In a quest to educate young children with a wholesome robotic learning, robo.in with ThinkLABS has stepped forward to train students about robot building and programming. In an interview Gagan Goyal, Promoter and Director, robo.in and ThinkLABS shares his views about the future of the company.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share with us the inception of ‘robo.in’.
Gagan Goyal (GG): We operate with two brand names: ‘ThinkLABS’ for the college segment and ‘robo.in' to cater to the school education segment. Our company has been focusing on the educational space of embedded software and robotics. By developing an active interest towards robotics and embedded systems, we aim to lay a strong foundation for the technical development of our country. We are a constant facilitator in the scientific and technical education of students by providing them classroom education, workshops and other resources through wide variety of embedded hardware and robotic kits, software based robot programming tools and web based learning resources.
AG: In what ways is robo.in different from other institutes? What is its USP?
GG: Our USP is the Research and Development (R&D) work. With the R&D lab at IIT Mumbai, robo.in and ThinkLABS have been fortunate to be mentored by elite faculty, research personnel and technologists from IIT and the industry. All the educational products and training modules have been whetted thoroughly by academicians and industry experts. ThinkLABS and 'robo.in' have played a pioneering role in educational robotics for college and school children. The R&D lab helps us upgrade and modernise the products on a continuous basis which in turn keeps us much ahead of the competitors.
AG: How is the concept of robo.in evolving in India?
GG: The embedded systems and robotics industry requires a vast pool of educated and skilled manpower to sustain its impressive growth rate. The current education system provides limited hands-on experience and exposure to the latest technologies to the students. This is where we felt a major gap existed. Our offerings are multi-layered and spread geographically. We provide a training programme based on actual industry requirements. The programme for the school children through ‘robo.in’ provides the first practical experience of science and technology to the students. The courses that have been designed for the young minds have been tested on hundreds of students and we are thrilled to find acceptability of this among students, parents and the school authorities. The microcontroller based hardware, intuitive visual software and the learning material have all been again designed and developed in our own laboratory and have been rightly priced for Indian pockets.
AG: What inspired you to take the franchise route? When did you start franchising?
GG: We believe that we have time and target tested educational products and services through which our franchisees will benefit. At the same time, we recognise that our technology is our niche and our domain is education. Hence, the board decided to get into the franchising with utmost care. We started offering franchising for the school segment as the first step a few months back. We plan to invite franchisees for the college level education services by next financial year.
AG: How many centres do you have at present? What are the future target locations for your expansion?
GG: Currently, we have two franchisees. We are negotiating with many people and we intend to set up centres all over India and beyond the border. At the same time, we understand our responsibility in choosing right minded partners to ensure the long term quality focus for which we stand for.
AG: Did you face any challenges while expanding the company through the franchise route? Do share them.
GG: Since the concept and the technology are new, we need to spend a little more time to educate the franchise prospects on the technology, methodology and business principle of our company.
AG: What kind of training and support does a franchisee get when partnering with you?
GG: Both technical and sales trainings are offered. We also organise follow-up training programme. We keep enough bandwidth available for the franchisee to interact with us on a regular basis.
AG: What kind of background is necessary for securing a franchise of your company?
GG: Although not restricted by the principle, we would prefer entrepreneurs with prior experience in retail education. We are looking for people with strong interfaces and formal education system. We look for people with an ethical and educational bent of mind.