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Jun, 10 2011

GRAB THEM BEFORE THEY GET SOLD AND OLD

In business, it is often said that crafting the right niche is a convincing formula for success. Businesses that are targeted at serving a particular need can count on steady sales sans any competition. That's why rather than investing in traditional fran

In business, it is often said that crafting the right niche is a convincing formula for success. Businesses that are targeted at serving a particular need can count on steady sales sans any competition. That's why rather than investing in traditional franchise concepts, entrepreneurs are discovering new niche concepts to target market share.

FRANCHISING is opening up new boulevards for entrepreneurs to disseminate novel and niche business services. Franchisors are trying hands at opportunities that are home-based, low in cost and require small space to operate.

Renting books and toys, photo servicing, pet shops and sports-based education programmes and other reasoning-related concept for overall child development are gradually finding space, offering multiple opportunities to housewives, working women, men, retired professionals and even graduates. The advantage is, marketing the brand name does not require much effort, as publishing on social media sites and word of mouth are reckoned to be the perfect options. Below are some of the handpicked concepts that are all set to rule investors' heart and their business.

Aiding education

SmartQ-beyond IQ:

A no-homework programme

What is more important to succeed in an interview than information and knowedge? It's communication skills and IQ level. Strongly believing in the same, Rajnikant Rao, Founder of SmartQ-beyond IQ, shares, “As a parent of two kids, we realised that our kids need to be exposed to knowledge abilities that go beyond the curriculum. We thought it would be great if we could introduce a programme that is unlike a subject in school and yet thoroughly enjoyed by children.” So they started SmartQ-beyond IQ, a no-homework programme wherein the child benefits by merely attending the sessions, where group dynamics are at play. The do-and-learn principles give the benefits to the kids.

SportyBeans: Sports-based play programme

In India, pre-schooling education is completely neglected, as most of the pre-schools focus more on providing the academic and hobby-based activities. To fill this need gap, Pune-based SportyBeans has come with an innovative sports-based play programme for pre-school and primary school children in the age bracket of 2.5 to eight years. The idea was conceptualised by Kapil Sareen when he wanted to enroll his son into sports-based activity but found that all available sporting activities were restricted to kids above the age group of seven years only. After conducting months of intensive research, he introduced the SportyBeans programme last year in January after importing child-safe equipment from five counties, forming a structured curriculum and hiring coaches and training them.

BrilArt: An experimental art programme

Started by four individuals with a passion for child development and human transformation, ELSA Learning Private Limited launched BrilArt, an experimental art programme, which nurtures the creativity in a child. The curriculum has been designed by experts in the field of art and craft, who have been working on it for the past two years. “BrilArt is an overall personality development programme for children using art as a medium. It is a low-cost franchise business model that is meant for housewives only,” informs Deepak Sadhvani, Sales Director, Elsa Learning Pvt Ltd.

Women-dominated field

Educationists prefer to partner with women entrepreneurs only and this is the only industry that beats the male dominance. Smart Q Beyond IQ believes that women are best suited for this business. They like to tie-up with educated housewives having a desire to teach and who can leverage their contacts in the place they live. The best part is  the starting investment is only Rs 25,000 only.

Renting is rising industry

If one can rent videos games or movies, then why not toys, books or phones? Sounds interesting? Yes, renting services are slowly and steadily crawling towards a nascent stage and acting as a boon for customers who don't wish to spend too much on costly items. When it comes to toys, the real fact that conquers parent's mind is  kids often lose interest. Apart from international markets, the awareness about toy renting business in India is catching up too, as it allows parents to rent toys for a specific time period by paying out a monthly fee. Also, toy renting service can be taken up by educational institutes, hospitals or corporate offices or any place that gets the frequent footfall of kids. If you're an entrepreneur who likes tiny tots, toy rental business is for you. In India, RentMeToy, Toys-on-rent and Planet Toyz are players that offer toy renting services. For instance, D. Malhotra, Director of RentMeToy, started the toy renting business with an investment of Rs 3 lakh.

Prior to getting into any business, extensive research is a must. Ritu Nagpal of Planet Toyz, a fun library, says, “During our research, we found a similar concept being used incountries like New Zealand, Australia and America, where even government is also funding them. But here in India, people are not much aware about the existence of toy libraries. Thus, to make it more beneficial, we have tried to give it a better shape by adding toys, games, CDs, learning aids along with books to give a common platform and a wider variety of the items for the learner.”

Talking about the roadblocks one faces while running this business, Prajakta Kapure of Toys-on-rent, says, “One of the most difficult tasks is to retain people for delivering toys and in a big city like Bengaluru, it gets difficult at times. I have had situations where I had to do toy delivery myself for a week but these are all interesting learning and now we have a good network to work out even if a person does not show up suddenly.”

Pet grooming

If you love the company of a four-legged creature/ companion and offering dog grooming services is your forte, then starting a pet care shop that act as a one-stop shop for all pet needs is the way to go. Earlier, the pet grooming services were preferred by celebrities only but as the concerns relating to maintaining pet's hygiene has become the need of the hour, there is a growing demand of pet-related services. To cater to the rising demand, the idea of specialised pet grooming was conceived by Irene James, who started with a capital investment of Rs 8 lakh and formed a pet salon called Whiskers & Tails in Mumbai. Today, the company offers a wide range of services, including shampooing, blow drying, hair cutting and styling, nail trimming, ear cleaning, massaging and perfuming.

About challenges, Irene James, Founder, Whiskers & Tails, states, “Well, people still think pet grooming is a luxury. This is not a challenge as such but we are focusing on educating them and encouraging them to use our services to know the difference (before and after grooming).”

Click & earn

Offering a photo-related service is another domain where starters can try their hands. Zoomin.com offers an online service that enables customers to share, store and print their digital photos, easily and conveniently. Sunny Balijepali, Founder & CEO, Zoomin.com, believes, “Ensuring consistent customer experience is a key challenge. We ensure that the franchisee and his staff are adequately trained to make sure that the experience in stores is consistent. What we are looking for are committed franchises, who are extremely customer-centric and are able to understand the customer needs better. It has been very encouraging to note that more than 50 per cent of the franchise enquiries are from women.”

Gifts & collectibles distributor

Being an exclusive distributor of hi-end crystal brand from Sweden, Bhavika Collections is a one stop shop that allows consumers to order gifts and collectibles from various artists around the world. It also offers a low cost franchise opportunity to the entrepreneurs, who look for second-income options.

Innovate & renovate

The opportunity is right here knocking at your door with bountiful returns in hand. If you've got a novel idea, then it's the right time to explore new ways to initiate business with low investment and high returns.  It's just that one needs to discover the idea that intends to serve the needs of the niche category.

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