i360, a company that provides complete job oriented services to both the professionals and corporate is all set to expand via franchising. In an interview, Deepanshu Khurana, CEO, i360 shares the origin, growth and future plans of the company.
Ramajit Kaur (RK): Could you please shed some light on the inception of the i360?
Deepanshu Khurana (DK): i360 started functioning with the initiative of a woman entrepreneur named Sonia Nagpal almost two years back. The company was primarily set up with an objective of imparting soft skill training and solution for in-house recruitment problems. At the moment, the company deals both in retail and corporate sector.
RK: When did the company start franchising? What has inspired the company to take the franchise route?
DK: We actively started franchising in April 2009. We always wanted to exercise this model to establish our pan-India presence. With limited resources, franchising was the best tool available for us to expand the presence of the brand.
RK: In what ways i360 is different from other players in the similar sector? In other words, what is the USP?
DK: i360 is a complete solution for soft skill training, staffing and in-house recruitment problems. The company provides training in number of areas. We also provide distinct training mechanism that helps us stand apart in the sector.
RK: What all courses does the company offer?
DK: We offer a number of training programme which are divided into two categories. Such as, courses for retail sector and short-term courses for corporate sector. For instance, training courses for call centre, retail management, are the career courses. We provide short-term courses like English speaking, personality development and few more. We also have a catalogue of more than 200 basic programmes for corporate sector and also train corporates. We also have institutional training programme.
RK: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting the franchisees?
DK: We are looking for the entrepreneurs who want to take the franchise as a full time profession. We want people who can invest up to Rs five to 10 lakh and a minimum of 700 sq. ft of area. We also want our franchisees to start the centre at a commercial property, and should be near to an educational hub, preferably an area with parking facility and with proper ventilation.
RK: What kind of training and support does a franchisee get when partnering with you?
DK: We have various level of support, pre-operational and post-operational support. We also have a team of employees, who visit our franchisees and make them understand the project, the layout of the centre, and the schedule to launch the centre. As far as the ongoing support is concerned, we provide our franchisees with operational and marketing support, sales and training support and also technological support. In short, we offer multiple level of support and we are 24X7 available for our franchisees.
RK: How many centres does the company presently have?
DK: Presently, we have 45 centres in 11 cities. Out of which, 40 are franchised and five are company owned and company operated.
RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
DK: We are targeting more than hundred franchised centres across the nation by the end of this fiscal year. We are primarily aiming at the northern and eastern region of India. However, the option for south and west are also open.
RK: Any advice for the aspiring entrepreneur?
DK: Any entrepreneur who wants to start a business through franchising should carefully analyse the profile of the company, the franchisor, support system and other important information. Besides this, the entrepreneur should also have the capability to match the expectation of the organisation.