Own business: how to open a robotics club for children and teenagers

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Robotics is a popular area of ​​additional education. But if we are talking about launching not a simple circle, but a club with a decent curriculum, then the efforts and amounts will be appropriate.

Today, parents who think in advance about the professional prospects of their children, first of all, pay attention to the areas of additional education related to the online sphere and technology.

Within the framework of the areas of additional education, such a direction as EdTech stands out today – from the English Educational technology – educational technologies. EdTech is a rather broad concept, which combines not only online learning, but also a strong methodological and technological component. 

Projects and business lines operating in the EdTech market, which, according to experts, adds 100-150% annually, as a rule, are aimed not only at transferring theory and information base to students, as traditional education does, but also at achieving practical results. 

Naturally, the teaching methodology itself, results monitoring and other processes in EdTech are closely related to technology. 

Such a format of business and education as a robotics club for children and teenagers should ideally be a fusion of modern technologies and teaching methods. There are such clubs as a response to the challenges of the time. Already, many traditional professions are being replaced by robots, which means that in the near future, the most popular and highly paid professions will be maintenance, repair and programming of robots. In the process of learning, children develop skills in constructing robots, understanding the principles of their work and programming, developing logical and mathematical thinking, and expanding their knowledge of terminology.

Despite the fact that there are already about 2,000 robotics circles in Russia and several large networks are represented (“League of Robots”, “Robotrack”, Start Junior, “Robbo Club” and others), as well as more than a dozen medium-sized companies (from 10 to 20 branches), experts expect a tenfold increase in the EdTech market by 2025. 

Below we will consider strategies for opening such a promising business area as a robotics club and touch on the main business points that a novice entrepreneur needs to consider.

Training program

A modern robotics club is not just a circle or an extended day group where children have fun playing with an intricate constructor. Rather, it is a school of additional IT education that grows future IT engineers and specialists who should be in demand in new technological markets.

In schools, teaching should be systematic and ongoing. And this means that the organizers of the club need to develop a clear curriculum with a length of 5 months or longer, preferably 2-3 academic years. 

Ideally, the curriculum should cover three age groups: preschoolers 5-6 years old, elementary school students 7-10 years old, and teenagers 11-15 years old.

You will need not only lesson plans, but also with business development – all kinds of additional programs, thematic master classes, quests and other scenarios that will be able to increase the profitability of the circle. It is with the development and testing of the curriculum that it is worth starting such a business. 

Curricula are usually based on the following areas:

  • Robotics (arduino courses, mechatronics, the basics of designing and programming robotic devices);
  • Programming in different languages ​​- Scratch, Python, Java, Android, C++, creating mobile applications.
  • Additive technologies (3D modeling, 3D design, basics of 3D game development).

Given the current situation due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the threat of bans on in-person classes, club organizers should also consider creating online programs. 

Sometimes such activities can be allowed even during a pandemic, but with some reservations: for example, when the authorities allow work in groups of up to 10 people. However, for the quarantine period, it is desirable to introduce free attendance and the ability to sign up / reschedule the lesson to another day.

Start strategy: franchise or own boss

The choice of the main business strategy – the entrepreneur either acts independently or seeks support in partnership, for example, by working on franchising. 

1 way. Franchising

The difference is that good franchises already have a ready-made and proven curriculum, a license, teaching materials with lesson plans, and a recommended set of robotic equipment. Quite often, franchises have a well-organized staff training system and provide a strong marketing component. Working under the auspices of a brand usually means using ready-made schemes and best practices for promotion, having a franchisor with sets of advertising materials, and knowing working methods to attract customers. The networks enjoy the support of major educational centers and regularly participate in major Russian and international festivals and educational events.

Working on a franchise, an entrepreneur does not have to spend the lion’s share of time developing and adjusting the program to the needs of the audience. The business is already packaged and tested. The only negative is that you have to pay for everything ready. Buying a franchise of a large federal network may involve not only the payment of an impressive lump-sum fee (usually several hundred thousand rubles), but also monthly deductions (royalties), as well as fees for advertising, the purchase of specific and very expensive equipment from a supplier company, and so on. 

2 way. Self launch

The path of self-development is appropriate if you want to open a small circle of robotics with minimal investment and claims, or create your own unique school, focusing on original methods, a unique program and learning approaches that have not been presented on the market before. 

