last updated 08/12/2019
last updated 08/12/2019
Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres teach young people vital skills – young franchisees, too
When Danielle Loyola applied for a job as manager at Scratchpad in Botany, she never imagined that just a couple of years later she and her wife Ibs would be opening their own centre on the other side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Danielle’s IT qualification, paired with eight years’ experience working in early childhood education, made her a great fit for the job and she enjoyed the work so much it wasn’t long before the pair were thinking of opening a franchise of their own.
Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres was created in 2015 to provide a safe environment for children to explore the potential of technology. Founder Vijesh Nangia, a director in a leading IT consultancy, wanted to give kids a place where they could learn to control computers and phones rather than be controlled by them.
Through regular after-school, weekend, school holiday and even virtual sessions, Scratchpad turns passion for technology into purpose, teaching children the foundations of coding, robotics, electronics and 3D design and printing. The concept quickly took off, with a pilot franchise operation designed by top franchise consultants opening two years later.
Building blocks for the future
‘Danielle and I both have backgrounds in IT, and loved the idea of getting kids involved in this side of computing,’ Ibs explains. ‘All students start with a foundation coding course, then follow their own path according to what most interests them. Technology is the future, and the way we see it coding will soon be one of the building blocks of a child’s basic education – as fundamental as reading or writing.
‘Becoming our own boss also really appealed to us, but the business itself had to be right,’ Ibs continues. ‘Both my brother and dad have been business owners for years, so we knew how challenging it could be. Scratchpad was the perfect fit – we really believed in the service, Danielle had first-hand experience of how a centre operates, and with the support of a strong franchise system we weren’t starting from scratch.
‘Getting a business off the ground is a bit like a runner’s high – that feeling people get from completing marathons. It’s hard work, but joining a franchise makes a huge difference. The name is already out there, you have existing programmes to offer, systems to follow and you’re not doing all the marketing yourself.’
Learning the business
In their early thirties, Ibs and Danielle are Scratchpad’s newest and youngest franchisees. Their Northcote centre has been open just 3 months and already has a roll of 80 regular students, putting them well on the way to financial success.
While Danielle knew Scratchpad well as an employee, as franchisees the personal stakes are higher and support from their franchisor has been key to getting their franchise off the ground. ‘I knew how to run the centre, but not a business,’ she explains. ‘We didn’t need the same level of operational training as most new franchisees, but we were given great support with the rest, learning everything from payroll and online accounting to suppliers and marketing.
‘We’ve worked closely with Vijesh to come up with reasonable, achievable goals and benchmarks to keep us on track. Our target is to have 380 kids on the roll eventually, so we’ve had a good start and we’re finding plenty of opportunities to build.’
Ibs is always seeking local marketing opportunities to boost their digital marketing efforts. ‘A lot of our students have come from schools we’ve worked with. We offer to run workshops for them, and in return get our name out in their newsletters and social media.’
Despite a full-time career elsewhere, Ibs spends a lot of time in the centre after school and on weekends so she doesn’t miss out on what makes Scratchpad special. ‘I’m on a first name basis with most of the students. Having that relationship, you can see what a difference we’re making in these young people’s lives. The expression on their faces when they get something right, or run to tell you they’ve solved the problem they’ve been working on, that’s the most rewarding thing about what we do.’
Scratchpad gives Danielle and Ibs flexibility for the future. ‘Our franchise is going to open opportunities we haven’t had before. Once we’re settled, I’ll become the more hands-on one so Danielle can follow her passion to study child psychology.’
Plenty of demand
Demand for Scratchpad’s courses is constantly increasing. There are now four Auckland centres, with nationwide demand creating opportunities to bring the successful concept to other parts of the country. ‘We run some online learning sessions, and registrations for virtual classes prove there are plenty of areas around New Zealand in which a local centre will thrive,’ says Vijesh. A new franchise can be established for around $120,000 +gst.
‘This is a great opportunity for someone who isn’t afraid of computers, enjoys working with children and wants to take control of their own life. We provide everything you need to get set up, from help with finding the right site to learning our proven systems and software.
‘If you’re looking for a serious business opportunity and are passionate about equipping the next generation with vital skills, give me a call.’
See this advertorial on page 25 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 28 Issue 3
Contact details for Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres
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