Starkids is a ground-breaking initiative by one of Eastern India's leading Education Groups, Apex Knowledge Group. It's Managing Director, Nirmal Agarwal, a graduate from Stanford University, US, in a one-to-one conversation with Amanpreet Kaur talks abou
Throw some light on Starkids’ inception.
We started Starkids in 2007 in Kolkata. We have been running a college for the last 10 years and while taking inquiries from students for graduation and post graduation studies, we realised their time of mental development is almost over. So, it becomes very difficult for us to change the way they are and the mindset they have acquired. When we did a research on this, we discovered that a major part of the child's potential to learn or what we term as mature intelligence, develops by the time the child is eight. So, it is the most important time for them to be given the proper intervention to develop their mental faculties and life skills. That is how we got the idea of starting Starkids and offering these innovative enrichment programmes for child development, so that we can make the difference directly in the initial years. These programmes are being offered in addition to the preschool programmes we run at our centres.
What encouraged you to get started with franchising? How much expansion are you looking at?
Though we have been thinking about taking up the franchise route for a while but we wanted to finetune everything at the ground level with our own centres before getting started with franchising. We took the franchise route because it is the best way for us to partner with other entrepreneurs and grow together with a common vision.
How do you ensure standardisation at your franchise outlets?
We have formulated standardised infrastructure, delivery methodology, systems and processes for all our franchisees. The training provided ensures a common ground for each individual and enables them to deliver the course with the same vision and quality. The curriculum is well documented along with all lesson plans and facilitators have a ready reckoner and detailed description of how to handle classes. The reporting mechanism in place also enables us to monitor any deviations.
What kind of training and support do you provide to the franchisee and his staff?
We give complete hand-holding to the franchisees in terms of what they require. The required training will be given to the franchisees and their staff. We will help our franchisees in recruiting their staff and fitting them into the various roles at the centres. We even help our franchisees in finding suitable spaces and leasing out the site. The detailed operations manual and the lesson plans are excellent tools to ensure smooth operations at the centre.
What are your franchise requirements?
Depending on the city, the investment would range from Rs 6.5 lakh to 10 lakh with an area of 1,500 sq.ft, preferably on the ground floor. The location should be a secure residential area, preferably with an open play area.
How many centres are you planning by the end of this fiscal year?
We are targeting 20 franchise centres within the next one year. This expansion will be followed by another target of taking the count to 100 centres in the next three years and 250 franchise centres in the next five years. We would like to reach out to the major tier I and II cities in the first phase and then move onwards from there.