When starting a business on your own, you will need not only to devote time to creating a curriculum and testing it, but also to carry out more serious work on market analysis.

One way or another, it requires knowledge in the field of robotics, studying customer reviews of existing schools, visiting existing IT clubs. A unique selling proposition can only be born from practice – taking into account the disadvantages of competitors and creating your own response to their mistakes. 

Please note that many programs that are well designed in theory may not be interesting for children in practice. As a result, customers will leave, and you will have to puzzle over how to fine-tune the program so that the child is interested along the way. Without taking into account practice, there is always a great risk of replenishing a huge list of faceless circles, the organizers of which simply bought designers and rented a room. Such a format today can only be in demand in small towns, where there are no competitors at all and parents simply have no one to compare you with. 

Registration of a robotics club: basic subtleties

The most suitable organizational and legal form for a small robotics club is an individual entrepreneurship (IP). The procedure for registering an individual entrepreneur can be found in detail in this article . When working with an educational license (more on this below) as an activity code, you need to select OKVED 85.41 “Additional education for children and adults”. 

Choosing a taxation system

Together with the individual entrepreneur, an application is submitted for the transition to a simplified taxation system. This is STS 15%, when taxes are calculated from the amount of income reduced by expenses, or STS 6% – when taxes are calculated from income. Also very convenient in this activity is the patent taxation system (PSN). The cost of a patent varies by region and averages about 20,000 rubles a year.  

Licensing 

Formal education of children with the availability of an educational program, the use of methodological materials and teachers working in an institution implies obtaining an educational license. To do this, an application is submitted to Rospotrebnadzor, which is in charge of checking your premises for compliance with all its standards (registered in SanPiN 2.4.4.3172-14 ). After this body issues a positive opinion, the document is submitted to the local education committee. He also needs to provide a curriculum, data on teachers and only then obtain a license. A separate conclusion from the Ministry of Emergency Situations is not required for issuing a license, however, in the process of work, fire safety rules must be observed. Also, another of the requirements can be called the absence of a criminal record from the entrepreneur (you can order a certificate through the State Services ). It is better to start licensing itself immediately after the opening of the club, and in case of checks during registration, present a copy of the application to Rospotrebnadzor.

The term for obtaining an educational license after submitting a complete package of documents and filling out an application is 45 days, the state duty is 7,500 rubles. Responsibility for work without a license is prescribed in part 2 of article 14.1. 2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation . 

The main problem for small clubs is that in practice many requirements for the premises of educational institutions are extremely difficult to meet, because these standards were clearly created for large institutions with a large number of students, and not for circles with two or three teachers. For example, the law does not allow clubs to open in basements, and inspectors may not like a lot of things, from the material of the walls to the lack of a fire exit or an additional toilet. Moreover, when licensing a club, an entrepreneur must be prepared for the fact that from now on he will be in the field of view of the inspection bodies, and scheduled inspections will come to him every three years.

When is a license not required?

1. IP teacher without other teaching staff 
A license is not needed if an individual entrepreneur with a specialized education works independently without hiring other teaching staff. Other employees who will not teach children, such as administrators, marketers, cleaners, etc. you can hire. Sometimes entrepreneurs hire administrators who actually teach children. But this is quite risky: in the case of verification, it will not be difficult to find out after a simple survey of parents. 

2. A circle that does not conduct educational activities

In order to reduce costs and time to open and not obtain a license, many clubs are trying to find workarounds and position themselves not as educational institutions, but as leisure centers and clubs. When registering, they select OKVED codes 88.91 – “Provision of day care services for children”, 93.29.9 – “Other entertainment and entertainment activities”, 90.04.3 – “Activities of club-type institutions: clubs, palaces and houses of culture, houses of folk art “. However, just selecting non-educational code to work without a license is not enough.

From the point of view of the law, such institutions do not have the right to teach anything, but can only look after children, entertain, and conduct classes for general development. In this case, no official certificates are issued to students, and in promotions the educational aspect is diligently bypassed. In order not to violate the law, such clubs conclude agreements with parents on leisure and educational activities, organize free visits to the club, and do not hire teachers. 

