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Education Interview 2016-09-27

How Eurokids is proving that franchising in preschool can take you to the top

Today for every child, going to a reputed, well organised, and structured pre-school has become a necessity. Parents today select those schools that focus on the child’s well-being, safety and security gives importance to maintaining a healthy and hygienic...

How Eurokids is proving that franchising in preschool can take you to the top

According to a new research report, the preschool market is set to thrive in India, with market revenue anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 13.5 per cent during 2017. This growth will be driven by numerous factors including rise in disposable income, working mothers, nuclear families, and escalating demand for high quality preschool education for toddlers.

Preschool marks the beginning of the educational journey for a child. A 2-2.5-year-old learns the act of sharing, standing in queues, waiting for their turns and other basic etiquettes here. He/ She makes friends, plays, learns and enjoys their early years at this platform. So a good preschool is a must nowadays to ensure quality learning time for your child. In a tete-a-tete with, Prajodh Rajan, Co-founder, EuroKids international Limited, shares his journey of becoming one of the top preschools in India. Here are extracts from the interview:

Share with us your journey since inception till now.

I think our journey has been really fulfilling and one full of learnings and re-learnings. We started with wanting to create the perfect preschool for children but soon realised that a PreSchool is after all, a child’s first experience away from the home. It’s a huge leap for both the parents as well as for the child and as such a great transition for both entities.

Therefore it was essential to create a nurturing home-like environment for child wherein this transition between home and preschool is made comfortable by providing a holistic nurturing environment with emphasis on child development, safety and security, cleanliness and hygiene, well-being of the child – which would make the pre-school like Child’s Second Home. From this belief system and enthused with the trust of parents and franchise partners, EuroKids soon scaled up operations and added PreSchools across the length and breadth of the country. Within a span of 15 years, EuroKids has grown from two PreSchools in 2001 to 900+ Pre-Schools, across 3 countries, 350 towns and cities and having nurtured more than 300,000 children till date.

What inspired you to venture into education sector and why?

Let us understand that the need for quality preschooling has arisen out of our demographics itself. We have in society today, a high number of nuclear families and dual working parents. With smaller family size and lesser family time available, the demand for a quality preschool of international safety standards, with structured curriculum enhanced significantly.

Today for every child, going to a reputed, well organised, and structured pre-school has become a necessity. Parents today select those schools that focus on the child’s well-being, safety and security and give importance to maintaining a healthy and hygienic environment and have structured curriculum that helps shape the future of the child in a competitive world – and hence EuroKids becomes the preferred choice.

EuroKids is the market leader in the preschool segment. What strategies do you adopt to stay ahead in the competition?

EuroKids is among the first to adopt innovative learning initiatives to stay ahead of the others. Our focus always remains towards understanding the needs of the child in the preschool and directing all our efforts towards being solely child-centric. Our efforts have always been to distinguish ourselves on basis of structured curriculum of international standards and ensuring its continuous evolution as per changing times. Our curriculum is based on research findings by Centre on The Developing Child at Harvard University that focuses on building ‘Executive Function Skills’ (EFS), that are crucial for building positive behaviour in children from an early age. It integrates multiple representation, expression and engagement to focus on developing Executive Function skills vital for Next Gen learners.

We also place great focus on understanding the parents of students and our pre-schools work hard at establishing and maintaining a rapport with them so that we understand their needs best and are always in sync with their requirements.

How important is technology in education? Do you think the future of India’s education industry lies in EdTech? Elaborate.

For us this question can be answered in two parts. Technology today is all pervasive. However, when it comes to preschooling, the amount of technology that a child must be exposed to in his formative years, we believe, must be controlled. At EuroKids, we believe that what we provide is a controlled learning environment for the child where there are just appropriate tech-enabled learning initiatives. As part of our curriculum we have Motion-Based Learning, which enables learning through a digital medium like games, stories, rhymes and videos etc.

Beyond pre-schooling, I believe technology has ensured a paradigm change in the manner in which education is delivered in this country. Most institutions today showcase digital curriculum and mediums to disseminate education to a wider network of students. Technology has also made it convenient to share the curriculum, revisit the same at convenience and hold easier procedures towards examinations.

All in all, when under a supervised platform, technology is a great enabler of education.

Brief us on your venture EuroKids Saplings.

