Finding the franchise model to be the most feasible way for scaling up the business, the company is spreading its network both nationally and internationally. In an interaction, Ninad Karpe CEO & MD Aptech Ltd shares company’s growth plans.
Namita Bhagat (NB): How ‘Aptech Ltd’ came into existence and what is the USP of the brand?
Ninad Karpe (NK): Aptech started its operations in 1986 when IT training in India was at a nascent stage. With clear focus on reaching out to all parts of the country to offer IT training, Aptech started off by setting up their own centres in nine major metros across the country between 1986 and 1989. Aptech researched, analysed and tested the local markets through these centres and then formalised systems and processes to introduce a franchise model, as franchising seemed to be the most feasible way for scaling up the business and also spreading the network nationally and internationally.
NB: The company has opted for franchise growth model. How and when did you start franchising for expansion of the company?
NK: First franchise centre was set up in Chandigarh in 1990. From just one centre of Aptech Computer Education (its first brand) in Mumbai, today there are over 1,000 centres across the globe with 12 company owned centres, where as the rest are franchised.
NB: The company has franchise presence in India as well as internationally. Do you have a different franchise system and products specifications for different countries?
NK: We follow a multi geography and multi brand strategy for global expansion. We may follow a master franchisee route, to a joint venture to a normal business partnership for the expansion.
NB: What sort of challenges do you face while catering to varied markets across globe? Who is your target clientele (Indian Diasporas or other nationalities also)?
NK: The main challenges are language, finding the right business partner, regulatory environment. Also career education selling is almost like a concept selling and thus requires a lot of time and patience. The target market includes all nationalities and entrepreneurs who are passionate about education.
NB: How many franchise/owned locations do you have at present in India and worldwide and how many are expected in coming years?
NK: All brands put together, we have a total of 846 franchisees in India. Internationally the number is 459. We expect to add another 150 centres in this financial year, both in India and abroad.
NB: The company is expanding MACC into Phillipines. When and how did you include MACC in company’s portfolio?
NK: Entering Phillipines is part of the internalisation of Maac plans. Maac has a unique proposition and is seen very highly by all stake holders of the brand. MAAC (Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics) is a pioneer in high-end 3D animation and VFX (Visual Effects) education.
NB: How many MACC centres do you have at present? Could you share with us its further expansion plans both in India and internationally?
NK: We have a total of 80 MAAC centres in India as of now. We plan to expand to another 20 centres this fiscal.
NB: What are the eligibility criteria for the selection of the franchisees in India and internationally in terms of initial investment and space requirement?
NK: We seek passion for education and excellence in our franchisees. Also, the ideal location and space would be around the student catchment area. Investments differ with each brand and location.
NB: What kind of support and training is provided to the franchisees by the company for starting and operating the franchise business?
NK: Prior to the sign up, we explain to the franchisees the following, a) How to evaluate market potential, b) How to prepare Business Plan, c) How to evaluate the project viability, d) Our area of Product offering (Animation, IT Training, English Speaking), f) Operational details, g) And support mechanism.
Further on confirmation on sign up: a) Business Plan, b) Specific Centre Requirements, c) Activity Planner. Then on Sign up we provide a) Product Training, b) Placement orientation, c) Portal Training, d)Academic Management orientation, e) Training for new Staff (Counselor, Marketing Executive, Faculty, Academic Head etc), f) Technical Trainings as per Calendar will be conducted.
Moreover, within the first three to four months of operation – One implementation audit is conducted by Systems Audit team to assess the learning and if required further trainings will be conducted for specific areas and also HO Operations Team collects feedback from Centers directly for their understanding of systems and procedures.