In this Franchise Chatter Q&A, we get to learn more about Zaniac from its president and chief academic officer, Sidharth Oberoi.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you describe the Zaniac franchise concept and how it’s different from that of a traditional tutoring center?
Sidharth Oberoi (SO): Zaniac makes math, technology, and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields of study fun, helping K-8 kids become engaged, develop confidence, and measurably improve their academic performance.
We are unlike a traditional tutoring center because Zaniac is positioned in the enrichment space; we do not focus on repetition or drills, but rather help kids get ahead and develop a passion for lifelong learning.
Zaniac is a fun, colorful place where kids truly do not want to leave. Some students enjoy their time learning at Zaniac so much that they have their birthday parties at the campus.
FC: What sort of classes are offered at Zaniac?
SO: Students take courses in Computer Programming, 3D Printing, Fashion Design, and even learn physical and environmental sciences using the game Minecraft as a tool/resource, just to name a few.
In our new Architectural Design course, students are able to explore cities using Google Maps as a vehicle for interacting with urban planning and architecture. Through the 3D computer-aided design (CAD) software Tinkercad and Minecraft, students import structures into Minecraft, delve into design elements, and learn first-hand about city issues.
FC: What is your professional background?
SO: At the age of five, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor and I did everything in my power to make that happen. I registered for every advanced placement science and math class I could find, graduated high school at age 16, and enrolled in college that same year. I assisted in Anesthesiology and Doctor Residency Research and Publications and actively volunteered in hospitals, but soon found that my true calling was educating students.
As a college student at University of Utah in 2010, I tutored the children of Paul Zane Pilzer: economist, social entrepreneur, professor, and the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books. He was impressed with how quickly his children improved and surpassed the other students in class, and approached me about creating an after-school program that focused on fun, peer-based learning.
An engineer at heart, Paul taught me the importance of entrepreneurship and I helped him realize the potential that existed in after-school STEM enrichment. From there, we went into business together and launched Zaniac.
FC: Why is STEM education important right now?
SO: STEM skills are becoming integral to the workforce as technology expands and becomes a more focal point of economies across the world. By 2020, there will be a shortage of 3 million qualified workers in STEM fields. By incorporating STEM into Zaniac’s curriculum, our franchised campuses have been able to provide students with 21st century skills that are necessary for their futures.
Zaniac helps expose students to STEM skills at an early age, which is integral to building their confidence through primary education and beyond. Additionally, Zaniac provides amazing employment opportunities for high school honors students who have a knack for STEM, or college students that are majoring in STEM fields.
Regardless of whether or not students end up in a traditional STEM field, having a fundamental understanding of the technology involved in all aspects of 21st century professional life will provide a backbone for future success.
FC: Where is Zaniac growing?
SO: We currently have Zaniac campuses in Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah, in addition to franchises in Florida, Connecticut, and New York City. Campuses are under construction in the Boston area and in Southlake, TX as well.
We opened our first franchise in 2013 and we’re planning to reach 50 campuses by 2017.
FC: What technology do you have in place for franchisees?
SO: First and foremost, we have a state-of-the-art STEM curriculum that is our “secret sauce.” It is presented to students through a customized method that combines fun, peer-based learning and hands-on engagement with the latest technology.
Our proprietary online assessment-based approach demonstrates what a student already knows, and the improvements made after every class.
We also provide the Zaniac Campus Operating System, our turnkey, cloud-based solution that allows Zaniac franchisees and campus managers to concentrate on sales and improving their customers’ experience, rather than operational friction points such as scheduling and accounting.
FC: What is the investment to open a Zaniac campus?
SO: The total initial investment, including the franchise fee, averages $250,250. A full-size Zaniac campus is a 2,500 to 3,000 square-foot colorful retail space.