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Footprints Aspires To Be Largest Daycare Services Firm

The daycare market in India is estimated to be Rs 13,000 crore and growing at a rate of 26 per cent per year

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An engineering graduate from IIT-Delhi, Raj Singhal is CEO of Footprints. He spoke to BW Businessworld about his hybrid model of daycare chain and the challenges before this nascent industry catering to pre-school children.

Excerpts:

What are your expansion plans?
Footprints is looking to be the largest daycare and pre-school player in India by 2020, serving 100,000 kids across 2,000 centers. In next year or so we are looking to be the largest player in Delhi-NCR region by having 50 centers. In order to achieve our plans, we will look to raise $10 million to $15 million after a year or so. Most of these centers would be in what we call as Hybrid Franchise Model.

How many fully functional centres do you have now and what is your total strength?
Currently we are running eight schools, of which five company-operated centers are in Gurgaon and one in Noida. We have one franchise-run centers each in Noida and Indirapuram as well. We have signed up 6 new partners and are launching these new centers by May 2016. The firm has maintained an all-women staff, keeping in mind the comfort of small kids. Footprints has around 700 kids and for every six of them we have engaged one female teacher/caretaker.

Why are you moving from franchise to hybrid model?
Current pre-school or daycare franchise market is in bad shape. Parents are not getting quality that they are craving for, franchises are not earning enough money to provide quality. Franchisors are not taking any responsibility of quality and admissions for franchise, they are only looking to sell franchise and sell student kits. So, the whole eco-system is not working for anybody.

We have launched a Hybrid model where Footprints (Franchisor) takes full responsibility of admissions, all back-end support, customer support, curriculum and training. Our financial model is also designed in a way where Footprints only starts making money once franchise starts earning.

How important or big child daycare has become?
Daycare market is Rs 13,000 crore and growing at 26 per cent CAGR. Out of this 30 per cent market is franchised market and its share is constantly increasing.

Which are going to be your focus area in terms of expansions?
In term of expansion our focus area would be to expand in entire Delhi-NCR area. In addition, we are planning to open more centers as we are striving to become the biggest day care center in Delhi-NCR. We aim at acquiring small day care center under one umbrella of Footprints.

Your biggest challenges would be?
The biggest challenge is untrained staff. Daycare being a relatively new phenomenon in India, there are no certification, diploma for childcare that exists right now. There are hardly any trained or experience staff available as well.

For expansion you also need staff, how many jobs are you going to create with it?
We typically employ 1 staff for every 6 children, so in next 5 years, we will end up creating more than 10,000 jobs.

What is your current staff strength?

Currently Footprints have a strength of 100 staff.

Are you in talks for another round of funding. If yes, with whom?
We are just raising a bridge round for our existing HNI investors.


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