Business Profiles

by Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres

last updated 30/03/2020

Creating New Futures

by Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres

last updated 30/03/2020

Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres help kids learn technical and life skills

When Kirsty Gainfort was at school, the only computer skills taught were touch typing and how to use Microsoft Word. Now, she’s looking forward to her toddler being old enough to learn how to build, create and use technology as an outlet for his imagination.

‘If I’d had access to something like Scratchpad when I was young, I might have found my passion much earlier,’ she says.

Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres was founded by Vijesh Nangia in 2015 as a place for children to learn coding, robotics and 3D printing while developing life skills in collaboration, problem solving and creative thinking. Now in its third year as a franchise, Scratchpad has five centres up and running, with plans to continue its national expansion. Vijesh says, ‘Through our online courses we have students in all corners of the country, and we can see where there is demand. Scratchpad is growing and it’s an exciting time to become part of it.’

Changing direction

The series of events that led Kirsty to becoming part-owner of the Albany franchise was triggered when she bought a kit to build a speaker and discovered that she loved electronics. ‘I’d been working in events and PR, so I followed my new passion and went back to do a computer and electrical engineering degree.’

Studying while pregnant, Kirsty’s part-time cleaning job saw her meet Lynette, who was just about to open Scratchpad Botany. ‘I was cleaning her shower and she pretty much offered me a job on the spot,’ Kirsty laughs. ‘I worked there part-time until my son turned one, then accepted the manager role before buying into Scratchpad Albany in April 2019.

‘Having been here since the beginning, I was already very personally invested in it. Making a financial investment too was a big commitment, but I understood the business well, had seen the level of support coming from the franchisor and had confidence in the model. Building a business isn’t some fairy-tale way to make lots of money straight away – it’s hard work and that’s what makes it rewarding – but with a good franchise system to follow, you’re less likely to make costly mistakes.’

Creative expression

The Scratchpad philosophy is to teach the next generation to use technology as a tool to create, not just consume. The company runs after-school, weekend and holiday programmes for kids of all ages in dedicated premises, as well as online, at-home and even parent-and-child learning. All programmes are able to be tailored to the learner’s interests over time, so they never run out of things to do. ‘I love how many different options there are,’ Kirsty says. ‘Our learners can try a little bit of everything, dive in deeper when they find their passion, and we can create a course to suit.’

Walking the talk, the Scratchpad team is full of innovators who are always thinking ahead and asking what’s next. ‘Usually the franchisor’s team of experts creates our programmes, but if I have an idea they let me run with it and see where it goes.’ Through this, Kirsty has had the chance to develop a robotics course for a nearby school. ‘They gave me a brief, told me the budget and key elements they wanted covered, and gave me the licence to create. The kids don’t get to have all the fun!’

Developing new talent

Kirsty says the most rewarding part of her business is working with kids as they grow and develop their abilities. ‘There’s such a wide range of students, but a lot of them are the kind of kids that were never interested in sports, who have found their place here and learned to develop team skills with other like-minded friends, which is pretty special. I especially love helping teenage girls to find what they love and guiding them into traditionally male-dominated career fields.’

Kirsty grew up with a self-employed parent and wants to give her son the same. ‘Mum could always make it to my activities and concerts, and had the power to choose her hours around family time. I’m still managing the centre and working full-time now, but as the business owner I will be able to step back when the time is right and still have that long-term financial security. I’m lucky to be able to do what I love every day and I’m definitely looking at the idea of a second centre.’

Profitable model

Vijesh, who is a director in a leading IT consultancy and a parent himself, says, ‘Scratchpad offers a profitable business model developed by one of the country’s top franchise consultancies. A new franchise can be established for around $120,000 +gst and as well as full training there’s support with everything from finding the right site and recruiting tutors to managing payroll, online accounting, suppliers and marketing.

‘You don’t have to be a tech wiz - it’s as much about innovation, learning and helping the kids develop life skills as it is about the robots. If you enjoy working in an innovative, exciting industry, are comfortable with technology and like working with kids, Scratchpad could be the business for you.’

See this advertorial on page 98 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 28 Issue 4

Contact details for Scratchpad

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