In the case of a check to identify signs of an educational institution (it is usually carried out under force majeure circumstances or complaints from disgruntled parents), in addition to OKVED codes, the prosecutor’s office will definitely check everything that looks like a curriculum and methodological materials, pay attention to signs of the regularity of classes (for example , if the groups attend classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays), consider the wording in the advertisement (for example, promises to prepare children for university entrance). Also, inspectors will pay attention to who the teachers are, whether they have diplomas, certificates and medical records of teachers, job descriptions with references to the educational program or standards. Of course, explanations from the head of the club and parents will be required.

3. Leasing premises to IP teachers

Another option when a license is not required is when an individual entrepreneur chooses OKVED in the “rent” category and invites other individual entrepreneurs with a pedagogical education to their premises. That is, in fact, the IP itself does not hold the club, but only rents out a place for classes with children. In this case, neither he nor the teachers need a license. However, in this case, each teacher must open a current account, an online cash register, accept money and conclude agreements with parents.

The premises and location of the club

It is better to open robotics clubs in cities with a population of at least 50 thousand inhabitants. The most successful will be the neighborhood with schools, kindergartens, shopping centers and LCDs. 

The placement of the robotics club itself is desirable in the following places:

  • buildings with separate entrances.
  • schools and universities;
  • business centers;
  • libraries;
  • premises in the shopping center near the children’s areas.

If we are not talking about opening and equipping a simple class (for example, on the basis of a school or university), but about a robotics club with a separate entrance, then the room for it should have:

  • 1-2 classrooms;
  • reception;
  • waiting area for parents;
  • bathroom.

Educational halls occupy about 20-25 square meters. meters. Accordingly, if you rent a separate room with one training room, the total area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe room will be about 40 square meters. meters, if with two – about 65-75 square meters. meters. 

The room should be located on the first or second floor, have good natural light and ventilation. The building should be able to install a video surveillance system and high-speed Internet. A plus is the location of public transport stops nearby and the availability of parking: many parents bring their children to class in their own car.

In connection with the situation around the coronavirus pandemic, it must be remembered that the premises will need to be treated with alcohol-containing and disinfectants, and aired regularly. It is also advisable to get non-contact thermometers and hand sanitizers. 

Equipment

One of the key components of this business is its technological stuffing and designers. His choice is largely related to the very concept of the club and its educational process. According to the principles of creation, equipment can be divided into two types. 

  • Proprietary software and hardware. This type suggests that in robotics training, ready-made schemes and blocks are used to assemble robots. Plus – in simplicity, minus – you can not move away from patterns and find out how everything works inside. 
  • Open source software and hardware. The principle of this type of equipment is that it can be disassembled to the smallest detail. It is possible to improve it and create completely new devices. 

Therefore, choosing the first type, you choose rather an entertaining circle format, in the second one, you allow its participants to delve directly into robotics and the basics of programming. Accordingly, the depth of the educational process and the freedom of creativity will also differ significantly. 

As for the choice of brands of equipment, you can give preference to both Russian and foreign manufacturers. Well-known brands on the market are Lego, Robbo, Fischertechnik, VEX, TRIK, Huna-MRT, RoboRobo, Amperka, Robotrack and others. Some schools build the program on sets from one manufacturer, others combine them depending on the task and the age of the students.

If we are talking about starting a franchise business, then there may not be a problem with choosing a brand – some companies oblige you to use their equipment, since training programs are built on it. Or, at least – give a clear list of everything you need. 

In addition to designers, robotics clubs use or can use:

