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Sep, 07 2011

Small wonders big returns!

With many international brands making a beeline to launch their unique concepts in the Indian market, the kids franchise industry, too, is gearing up for action.

IN today's competitive world, all-round development of a child is a primary concern of every parent. It's important that GenNext is prepared well to handle the future challenges. To ensure an upbringing befitting the present era, savvy parents are readily accessing additional systems that go beyond the realms of the conventional education. As it is rightly said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Therefore, growing demand for systems and services that can nurture childhood by laying a strong foundation for the bright future has prompted numerous franchisors to launch their unique concepts for children in India.

Widening horizons

Early childhood development sector is highly unorganised in India and often lacks a uniform curriculum and quality infrastructure. Gauging the enormous scope of booming kids franchise industry, many foreign players are bringing in their concepts to the Indian market. Further, as per the estimates for 2011, young population in the age group 0 to14 constitutes nearly 29.7 per cent of the 1.21 billion Indian population. Undoubtedly, this sizable young population offers an attractive market for the international brands, making an Indian foray. The growth in this sector can also be attributed to factors like rising trend of nuclear families, emphasis by child experts on the need for all round development of children and parents are willing to spend on such services. Moreover, the child-centered businesses are much in demand because parents want nothing other than best products and services for their children.

Reaping franchise benefits

As franchising is fast becoming a preferred business model for spreading a business, children franchise industry is also poised for high growth trajectory. An aspiring entrepreneur who enjoys working with kids can opt for kids franchise. Services like imparting life skills and ensuring well-being of kids will find many takers in any community. So, there is a big market out there to be tapped! There are diverse options available such as child care, education, fitness and gym, entertainment, tutoring business and many more. Also, factors like steady and regular market, standard work hours and a recession-proof business may lure an entrepreneur to consider ownership of these ventures.

Unique concepts at a glance

Selecting a right opportunity can be an overwhelming task for an investor. The prospective franchisee may explore these unique yet potentially lucrative international concepts.

Kidproof Safety: The child-safety education franchise with its headquarters in Canada has a low-cost and home-based business model. The programme offers a series of 19 child-safety education courses, covering a wide range of subjects such as internet safety, bullying, home/playground/school safety, what kids should do if they are lost, drug and alcohol awareness, conflict resolution etc. Samantha Wilson, President, Kidproof Group, says: “We solve a fundamental human need to be safe. Our goal is to keep children safe around the world. With proactive and preventative child-safety education, we can make a difference and save lives.” Moreover, the programme is flexible enough to suit the Indian sensibilities. Wilson adds: “Child-safety can be a personal subject and many cultures have different norms and social structure.” It can be a lucrative option for those, who like to build and grow a successful business that provides a chance to reciprocate to their communities.

Kinderdance: Kinderdance programme seeks to catalyse creative aspects of mind and body of a child by combining education concepts with various forms of movement i.e. dance and gymnastics. It stresses upon developing self-esteem and social skills among kids by boosting their motor skills, movement creativity, fitness and body awareness. It also endeavours to 'fight against child obesity'. Krithana Ramarapu, Executive Director, Kinderdance India, shares: “At Kinderdance, we foster creativity, pour in endless knowledge and we keep learning. Apart from business, it's a huge responsibility we behold as we nurture the most vital and fruitful part in the development of creativity in an individual.”

On the issue of customisation of the Kinderdance model for Indian market, Ramarapu says: “Being a proven 32-year-old concept in the US and worldwide, it didn't need any change, but we did change the business model to suit the Indian market in terms of adding it to school curriculum, as children have a long day at school and are tired for after-school activities.” Hallmarked by factors like low capital requirement, flexi working hours, the concept can be potentially a rewarding venture for aspiring franchisees.

KidzArt: An innovative US-based concept teaches art while entertaining students. It lets kids flex their “creative muscles” and in the process build confidence, patience, problem solvers and develop focused attention through guided exercises. Sue Bartman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), KidzArt, says: “KidzArt helps to create 'winners' and ultimately the 'innovators' of tomorrow!” Local elements are also being incorporated in the programme offerings as Bartman shares: “We are learning different styles of Indian art, including Warli paintings, Tanjore paintings, Madhubani paintings, Indian folk paintings, rangoli art etc. We are also considering artworks for famous Indian festivals and now understand more about Indian parents' expectations.”

Investment in the KidzArt franchise can be highly rewarding, as the clientele for this programme may include children as well as educational institutions.

Pop Languages: The USP of this French concept is its musical, artistic and multi-sensory approach by which children can discover and master different languages. At Pop Languages, children learn by listening and singing songs, especially written and supported by activities, including acting and drawing. Explaining about how the concept found its way to the Indian market, Michele-Marie Dupire of Pop languages said when she presented a programme in Vancouver, Canada, a year ago, Indians showed a lot of interest and felt it would be a great way for children to learn English. She said: “Ours is a rewarding business both in terms of profitability and personal satisfaction, as one witnesses enthusiasm among children.” The concept is being launched in India without much modification. Michele-Marie further informs: “As I discovered people in India liked music and fun so much that there was no need to customise our programme.” An entrepreneur looking out for a venture combined with work and pleasure can explore this musically inspired business opportunity.

Pingu's English: Designed by the UK-based Linguaphone Group, which has been a part of the language training market for 109 years, the three-level course is inspired by a popular animated television character, Pingu. It teaches English skills to children in the age group of 3 to 7 and above, in an exciting way. Derek Price, CEO, Linguaphone Group, says: “Linguaphone Group has already seen a huge popularity in India even before its launch. Indian parents recognise that learning English is essential for a child's education and future and thus we foresee bright prospects for Pingu's English in India.” Also, on the need of adaptation, Price further says: “Pingu's English is a complete learning system and as such the methodology doesn't need to be tailored for the Indian market. However, our Master Licensee Early Learners Edu Services will be perfectly placed to tailor the parent and teachers' support material to best suit the requirements of the Indian market.” English training market holds huge potential for aspiring entrepreneurs and they can easily capitalise on this rewarding business opportunity.

Opportunities galore

As these concepts seek expansion in India, there lies an opportunity for individuals and businesses to partner with them and be a part of their success story. Kidproof Safety, all set to be launched in India, is looking out for master franchisees, licensing or distribution partners. Bengaluru-based Learning Parachute India Pvt. Ltd, Master Franchise and Area Developer for Kinderdance International Inc, is eyeing expansion in around 15 major cities across India like Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Lucknow, Kolkata, Goa etc. The brand will also be targeting top 10 schools in every major city in which the programme will be offered as a part of their curriculum. Kinderdance has already been launched in Pune, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

With its sole multiple units franchise in Mumbai KidzArt is ready to roll-out the master, area development and single unit franchisees on pan-India basis. Looking for three master franchisees for North & East, West and South locations in India, Pop Languages will directly recruit unit franchisees in case any territory remains vacant. Pingu's English has recently forayed into India via licensing agreement. Brand's Indian Master Licensee Early Learners Edu Services Pvt. Ltd will roll-out the concept later this year through their chain of premium pre-schools and day care learning centres in Hyderabad and Secunderabad. It will also be offering state and unit licenses for local entrepreneurs to develop the brand in their own towns and cities.

Bottom line

It is worth to note that international brands have pioneered many proven and globally accepted children franchise systems. These international concepts bequeath interested entrepreneurs with potential opportunities to leverage their brand equity and replicate their success. However, detail research to select the right opportunity that matches one's interest and business objectives is equally important. Therefore, if one has the zeal to work with kids and a desire to give something back to the society and is seeking a high-profit low-risk venture, then owning a kids franchise business can be an excellent choice!

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