Bachpan: Going an Extra Mile by Providing Children Best Educational Experience

Ajay Gupta | CEO | Bachpan
Ajay Gupta | CEO | Bachpan

The educational space is filled with opportunities at various levels—pre-primary, formal school, and higher education segment in India and the world. However, India stands out of the crowd as it has nearly 580 million individuals in the age bracket of five to twenty-four years, out of which almost 250 million are school-going children. These facts and figures are not available in any country. There is much potential to transform the education segment regarding the reachability of good education and quality with technology. The industry is witnessing rapid growth with the advent of e-learning and technological advancement.

One school, which is transforming the way of education with quality and up-to-date teaching is Bachpan. Under the guidance of Mr. Ajay Gupta, the Founder, and CEO of the school, the organization is seeing promising growth. His sheer hard work and solid willpower have made Bachpan one of the top schools.

In an exclusive interview with Insights Success, Ajay enlightened us with the know-how of the education space. He also shares the functioning of Bachpan. Following are the highlights of the interview.

Please describe us about Bachpan. 

S.K Educations Pvt. Ltd. is a Delhi-based organization well-known for India’s two most premium franchisee educational brands—Bachpan in the playschool segment and Academic Heights Public School, i.e., AHPS in the K-12 detail. We are an educational service provider and allow our franchisees to sell our goods, services, or concepts for which all research, survey, and homework has been done for a long number of years.

Bachpan is a well-established playschool franchise brand that was founded back in 2004 and has grown to 1200 schools nationwide. We offer our children the most contemporary and concept-based education (underage group 2-5 years) with completely structured learning and the latest tech tools to break the monotony. We provide facilities that are considered at par with international standards and norms with no compromise in the quality of our pre-school standards.

In 2009, we launched the formal school brand Academic Heights Public School to extend the educational journey of Bachpanites and others into the K-12 segment. AHPS follows the NCERT and NCF curriculum and has 110+ branches spread across the country. So far, 50 schools have CBSE affiliations.

What motivated you to enter the education space?

I was motivated to enter the education space as education is one of the green field businesses and can transform lives with exemplary efforts. In the year 2002, when I had to start a new business, I contemplated a lot. Initially, I was about to open a tuition centre. But then I felt girls won’t join in the same number as boys and then whom will we teach. At that time, it was seen that half of the girls got married early, and the other half were not able to decide on a career for themselves.

This is when we decided to cater to the young audience in the age bracket of two-five years. The pre-primary segment had huge potential as every child in the early years required playschool as a steppingstone for pursuing formal school education. I take pride in the decision to start Bachpan in the playschool segment in 2004, which has grown to 1200 schools PAN India and serves more than 500000 children. Once motivated, I continued my educational journey and stepped into the formal school segment with AHPS and later in the higher education segment in education with Rishihood University.

What special offerings does Bachpan provides that makes it apart from others?

Bachpan playschool focuses on creating a fun-filled environment for children to foster their holistic development. After in-depth research and development, we provide special futuristic offerings that make us apart from others. Our children learn with tech tools like SpeakOKit, Tablets, Virtual Reality, and Robotics.

Bachpan is the first Pre School in India to launch SpeakOKit, which includes SpeakOBooks (fully mapped with curriculum) and a Speak-o-Pen. Similarly, we are the first school in India to introduce tab-based learning at home in the pre-primary segment with a complete mapping curriculum and books (Level I, II, and III).

Children learn through live VR journeys enriched with audio-visual experience giving them a wide range of edutainment. Sitting in a classroom, they travel to places using VR headgears. We make them formal school ready with technology in education. AHPS schools are equipped with the latest technology-based tools like Prismart-–digital learning for K-12, Think Exam, Robotime, and more.

Prismart is customized digital learning for K-12 that is fully mapped with our curriculum at the primary level. Robotime is an excellent curriculum-based introduction of robotics, which help children in the long run. In AHPS, we emphasize that children must be taught values and life skills besides academics; they must be given experiential learning and a platform to showcase talent and compete. AHPS schools participate on national platforms exclusively created for their students like AHPS Inter School Mega Competitions, Olympiad, Born to Win, and premium language learning drives through AWELI.

What kind of challenges have you faced while entering the pre-school franchising space?

We faced innumerable challenges while entering the pre-school franchising space, but we learnt to deal with them with time and even came up with permanent solutions. In the year 2004, when we started Bachpan, parents of children under two-five years did not accept playschools and were hesitant to send their young children away from home.

Since we had a presence in tier two and tier three cities, there were challenges in connecting with parents. There was no concept of school uniform in a few leading playschools of that time, so initially, parents did not accept school uniforms in Bachpan. The market was not ready with good educational resources for children to gain practical learning.

Other challenges we faced were the quality of set-up material available in the market and the skill gap in the community of teachers PAN India. Thus, we created awareness, developed our in-house R&D team to design and innovate interactive learning tools, and started our own furniture manufacturing unit. It was developed to introduce safe, bright, durable, and colourful modular furniture in schools considering the safety of children and quality factors.