  • Laptops/computers. Each student must be provided with a personal workplace with a laptop or computer for the duration of the lesson. Usually clubs prefer small laptops. Firstly, they do not take up much space on the tables, leaving free space for designers. And secondly, they are convenient to carry from place to place and take with you to competitions. At the same time, the most budget options will not work – you need a good video card, and the processor must be quite powerful for solving various programming tasks. 
  • Projector. A modern robotics club is not a place where teachers talk “on their fingers”. To demonstrate projects in front of the class, you will need a good projector with a screen. 
  • Chalk/magnetic whiteboard/flipchart. What is a school without a blackboard? You can choose as the most common wooden or ceramic chalk board, or use the magnetic chalk board that is more popular today.
  • Interactive tables. Sometimes in such clubs there are interactive tables. With touch screens, you can work in groups of several students at once, creating team tasks. Such equipment will cost at least 150-200 thousand rubles.
  • Training fields. If the club plans to take part in competitions, a set of fields is needed, which will be lined on trajectories for different types of competitions, such as robot football, quest trajectories, kegelring and others. Such fields can be equipped with magnetic stripes, scoreboards, infrared emitters, variable height borders, etc.
  • 3D printer/3D pens. Compact 3D printers are used to teach 3D prototyping and 3D printing. With their help, students will be able to turn their own drawings or finished models into plastic artifacts. These printed parts can be used to expand the functionality of finished robots. Sometimes, instead of expensive 3D printers, 3D pens are chosen, with which it is convenient not to print parts, but at least to mount sensors or modules. 
  • Cases for designers and tools. Constructors and tools should be stored in lockers, preferably locked with a key to avoid theft. In order for each designer to lie in its place and storage is convenient, it is better to purchase plastic boxes.
  • Chairs and desks. Desks and chairs can be both the most ordinary and with bells and whistles, for example, with height adjustment. 
  • Antistatic mats and wristbands. Special floor or table coverings can greatly reduce or eliminate the build-up of electrostatic charge when working with electronics. Also, students wear antistatic bracelets with a resistor to protect against current in case of accidental contact with current conductors. Through a resistor, the bracelet is connected to ground.
  • Set of tools. If students are building their projects, various tools will be required such as pliers, scissors, screwdriver, drill, hot melt adhesive, bolts, nuts, screws, connectors, wires, and so on. 

We emphasize that it is not necessary to have all the equipment that is associated with robotics, and you do not need to overpay for its presence alone. Equipment is selected only after the educational program has been thought out. If the club will open on the basis of an educational institution or office, much of the list may already be available. 

When equipping a club, be careful with “specially unique options” – always keep in mind the liquidity of the equipment and whether you can easily sell what you have bought in case of failure. 

It will take about 500,000 rubles to equip the class for 8 training places in robotics and 3D modeling (including laptops, construction kits, a 3D printer and 3D pens). By the way, some network companies have services for package equipment of classes, without the need to purchase a franchise. 

In addition, do not forget about the furniture for the waiting area for parents and the reception, you will also need office equipment, a CRM system, and an online cash register.

Robotics club staff

The search for teachers is one of the main difficulties in this business; good specialists do not lie on the road. It is the lack of professional staff in the technical field that can become the stumbling block that will not allow you to create a competitive business. The task is simplified if the entrepreneur himself or his project partners act as a teacher or teachers.

In order to be hired and perform duties, a teacher, in addition to a diploma of pedagogical education (or a certificate of retraining courses for the qualification “teacher”), must have a sanitary book and a certificate of no criminal record. 

Not only do employees need to be found, but they also need to be properly trained and managed to retain. There is a great risk that a really good teacher can be “hunted” by competitors or one day he will be offered a more profitable position in another city. Therefore, the entrepreneur will have to keep his finger on the pulse, offering the employee comfortable working conditions and attractive pay options. The salary can be either piecework, where the amount is determined by the number of classes, or fixed. 

Club advertisement

Robotics club ad campaigns appeal to parents. It is they, and not the children, who make the decision to enroll a child in the club, it is the parents who pay the money, and it is their “pains” and needs that must be taken into account in any advertising message.

Potential customers should know about the new club even before the actual opening, so the advertising campaign can be started well in advance. On the promotion of a club that wants not to get lost among competitors, you will have to spend about 200 thousand rubles. In the future, you will need to spend at least 20 thousand rubles a month on promotion. As marketing tools and promotion channels for a robotics club, you can use both offline and online directions. 

Online direction:

  • Social media. You can create club accounts and make targeted ads. 
  • Website. A website is the place where your online advertising will lead, as well as a way to tell more about yourself and introduce yourself to a potential client. For these purposes, a one-pager is perfect. Of course, clean and beautifully designed and inspiring confidence in customers.
  • Advertising in the media of the city. These can be either one-time publications in the online media or video clips on TV, or an information partnership with a series of materials.
  • Contextual advertising. The robotics club needs to be visible on the Internet, which will help setting up advertising campaigns in Yandex.Direct and Google Adwords.

