Understanding the increasing aspirations of parents to see their children succeed in medical and engineering profession, Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) providing entrance exams coaching came into being. In an interview Aakash Chaudhry, Director, AESL shares the success of the coaching brand via franchising.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share with us the inception, growth and success of Aakash Educational Services. How has been the experience so far?
Aakash Chaudhry (AC): Aakash Educational Services Limited is the tangible form of a vision conceptualised by a great visionary, J C Chaudhry, a Botany teacher by profession. The first coaching centre, Aakash Institute, was started in 1988 to tutor the aspirants for medical entrance examination preparation at Delhi. With the success achieved, Aakash geared up with the gradual expansion of its centres across India. Numerous selections and 1st rankers produced across India in some of the toughest medical entrance exams got accredited to Aakash. With the kind of success it had with students, Aakash forayed into Engineering Entrance examination coaching across India in 2007 with Aakash IIT-JEE and continued its success saga here as well. 2008 saw Aakash Institute and Aakash IIT-JEE become part of a limited company, named Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL). Today AESL witnesses thousands of selections in Medical and Engineering Entrance Exams, with over 60 centres across India, over 100 exam centres and a total classroom student base of more than 60,000 students annually.
AG: When and why did you opt for the franchise route for AESL?
AC: A decade after Aakash started with its coaching services and the kind of success it had with the students associated, the first franchisee of Aakash came into existence in 1998. With growing demand for the quality coaching system built by Aakash, it was difficult to accommodate and/or serve aspiring students from different parts of the country at our Delhi centres. The demand from students and limited resources at hand led us to extend franchise of Aakash brand in hands of some committed entrepreneurs and educationists. Ever since the network of our own and franchise centres has grown.
AG: What is the success mantra for AESL? In what ways is it different from other educational institutes in India?
AC: Aakash’s vision to ‘become a pre-eminent educational group that works towards the overall advancement of the society by enabling the brightest minds of the country to achieve what they desire to and what they deserve to' has also incidentally become the success mantra of AESL. It has created a legacy in the medical and engineering entrance examination domain across India.
Aakash has reached the numero-uno position today as it has really evolved and kept up its pace with the passing time offering numerous selections and 1st rankers in various medical and engineering entrance exams across India. It has devised varied mix of coaching programs for the class VIII to class XII students to prepare them for various medical, engineering entrance examinations. We offer exhaustive, relevant, original and easily comprehensible study material designed as per the pattern of the entrance exams. To top it up, the faculty at Aakash is a perfect mix of academicians and subject experts who are made to go through a tough selection and training process to impart flawless coaching services.
AG: What are the new initiatives for success that the company has taken in the present year? How will it affect the learning mechanism of students?
AC: The year 2012 has witnessed quite a number of new initiatives pioneered by Aakash; some are novel to the extent that they have been introduced first time ever by any player in the coaching domain. Aakash iTutor - a tablet based educational product, provides the best ensemble of classroom coaching and self-study. We have a tie-up as the Knowledge Partner in Sony channel’s Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC).
Aakash iTutor & Aakash TV Tutoring surely give an edge to the students who cannot avail the Aakash’s Regular Classroom Programs. These are in no ways lacking in terms of study materials, lectures, test assessments etc which are a part and parcel of a typical classroom program.
AG: Where do you see the brand in five years time? What are your plans till the end of 2012?
AC: we plan to expand from current more than 60 centres in India to 100 centres in next five years. Further, we aim to strengthen the brand with entry into formal education set up of K12 schools and colleges.
AG: How many franchise outlets does the brand presently has?
AC: Currently, Aakash has 29 franchisees across India and plans are in the pipeline to further extend our reach to multiple cities.
AG: What according to you is the scope for aspiring franchisees in this business? Is the future bright in the years to come?
AC: Every year the number of aspirants is increasing for medical and engineering entrance exams. With one common entrance test from next year, there is expected to be a big demand for a national level trusted brand. Coaching is a national phenomenon and is required at all levels and in all parts of the country. The level of aspirations for parents to see their children succeed in medical and engineering profession is unparalleled. With growing aspirants and lesser number of seats the exams will be competitive for years to come. People with liking for systematic work and genuine interest in benefiting children in their endeavors can succeed beyond imagination in this field.
Setting up an Aakash franchise require fair amount of investment in infrastructure, marketing and initial year cash flows.
AG: What are the qualities and qualifications that you seek for in your franchisees? Is it essential to have an educational background?
AC: Aakash always puts quality before business motives and thus have reached such heights after years of hard work. The essential pre-requisites to become Aakash’s franchisee would be: have fire to excel, right skills and attitude, experience and knowledge in education industry, ideas which can change the face of this industry and all it takes to make a successful entrepreneur.
It is highly preferred to have a franchisee with experience in education sector.