How was Bachpan affected in these pandemic times, and what were the steps you took to curb the damages while helping your clients and maintaining the safety of your employees?

Yes, our organisation was also affected by the pandemic, but the effect was not adverse in our case. In Bachpan and AHPS, our vision has been far-sighted since its inception. Thus, our planning and preparedness are always focused on developing futuristic solutions for our stakeholder’s time to time so that they remain competitive, and students learn 21-century skills. Before pandemic, our inhouse edutech department by the name Prismart delivered seamless classroom and home-schooling solutions.

We were already testing our home-schooling product in Bachpan while the entire country went into complete lockdown. Our schools also closed physical operations as per the government guidelines. This was when we empowered our schools to start digital learning with a ready-to-implement homeschooling app. Within a year, more features/modules were added to the app. Online training sessions and events were conducted as per our regular training and events calendar for uninterrupted edutainment. These immediate measures and continuous guidance helped our network to continue operations online.

Considering the safety of employees, we chose to work remotely. We believe we will bounce back with more work, better initiatives, better long-term planning, better homework, and readiness in the interest of our stakeholders.

What would you like to advice the young generation of education enthusiasts who want to venture into the field of an educational franchise business?

Firstly, our young generation of education enthusiasts who want to venture into the field of educational franchise business (whether as franchisor or franchisee) must set minimum goals and follow a step-by-step approach. Keep patience to see the slow transformation and show commitment to increase your milestones one after other.

Secondly, future educational service providers must develop wide-ranging, age-appropriate, and most up-to-date educational material. Products, services, or concepts after in-depth research, survey, and homework. This is not all. With time, they need to improvise their offering as per their geographical presence and strive to meet the market’s needs, end-user, trends, and competition from time to time.

Thirdly, school leaders ought to remember that students (kindergarten and above) have to be future-ready and nurtured holistically to become thought leaders and change-makers who contribute to society positively. Thus, curriculum and teaching and learning methodologies must give digital competence, values, and 21st century skills apart from academic guidance. All above efforts require vision, consistent efforts, time, team, and budget. Plan wisely.

Where do you envision Bachpan in the long run, and what are your future goals? How do you plan to embrace the changes happening in pre-school education franchising space?

In the long run, I believe that our organisation and brand schools by the name Bachpan and Academic Heights Public Schools will grow 360 degrees. This means that our schools will increase in numbers, improve quality, and have exponential growth. Bachpan and AHPS will continue to cater to the educational needs of students on both online (LIVE) and offline platforms with better features/offering/new version and inventiveness.

The pre-school education franchising space is dynamic. We are planning to embrace the changes happening in the pre-school franchising space with a forward-looking attitude, continuous research, novel initiatives, market updates, innovativeness, team building, and strengthening of the existing support eco-system. This will help us to upgrade ourselves and our school leaders, who are our Brand partners. Moreover, our R&D team is committed to working incessantly towards continuous upgrades in curriculum, e-content, and following the latest industrial trends with technology to remain competitive in the long run.

We operate PAN India, and the requirements, understanding of people, pocket-size, trend, and competition vary with change in geography. So, some changes are to be dealt with as and when they come with customised solutions. However, it is normal for any industry to witness change with time and possibly face new challenges due to these evolving changes.

Dynamic Leader

Mr. Ajay Gupta is a self-driven serial entrepreneur based in Delhi with 34 years of business experience in diverse segments like Education, Edtech, Healthcare, FMCG, and Multimedia. He is the Founder and CEO of Bachpan playschool (estd. 2004), Founder and CEO of Academic Heights Public School (estd. 2009), and Co-founder of Rishihood University. Mr. Ajay Gupta is also a Business Coach and Writer by passion. He has had polio from nine months after birth and uses a wheelchair to travel from one place to another.

His Professional Tenure 

Back in the year 2002, Mr. Ajay had experience in franchising and was willing to step into the Education segment but had too many options like Coaching Institute, High end computer education, Fashion, Textile, and working in a kindergarten space. Finally, he chose to work in the pre-primary segment to nurture children between two-five years. Two years of hard work and complete homework gave birth to Bachpan play school in the year 2004.

He worked relentlessly to develop a well-planned curriculum, age-appropriate books, and all other related tools/Play and learn equipment with team support. It was a beautiful feeling for him after a long wait. Interestingly, Mr. Ajay had no experience in education, and he started this under the Franchise owned Franchise Operated (FOFO) Model. Now Bachpan is a well-established playschool brand with a presence in 400+ cities and a network of 1200+ playschools nationwide. Even after 20 years, we don’t have our playschool. In 2013, Mr. Ajay Gupta co-founded an edtech company by the name ‘Prismart’ when the reachability of education was gradually expanding to digital computer-based solutions. Within a short span of four years, Prismart converted our academic content into intelligent content in 3D and HD quality.

As a result of Ajay Gupta’s farsighted vision and progressive initiatives, Bachpan is ready with tech tools like—Smart class, Speak-o-pen, VR, Tablet-based learning, and Robotics in the playschool education for holistic development of children. Mr. Ajay Gupta says, ‘Kyunki bachpan Sirf Ek bar aata hai.’

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