Children’s extra-curricular education franchise brands have skyrocketed in popularity over the last 10 years or so. The changing nature of the future of work has awakened many parents to the notion that the skills they learnt in their childhood will be insufficient when their children are entering the workforce.
Public education is trying to keep up, but brands like Junior Einsteins are able to both inculcate a love for STEM subjects that will dominate well-paying jobs in the future, as well as educating the younger generation about scientific concepts.
We spoke to Tracey-Jane Cassidy, the passionate founder and CEO of Junior Einsteins Science Club, to learn more about the brand’s genesis and what it looks for in franchisees.
RP: How has Junior Einsteins grown since you founded the brand in 2014?
TJC: I started the business myself in Dublin, Ireland, all those years ago. I’m a mum of three small children, and I happen to have two master’s degrees in science in medical microbiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and from Trinity College Dublin in natural science.
I realized when my children were small that they weren’t doing enough science, and so I started to go into local schools with a box of experiments. Within three weeks, I ended up having to hire someone to help me. From there, we ended up having a team working out of my house, and then having to move out of my house because we grew so fast. Gradually, we evolved into other counties within Ireland, and we were absolutely inundated with inquiries.
I thought the quality would suffer if everyone wasn’t like me. How do I clone myself; I need someone who is passionate about science, enjoys working with children, really cares about education, and will work as hard as I do. I need other business owners; therefore, franchising was the obvious route.
We now have seven franchises between Ireland and the U.K. We’re currently bringing on three more and we’re going into Abu Dhabi and Croatia.
RP: The focus of education seems to have changed somewhat over the past few years, with an emphasis on the skills that will be needed in future workplaces. Do you feel that this is reflected when you speak to parents?
TJC: Yes, absolutely. But one thing that really draws the parents to us is the fact that we are hands-on interactive and we’re not all about screens. So, we’re very different from the children logging onto a screen and doing something in robotics or coding. We’re also very broad.
The children come in and they analyze forensic crime scenes or experiment with marine biology. They’re learning about quantum physics through shooting Nerf guns. In our summer camps, if a child is really into chemistry, they’re going to get a bit of chemistry. But if they’re really into marine biology, they’re going to get that too.
They’re doing rocket races, bug hunts, we’re teaching them how Bernoulli’s principle affects where works and how planes fly. There’s no area of science that we don’t touch on.
RP: After-school classes and tuition have always been popular with parents across the entirety of Asia, are there any specific regions in Asia that you would like to bring the brand to?
TJC: All of them! There are no limits with Junior Einsteins. We know from our own research and speaking to many countries across the globe, that this translates perfectly well into all of them. Parents want their children doing things that are fun. If that’s also educational, it’s a huge bonus.
We certainly have a lot of interest in our franchise offering from the Middle East and Asia in general, and we would be very keen to move into these markets over the next six to 12 months.
“We certainly have a lot of interest in our franchise offering from the Middle East and Asia in general, and we would be very keen to move into these markets over the next six to 12 months”
We probably get two or three franchise inquiries a day from all over the world. If that person is just looking at it as an income stream, that’s fine, but they have to have a passion for education and science.
RP: The STEM education franchise space has no shortage of brands, with more appearing every week. How do you differentiate yourself in the market and maintain what makes you unique?
TJC: Firstly, it’s the broadness of our curriculum, a lot of businesses that would be considered competitors, or similar to ours, they seem to be very focused on one area of STEM. I’ve sent my children to every possible camp to check out what everyone’s doing!
A lot of them seem very chemistry-based, whereas we’re much broader, which makes our franchise offering and training a bit heavier. It’s probably a bit more effort, but the reward is bigger. We’re hugely in demand in comparison to our competitors, because our offering is so broad.
What really draws people to us, and what differentiates us, is the name; we are completely child-centric. The children are the junior Einsteins, they’re the ones who say, ‘I am a junior Einstein’, they get stickers to say ‘I am a junior Einstein’.
And the name Junior Einsteins is so special. Obviously, we have permission to use it, which I think is very valuable and special. It does jump out to parents.
RP: What kind of businessperson performs well in the education space, and what do you look out for when hunting for franchisees?
TJC: What we have discovered is really interesting, and we’ve changed very much what we look for now from when we started franchising. From our experience, scientists make brilliant business people.
Scientists do well in business because they like to follow our instructions, they like to follow our procedures, our protocols and manuals. Teachers are also brilliant and make for good franchise owners.
Interestingly enough, people with a strong sales and marketing background who see the value in what we do, and are passionate about science and education for young children, also do very well. So, if people are a combination of all or any of these traits, so a business person, with no science or education background, can do brilliantly with this, because of our training and what we offer our franchisees.