10 emerging leaders in franchising to watch out for in 2022 | Global Franchise
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10 emerging leaders in franchising to watch out for in 2022


10 emerging leaders in franchising to watch out for in 2022

The force is strong in franchising as it continues to attract the best and brightest into the model. Here are ten franchise leaders to watch out for in 2022

Virtually any concept can be franchised, and more people are learning this every year. Franchising presents an excellent and efficient way to grow a brand – without sinking a vast amount of capital into a project with no evidence of previous success. Instead, brands seek out eager yet savvy would-be business owners to invest some of their own funds, and their hard work into making a new location work out. 

Alongside the eight global franchise brands that only began franchising since 2017, we also have two domestic brands on the list that are growing at an impressive pace, and could well be global franchise brands when we come to put the next list together! 

1. Michael Browning Jr. 

Michael Browning is the founder and CEO of Unleashed Brands, the youth-focused platform of brands. The Unleashed family of brands consists of Urban Air Adventure Park, Snapology, The Little Gym, Premier Martial Arts, Class 101 and the recently acquired XP League. 

He has led his brands to success – barely a month goes by without an Unleashed brand signing a deal to expand into a new territory, or the platform acquiring another kid-focused brand. Browning himself has been recognized as a leader in the franchise community, and was elected to serve on the board of the International Franchise Association.  

Prior to co-founding Urban Air Adventure Park, Browning formed the successful data analytics firm, Phoebos Partners, in which he learned a lot of lessons as an entrepreneur that he now applies every day. 

The platform was born when Urban Air Adventure Park acquired Snapology to form Unleashed Brands, to provide kids with both entertainment and education. Unleashed has stuck to its remit, and is focused on enriching children’s lives. 

2. Rebecca Newenham

Rebecca Newenham founded the virtual agency brand – Get Ahead VA, in 2010. The franchise provides a wide range of services for its clients, including database management, bookkeeping, design assistance, social media management and even answering phone calls. 

Newenham enjoyed her career as a corporate buyer for the likes of Superdrug and Sainsbury’s, but felt a change was needed when she had her three daughters, she wanted a slower pace to her life. She spotted the gap for virtual assistants when researching potential business options, went on a training course and started the Get Ahead VA brand.  

The brand now has over 10 locations and has even set up shop on the distant shores of Australia. 

Get Ahead VA’s position in the market, and international presence speaks to a highly competent and ambitious leader. To pivot from a corporate career in buying to successfully running a global virtual agency franchise in a remarkable achievement, and one that should inspire nine-to-five employees the world over. 

3. Ruth Agbaji 

Ruth Agbaji is the founder and CEO of Code Wiz, a children’s coding education franchise brand. It offers its students highly customizable plans in a student-driven style of teaching. The brand is meeting the growing demand for computer skills amongst children, who will undoubtedly need these skills when they enter the workplace. 

Agbaji’s story is inspirational. Despite her parents being educated and growing up middle-class in Nigeria, she still had to contend with spotty electricity supply, a lack of running water and most worryingly, the threat of religious violence; she didn’t even feel safe to venture out of the house on Fridays. It was in this environment that she began studying electrical engineering. She was uninspired by her course, and thought she could do something different and better. 

She took on a number of roles after her time in college, including with Microsoft. Eventually, Agbaji wanted to start her own business and successfully launched Code Wiz, and partnered with Tutor Doctor to offer its services to Tutor Doctor’s students. It was such a great success, that Tutor Doctor acquired the Code Wiz brand, and she has stayed on since. 

Agbaji is a true inspiration, and an example of what a leader can accomplish with perseverance and belief. 

4. Felicity Curin

Felicity Curin is the co-founder, co-CEO, chief operating officer (COO) and director of Little Kitchen Academy, the Montessori-inspired cooking academy for children aged between three through teenage years. The brand seeks to develop independent young minds by introducing them to cooking, and teaching them to make healthy decisions. 

Beyond the cooking skills taught, children learn to be independent, refine their senses and create a foundation for living a healthy lifestyle. It does this in an environment which children look forward to, and is carefully managed so it’s as safe as possible. 

Curin herself is known as a culinary genius, and has a positive track record in getting children to eat things they previously didn’t like. She has a knack for franchising, and spent 11 years with Earl’s Restaurants, turning around individual locations to profitability. After working for herself for a few years, Curin and her husband, Brian, launched Little Kitchen Academy in 2018. 

Curin is a one-woman army, she oversees all operational aspects of the business, including human resources, training, unit-level operations, franchisee support, program development, and is the key inspirational figure behind the brand. 

5. Allison and Ivan Chavez 

Franchising has been a family business for years. Allison and Ivan Chavez exemplify that, as the co-founders of Sweet Paris Crêperie, a creperie brand that focuses on sweet and savory crepes, waffles, salads, hot drinks and more. The brand was founded in 2012 in Texas, but began franchising since 2017. 

