Why do you think your business is so popular?
AS: Because it's fun, because kids love doing what they're doing, because the presenters really enjoy what they're doing. We take science and leverage it to spark imagination. You don't have to love science to love Mad Science-you just have to love life around you. Everything is presented in a fun, hands-on way that really gets kids going, so they end up learning as a by-product.
RS: I would boil it down to two things. We are successful, number one, because we've got a fabulous system that just hits the nail on the head with what the consumer wants in this market. All the exciting, engaging ways of doing it are wrapped into the Mad Science system, and it has succeeded because we've provided a way for franchisees just to plug into that.
The other reason it's been very successful is because, unlike many franchisors in the kid's space, our business isn't just about franchisees going in to do activities-it's about building a brand, and we have been incredibly focused on building a national brand that is more than just a collection of franchisees doing activities. We did an exclusive deal with Scholastic, where they've created a series of 12 Mad Science books with toys and workbooks, and they've launched that to their 25 million kid channel. It's done so well this year-more than 100,000 kids are enrolled-that they decided to expand the program to launch it at 10,000 retail stores around the world. The touring, traveling shows that we've created with Mad Science productions going to various cities get a tremendous amount of local coverage.
AS: Incidentally, these are large-scale theatrical venues. Where Mad Science is about reaching groups of kids, classrooms of kids, or, in some cases, even schools of kids, Mad Science Productions reaches large numbers of children at fixed facilities or through traveling road shows. We've launched an enormous show at the Kennedy Space Center-3-D stereoscopic shows where children are learning about space and Mars through our production that has animation and live actors interacting with the audience.
RS: Mad Science is successful due to a very carefully created franchise system that franchisees can plug into, plus our incredible efforts on a corporate level to build the Mad Science brand to the point where it becomes a recognizable household name for families with children, elementary school-aged children. With those two things happening at the same time, it's a way of building brand recognition and also supporting the franchise system.
The next step for us is to extend those two main success factors for Mad Science. And really the biggest opportunity right now is building a worldwide brand for kids. We're in discussions right now to create a Mad Science TV show with all the various merchandise that comes out of that, like toys and clothes and CD ROMs, interactive games and videos and all that kind of thing. That's the next step for Mad Science, to really build the brand to the point where the activities of the franchisees, the activities of Mad Science Productions and the national TV show all connect together to one very powerful kid's brand.
Do the TV show and the live production create any competition with your franchisees?
RS: No. We actually work our franchisees into everything we do, so when our production company goes in to do a production in a local market, our franchisees embrace that. It's at a much larger level than our franchisees can do on their own, and we involve our franchisees in the actual activities, so they generate a lot of business out of that.
AS: In fact, everything we do focuses around our crown jewel, and that's our franchise channel. When we have a production company that goes into a local town, the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are often spent to promote those productions are of huge benefit to our franchisees.
RS: They're getting hundreds of thousands of dollars of free advertising. In fact, when the productions go into these cities, in most cases, there's local support from our franchisees in dealing with the often hundreds of thousands of kids who are becoming brand aware.
AS: In essence, we turn all these kids on to Mad Science and then pass them right to our local franchisees who can capture them and then get the business on an ongoing basis, on a smaller scale.
What do you want kids who go through Mad Science to get from your company's presentations?
AS: There's really one guiding principle that flows through every single thing we do, and that is sparking the imagination of children. That's really what Mad Science is all about. It's a business, it's a franchise, it's successful, it's making money, it provides wonderful stability and growth for our franchisees. There are many businesses that will do that for you, but beyond all of that, it's the passion of making a difference in children's lives, and we really achieve that in the most extraordinary way.
The Mad Science Group Inc.
3400 Jean Talon St. W, 101
Montreal, Quebec H3R2E8