EuroKids Saplings was initiated to cater to the pre-primary education needs of the main line schools through the country. It offers the mainline schools well-structured Pre-Primary education with age appropriate curriculum, which is imparted in a stimulating learning environment with highly involved teachers. EuroKids Saplings provides the main line schools with the expertise of the Pre-School specialist that benefits the school as well as the child in equal measure. Main line schools are offered with a rewarding opportunity to grow and succeed and this unique association concept provides schools with complete know-how to operate a successful Pre-School.

Coming to your franchise model, what makes your franchise model interesting for the potential franchisees?

Being a EuroKids franchise is a mutually rewarding partnership as it is investment friendly, has scalable returns and gives wings to your dreams of being an entrepreneur. For those looking to start-up their own enterprise or creating an additional revenue pillar for the family, we do believe that being a franchisee at EuroKids helps you achieve and enhance financial stability. We truly believe that for the franchise partner to succeed, the entrepreneur must have a passion and love for the business. In our minds, the pre-schooling business is a long term financially rewarding enterprise that is here to stay and a good fitment for those looking to set up their own enterprise.

Additionally we also offer EDGE 360 which is our franchise support program to help our franchise partners start up in an easier fashion. We provide them with Infrastructure & Ambience Design, Equipment & Teaching Aids, Researched Curriculum, Teacher Training & Assessment, Marketing & Operational Support and Lead Management Support.

What makes EuroKids an interesting option for the franchise partner are factors like being aninternational brand, having aninternational research backed curriculum, having standardised and structured processes, a dedicated franchisee support team and a highly awarded business model.

How has franchising helped you grow your business?

The concept of franchising has led to the development of various businesses in the country including education. Due to its financially rewarding nature, starting a pre-school franchise business has become quite popular in recent years.

From a business point of view, the franchise route taken helps to reduce the CAPEX of the business dramatically and gives us wider and faster reach across our markets. The franchising model is helping create successful entrepreneurs out of individuals who have simply an entrepreneurial bent of mind, a passion for education & a drive to achieve excellence.

What are your criteria to choose the right franchise partner?

When we look at joining hands with a partner we do look for like-mindedness and passion towards education as one of the foremost abilities in a partner. Of course he/she must have the commitment to help carry forward our ambition of making learning a fun experience for kids and understanding that this business is a long term financially rewarding asset.

To commence our association, the franchise prospect must possess a minimum area of 2000 sq feet or more (self-owned or rented) in a quiet, tranquil and peaceful locality. The premises should be on the ground floor with an open outdoor area to match which will act as the outdoor play area. The premises should also have independent access, attached toilet facilities and should be well ventilated. The initial investment is in the range of INR.12,00,000/- to INR.20, 00,000/- which would be towards ambience and equipment costs and would also include the start-up franchise fees.

How many schools are you planning to open by the end of 2016? How many of these will be franchise & company-owned?

We are almost a 100 per cent franchised business and we intend to expand our business beyond the 900+ pre-schools that are already present. By the end of 2016 we are looking at adding 360 pre-schools to the current capacity. We do sense a maturing of the major metro cities and believe that there is great untapped potential in the tier-II and III towns and cities and have focused our energies on these territories.

Mention any key achievements and milestones accomplished by Eurokids in the last five years.

We at EuroKids focus greatly on providing a great learning environment for the children at our pre-schools. Over a period of time this effort has been truly recognized by parents and reflected in tour presence when by 2015 we reached a landmark of over 900+ pre-schools across 350+ towns and cities in India. In the same year we were also awarded with the prestigious ‘Hall Of Fame’ award and have been honoured with the Indian Education Award for ‘Innovation in Early Learning’. This year has also seen us bag The Indian Power Brand Award 2016.

Year of starting franchise operations: 2001

Year of inception: 1997

Where do you see India’s education industry in 2020?

I think the coming years will be challenging and will see a bottoming out and consolidation phase in the pre-schooling business. The industry will probably see a tapering off the high growth that is presently witnessed and will look to mature via acquisitions and renewed focus towards the end customer. Those that are most in tuned with the pulse of the audience will be the most successful once again.

Thus, starting a preschool chain and running it successfully is no cup of tea. It requires dedication, passion and focus towards setting your goals and working tirelessly to fulfill it. The journey of EuroKids shows us how taking a franchisee of a good preschool can benefit us and make us grow both emotionally and financially.

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