The story behind the brand is as sweet as its crepes; the young couple was unable to find satisfactory crepes for a date while they were in Houston. So, on the night, Ivan bought all the ingredients necessary to make them at home, burning a few before he made a proper one.  

Both were struck by the low cost of making a crepe, and the potential to sell it ‘as a beautiful French burrito’ was planted in their minds. 

The couple first saturated their home market of Texas, citing the desire to create strong brand awareness and a feeling of being a ‘fan favorite’ before venturing into new territories. This is a brand that provides a strong dining experience, while introducing people to a new food that many will have never tried. 

6. Jay Melamed 

Many franchise concepts were born in the pandemic, but Jay Melamed’s XP League is one of the real success stories. As more and more young children see gamers as their heroes in lieu of more traditional ones, the eSports market is one that can only grow. 

Prior to founding the brand, Melamed sold his highly successful energy efficiency and insulation start-up as well as serving as regional vice president with a publicly-traded business consolidator.  

He founded the brand in June 2020, began franchising in September of the same year and in April 2022, has sold the franchise to Unleashed Brands. Melamed sold a brand that was present in 12 states across the U.S. and in Canada. 

The short time from foundation, to selling franchises and to eventually being acquired by a larger platform company demonstrates the quality of leadership skills Melamed possesses to grow a brand from nothing to global in such a short space of time. 

7. Jonathan Almanzar 

Jonathan Almanzar is the co-founder and CEO of Chick’nCone, a truly unique QSR concept that is centered around serving breaded chicken strips in waffle cones. The brand has created an entirely new category of highly Instagrammable food, and most importantly, is a franchise-ready model. 

The brand began with humble origins in 2014 as a simple food truck, plying the streets of Bangor, Pennsylvannia, but its popularity soon saw it move into fixed premises. The small footprint required by the brand means that it is suitable for a variety of franchisees and locations. The simple nature of the menu makes it easy to scale, and provides space for the brand to add new items to the menu. The brand currently sits at six units, with its first global location in Sharjah, and another coming in Toronto soon. 

This represents everything a franchise brand needs to grow: the creation of an exciting new category, a social-media-friendly product, a small footprint and relatively simple operations. This is the type of brand that could easily become a global phenomenon. 

8. Richard Chambers

Richard Chambers is the founder and CEO of Get a Drip, a franchise brand that hooks customers up to intravenous drips. The drips send essential vitamins and nutrients directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gut and increasing their bioavailability. 

The brand was born in 2017 after its founder, Richard Chambers, suffered from health complications as a result of his type 1 diabetes. He tried IV drips and found it provided him with a sense of rejuvenation, and wondered why this wasn’t accessible to others.  

The drip replenishes energy levels, boosts the immune system, removes toxins and generally optimizes day-to-day wellbeing, according to the brand. Since launching in 2017, the brand has administered 35,000 treatments, and currently operates in five locations. The founder has spelled out his ambitious plans to open up to 12 international locations with its franchisees.  

Chambers has the brand and knowledge to grow Get a Drip’s international presence, and as drip treatments become more commonplace, this will be one of major brand’s that will benefit. 

9. U.S. domestic pick – Josh Skolnick and Zachery Beutler 

Josh Skolnick and Zachery Beutler are both co-founder of Horsepower Brands, a home services franchisor. Skolnick occupies the role of CEO, while Beutler is the chief developmental officer (CDO) for Horsepower. The pair had their own experiences with franchising; and they didn’t lead to direct success. 

But they did learn a lot from their experiences, and they used it to form Horsepower Brands. They both ‘failed’ in their own words, but soon realized that the lack of accountability and support was an issue in the industry, and one they could fix.  

Horsepower Brands has the likes of Mighty Dog Roofing, Blingle, Franchise Rocket, iFoam and Heroes Lawn Care in its portfolio of home service brands. The biggest brand, Mighty Dog Roofing, was acquired in April 2021, and since then, has awarded over 40 locations. 

This franchising duo have the means, know-how and drive to become an international brand. 

10. Canadian domestic pick – James McInnes 

James McInnes is the co-founder and CEO of Odd Burger, the publicly-listed Canadian vegan burger food brand with six locations to its name, and plenty more franchise agreements. The brand recently signed a mammoth deal for 36 locations across Alberta and British Columbia. Odd Burger began franchising in 2020. 

The vegan food category is growing exponentially – from fast-food restaurants to Michelin-starred eateries. It takes a leader to see this, and create an entire brand around it in a field where others have not gone so far. Not only has McInnes built the brand with his wife, but he has taken the company public and in the space of two years, but he has opened seven restaurants, with a further five already under construction. 

QSR brands have high ceilings, and as one of the first vegan burger brands to go public, Odd Burger has a lot of momentum and high-quality leadership behind it. It would be surprising to not see the brand foray south into the U.S. at some point next year, or the year after. 

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