Offline direction:

  • Outdoor advertising. If you are working in a building where you can hang an outdoor sign, then this must be done. You can also put up ads and distribute flyers in the area of ​​​​the club or in places where the target audience is concentrated.
  • Word of mouth radio. All acquaintances, friends, relatives and neighbors should know exactly what you are doing, for sure it is their children who will become your first students. Sometimes it seems to us that everyone around is already in the know, but the verification here is simple. Ask yourself if you know exactly what they do. 
  • Open days / open and trial lessons. A visual format for introducing potential clients to the work of the club is to invite them to look at its work live and allow the child to attend a free trial lesson.
  • Master classes and quests. You can conduct them both on your site and in other places, for example, in a shopping center. During these events, you can sell discounted class passes.
  • Advertising in schools and kindergartens. You can arrange with the school management to present the circle for students during class hours or parent meetings in order to present the club to parents. You can simply hand out leaflets and tell all the main things in 15 minutes, or you can take a robot with you and conduct an introductory master class.
  • Participation in events. This includes thematic city events on the topic of children’s education – all kinds of exhibitions, fairs, festivals, conferences, rallies, camps and more. 
  • Partnership. You can open and / or develop a club in partnership with a government agency or a private business working in a related field and interested in the education of children.

Whenever possible, try to collect feedback (preferably in video format). Then they can be used to increase the trust of future customers on the club’s website or in social networks.

Business financial calculations

Investments. Approximate level of investment for a small robotics club with one classroom, operating in a large regional city, in a room of 40 sq. m. and with a separate entrance will exceed 1 million rubles. Please note that the start-up costs below do not include the costs of developing and testing the curriculum. 

COST ITEMAMOUNT, RUB.
Repair and design of the premises100,000
Purchase of equipment for classes (8 training places)500 000
Room rental for 2 months40 000
Furniture (desks, chairs, cabinets, board)150 000
Waiting area equipment80 000
Office equipment, online cash desk80 000
Registration, license, patent40 000
Advertising campaign at the start (website, media advertising, context, handouts, social networks) 200 000
Other (household goods, stationery, antiseptics, etc.)10,000
Total:1,200,000

Revenue. At the stage of income planning, the entrepreneur’s task is to calculate the level of income, taking into account attendance and all expenses, which will allow him to go to zero (break-even point), and only then, starting from this figure, understand the sales volume to extract the desired profit. It is best to aim to break even the business from the first month of operation. Therefore, the sale of subscriptions can be started well in advance even before the start of work.

The maximum throughput of one class is about 120 people per month. With an average cost of a monthly subscription of 3 thousand rubles, the revenue will be 360 ​​thousand rubles. Seasonality in this business is associated with the period of summer holidays and vacations.

Monthly expenses. The fixed costs of a robotics club can reach up to 60% of revenue. the main costs will require payroll, advertising, rent. 

COST ITEMAMOUNT, RUB.
Rent20 000
Wage Fund (2 teachers)100,000
Advertising25 000
Accounting10,000
Utilities, internet5000
Total:160 000

Profit and payback. With the given indicators, the club will be able to bring about 200 thousand rubles. per month. The payback period will be from six months of work. In practice, the terms can stretch for a year or more, so it is necessary to have a so-called “airbag”. With the first income, it would be most expedient to invest money not for personal purposes, but for business development, the development of new curricula and, of course, advertising: it is extremely important for robotics clubs to create a word of mouth effect so that they know and talk about it. 

Business scaling

Many entrepreneurs, having barely put one club on their feet, rush to open a second, third, and so on. The desire not to miss the profit can be somewhat obscured. Opening already seems easier – a new registration is not required, knowledge and, most importantly, there are customers! Moreover, the opening of a new point can be beneficial for both the entrepreneur and teachers, because they can conduct classes in several of your clubs at once.

But it usually happens in practice that as a result of the hasty launch of new branches, all the weak points that were in one school are scaled up to several schools, and the business itself soon becomes unmanageable and bursts at the seams. A simple conclusion follows from this – it is necessary to scale a business only after gaining proper experience, rolling back the curriculum, mastering and bringing all business processes to automatism.

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