From an Education Entrepreneur to Building an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

Lighthouse Learning is going to target the masstige and the premium segments in Pre-Schools & Schools and is actively looking out for acquisitions

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The disruption caused by COVID-19 has led to the opening up of new avenues in the ways schools deliver learning to their students. Within 72 hours of the lockdown announcement, Lighthouse Learning was able to transform to a fully tech-enabled work from home culture using various tools that were already in use for over a year for all internal engagements.

Lighthouse Learning

"Within a week of the lockdown, we deployed Ed-technology tools that helped us to migrate to remote work including offering our students uninterrupted learning" informs Prajodh Rajan, Group CEO, Lighthouse Learning (formerly EuroKids International).

The training for teachers, comprised of how to deal with technology for teaching, the assessment process and also on how to conduct classes online with tech tools. They then went on to taking virtual classes with the proprietary LMS tools, Argus and Billabox that have helped them in ensuring learning continues for the students. "What really helped us is the efforts we have taken in adopting technology to assist our growing business network since 2016, and it really came in handy when making the switch to a COVID-19 hit scenario. All we had to do was to reinforce our apps and platforms for heavier usage by our students, parents and partners," says Rajan affirmatively.

"There'll be an opportunity for us leaders in the preschool space to step in and take advantage of the gap between demand and supply, on-boarding a very large number of new partners and growing our franchise base very, very rapidly," said KVS Seshasai, CEO-PreK Division, Lighthouse Learning.

The lockdown also provided opportunities to focus on both internal and external guidelines with regards to all applicable stakeholders. It helped us think about new opportunities in the online/digital learning space along with accelerating our plan for the way forward. In our journey to shape future citizens with the skills they need, we crafted out six clear purposes keeping students at the centre. These would be our guiding light in creating deeper learning experiences, measuring impact and encouraging collaboration – in safe and inclusive spaces, led by teachers who push their boundaries.

"Flat hierarchies, strategic projects, access to the leadership team, enabling employees to take on responsibilities early and take charge of their careers dominate the culture at Lighthouse Learning. We believe in diversity and in getting an outside-in perspective but equally promote transparency and growing talent from within. Our employees are equal partners in building high-performance teams and we create opportunities regularly for employees to connect and engage. We nurture not just physical wellness but also mental health awareness and through various initiatives propagate a safe and inclusive environment for our children and employees," said Rohit Kumar, CHRO, Lighthouse Learning.

For our students and teachers, it was a broader opportunity to provide them with capabilities that would empower them. "We upskilled more than 2000 teachers across the entire Lighthouse Learning fraternity to complement and deliver effective online learning for students. To ensure continuous and uninterrupted learning for over 1.5 lac students across Lighthouse Learning group, we launched numerous initiatives like Home Buddy App in preschool and Argus for our K-12 students. Very recently we also launched our new curriculum, the iCan learning system for Kangaroo Kids," shares Rajan.

Launched in 2001 in Mumbai, it is among India's leading early childhood and K-12 education groups. With a "Child-First' ideology, today the group has Pre-Schools – EuroKids and Kangaroo Kids and K-12 schools – EuroSchool, Billabong High and Centre Point under one roof. In 2017, Lighthouse Learning acquired Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High. September 2019 saw Global investment firm KKR investing in the company with an intent to help scale.

"In the last two years, despite the uncertainty that encompassed the globe and the disruption of the economy, Lighthouse Learning has heavily invested in upgrading in technology. These investments have a twofold objective: One, to build a platform for business scalability and the second, to create new revenue streams through innovative digital offerings. We have multiple innovative product builds happening simultaneously and are in the process of building our capabilities and bringing on-board great talent to build a Grade A team," Avinash Kumar, chief digital officer, Lighthouse Learning.

