last updated 26/06/2020
last updated 26/06/2020
Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres teach kids both teamwork and independence
When Deepa Patel’s daughter came home from school asking for help with Microsoft PowerPoint, she had no idea that it would lead to Deepa opening her own Scratchpad Technology Learning Centre seven years later.
‘I worked in a kindergarten office and was always the person people came to for help with their computers. One day my daughter asked me to help her and a few friends with a presentation, and I ended up running an after-school club. Students would play with the features of the programs they used in class every day, sharing skills and discovering what they could really do with this technology.
‘The satisfaction of seeing those students get it was something I really enjoyed and wanted to find again. I was looking for a change and opportunity where I can make a difference. The moment I saw Scratchpad in Franchise New Zealand magazine, I was excited and arranged to meet Vijesh Nangia, the founder. As soon as I stepped into a Scratchpad centre and felt the energy from the students, I knew this was it.’
Free the imagination
Scratchpad isn’t about teaching students how to complete set tasks – it’s about giving them the tools to make technology do whatever they can imagine. Vijesh built the programme on the philosophy that people can learn to create with technology, rather than just consuming it, and this constant exploration keeps things fresh for franchisees, staff and students alike.
Since the first centre opened in 2015, Scratchpad has grown to five dedicated centres in Auckland delivering after-school, holiday and weekend classes. There’s also a popular online learning programme, so students can get started on the journey even before a local centre is established. ‘That means that we have people already familiar with Scratchpad around the country, so we want to open more centres with franchisees like Deepa,’ says Vijesh.
‘There are basic courses which equip students with the tools they need, but the direction their learning takes after that is up to them. With things like robotics, 3D printing and Minecraft mods all available, they’re limited only by their imaginations.’
Deepa agrees. ‘In classes, we’re all learning constantly, brainstorming ideas and trying all sorts of wacky things. I get to be a part of the learning too, as do my tutors, and the kids often work together on projects or ask each other for help so there’s a lot of teamwork going on.’
That applies to the franchise network, too. ‘All the centres are very supportive and approachable; it’s really valuable to have that network of franchisees and open communication. Of course we all make mistakes as we go along – but we learn a lot faster when we can learn from each other, too.’
Learning the business
Looking back, Deepa admits, ‘I’d never been involved in franchising, so I had to do a lot of research – it is hard work! Talking to Vijesh and the other franchisees was very helpful, and he encouraged me to look at franchise.co.nz to learn which questions I needed to ask and to do my own research before jumping in.
‘The training was very thorough but didn’t feel like a crash course – the processes were all set up so I could do large parts of it at my own pace and feel really solid in what I knew by the time we were ready to go. There was great one-on-one training in the office and going into different centres to see how they run, too.
‘Of course, establishing any new business is a big commitment and you do have to put everything into it to start off. The whole family was in the centre over those first few weeks, but I could always see the potential for taking a step back once we had a good, reliable team in place, and we’re getting there.
‘My favourite thing about Scratchpad is that there is no age limit to learning – we have parents who want to learn about their kids’ hobbies or homework and I would love to get senior citizens involved, too. We take it for granted that most people know how to do basic things on a device, but it’s never too late to learn more.’
Profitable and rewarding
Vijesh 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 we provide 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 nerd – it’s about innovation, learning and helping the kids develop life skills. If you enjoy working in an innovative, exciting industry, are comfortable with technology and like working with kids, Scratchpad has opportunities throughout the country. Contact us and find out more.’
And Deepa says, ‘The most rewarding part of the work is hearing a kid say proudly, “I did it, and I didn’t need your help this time, I figured it out on my own.” Seeing those smiles makes every day worth it.’
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