJ: We are concerned with profile of the prospective partner and the location of the centre, and potential of the locality to host a centre.
NG: What kind of training and support you offer to a franchisee?
CJ: SecondSchool has a continuous support program for partners which covers selling, counseling, local marketing, faculty selection, training and certification and teaching delivery. There are several regular training programs like selling process, counseling, centre head training, faculty training and partner training.
NG: What are the challenges that a franchisee faces in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
CJ: We expect our franchisees to reach break-even by the end of their first year. This requires a high commitment and sustained effort on the part of our partners to systematically build the centre, and its student base.
Getting the initial lot of students depend on ground level promotional efforts to be undertaken by the partner in the locality. However, the business sustains itself on the ‘Word of Mouth’, which is a function of the quality of instruction delivery and the results achieved by our students.