Further, the group expanded its network in Nagpur through strategic partnership with Centre Point and Mother's Pet Kindergarten. Very recently, they unveiled a new concept of open space learning, with the EuroSchool campus in Bannerghatta. Talking about expansion in time the of a pandemic, Rajan says, "We continued to open and operationalize pre-schools during the pandemic. The future continues to remain bright, as we anticipate a strong rebound in the pre-school space the moment when they are allowed to open, because the custodial aspect of pre-school will not depart easily."

"The curriculum is structured and uses a child-first teaching ideology that provides a child with mindful learning, holistic development and positive behaviour," said Dr. Anita Madan, Head-Curriculum Development, EuroKids International.

When asked about the entrepreneurial opportunity created for women, Rajan mentions, "Since the very beginning, it was a mandate that our franchise preschools must be run by passionate women entrepreneurs who share our vision of high quality education to young children. About 95 percent of our EuroKids and Kangaroo Kids franchise partners are women from different walks of life and different parts of the country including working professionals, homemakers, women returning after maternity break, retired academicians, and pre-school teachers and so on. We not only provide entrepreneurship opportunities, but also employment opportunities at the preschools in roles such as teaching, housekeeping, administration, etc." The group has so far empowered over 1,000 women entrepreneurs running 1,200+ franchises today.

"Being the daughter of a school principal, I inherited a passion for education. However, I had no sense of running a business. EuroKids filled in gaps and empowered me with the skills required to kick-start and grow my own franchise. Today I have translated the EuroKids culture into my centre and it has helped me boost parent communication, collaboration and business performance," said Dr. Santoshi Singh, EuroKids Bengaluru.

According to KVS Seshasai, CEO, PreK Division, Lighthouse Learning, the big question mark that remained was how to make sure that the learning of children continued to be uninterrupted in the first lockdown. According to him, "We were able to create and put together very quickly a pretty robust digital learning platform called Home Buddy, which is available on Android and iOS and the whole intention was that if the children can't come to the preschool, then we'll take learning to the child via the virtual media but we did it at scale across all our partners". Even though there were apprehensions regarding the screen time and its ill effects on pre-schoolers, parents understood that it was a step they had to take due to the pandemic.
EuroKids has seen a significant increase over the last 2 years as close to 40% of the organization's partners were teachers. People wanting to start their entrepreneurial setup have also showed interest in the space. "The Great Resignation' is making waves throughout the corporate world as people are leaning towards their entrepreneurial venture. According to Seshasai, they feel like they are contributing to the growth of society and to the growth of children and the growth of the nation by imparting knowledge as they participate in education. Most of the new partners in the pandemic-struck 2-year period have been women as they intend to start their entrepreneurial venture. The pandemic had hit certain preschools hard as they were forced to shut shop which has created a massive gap in the preschool market. "This presents an opportunity for us leaders in the preschool space to step in and take advantage of the gap between demand and supply, on-boarding a very large number of new partners and growing our franchise base rapidly," said Seshasai on the closing of the gap.

The Indian early years and K-12 education market is hugely underserved. Lighthouse Learning is going to target the masstige and the premium segments in Pre-Schools & Schools and is actively looking out for acquisitions. They will continue to offer high quality education through the portfolio of brands - EuroKids Preschool, Kangaroo Kids Preschool, EuroSchool, Billabong High International, Cambridge Public School (Bengaluru) and the most recent addition to the family – Centre Point Schools (Nagpur) and Mother's Pet Kindergarten.

"I was born in a family where a lot of importance was given for education to every individual thus making it my top priority when I moved to Ahmedabad a few years back. I noticed a void in the preschool education sector and this lack of quality education in Ahmedabad led me to choose the education field and start my own preschool. From being a studious child to becoming an edupreneur, the journey with Kangaroo Kids has been excellent," said Pallavi Talreja, Kangaroo Kids, Ahmedabad.

Today, it caters to many new-age learners, builds opportunities for entrepreneurs and empowers educators to engage these learners effectively. As a group they are impacting the lives of 150,000 students every day, empowering over 1,000 women entrepreneurs across the country and employ over 10,000 women workforce. The circle of impact has grown significantly, and they are gearing to increase this further.