11 Sep 2019, 12:05 — 10 min read
Entrepreneurship tends to attract people with unique ideas and strong personalities, Dr Aperna Volluru Rao, founder of Ritzy Schools has both in abundance. She quit her lucrative IT job to become a franchisor of preschools. Today, Ritzy Schools has a presence in India and abroad and is testament to Aperna’s commitment to quality education.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Aperna shares her entrepreneurial journey.
GL: Aperna, share with us your journey of establishing Ritzy Schools.
Aperna: The early phase of my business journey was a lonely one. To start with neither my family nor my friends supported my decision of quitting my lucrative and prestigious job as an IT consultant for European Union’s Joint Research Commission, a dream for many IT professionals. Only I was convinced that without quitting my job, I could never be an entrepreneur.
I registered Ritzy Schools in Italy’s Chamber of Commerce in 2010. From a humble beginning in Bari, Italy where I started my first Language Centre and then the preschools, it’s been an uphill journey to becoming a franchisor of preschools across the globe. I hired freelancers from all over the world and today we have our staff working from both on shore and offshore offices. Recognitions like ‘Open Knowledge Award for Business Initiative 2014’ (it’s the same house that gives out Nobel Prize for innovations and peace), boosted my morale. That same year I ventured into franchising and registered my company in India.
Our philosophy, our people, our commitment and our resources are all focused on giving children an excellent start in life, exposing them to the best of both oriental and occidental ethos.
The unorganised Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector in India and the fact that just 2% of the children in the age group of 0 to 6 years are able to receive ECEC motivated me to innovate the fully automated franchising model of preschool which can run anywhere in the globe with high quality, accessible, affordable, community-connected preschools.
Our philosophy, our people, our commitment and our resources are all focused on giving children an excellent start in life, exposing them to the best of both oriental and occidental ethos. Ritzy Schools is the first preschool in the world to have implemented Neuro Linguistic Programming in the preschool sector. It has its own time-tested teaching tool, ‘Decant’ and its assessment system, ‘Milestones’ to assess a wide range of developmental areas in young children and guide decisive intervention. Our curriculum is our backbone. We have our own characters; our Mascot Mr Ritzy (a beaver) and our own books and worksheets where illustrations are hand drawn and crayon coloured. For parents we have a Ritzy App via which they can have access to all that has been done in the class during the week and then follow it up at home. We are the only preschool to introduce robotics for children aged two years. By the time a child passes out from our preschool, s/he would completely develop gross motor skills, fine motor skills and cognitive skills.
GL: What has been the most effective way of raising awareness about your schools?
Aperna: Social media and awards have gone a long way to help me and my team to market our product globally. I would suggest all SMEs to spend a good chunk of their marketing time in applying for all free awards. This will not only motivate the team but also the award organisers do a lot of publicity for the business.
Also read: Kamna Joshi, Founder, Selfie Unisex Salon
GL: What are challenges for your business to grow bigger, better and faster from here?
Aperna: Our product is completely ready for penetrating into the market. 60% of the people whom we approach join our family. But we do not have enough money to market ourselves and without marketing we cannot reach and benefit our target segments. Finance is the biggest challenge for us. If we can invest in marketing, then we will be able to accelerate the process of giving both education to children and generate employment for youth.
GL: How have you benefitted by being a member of GlobalLinker?
Aperna: GlobalLinker helps to create strong branding with lot of visibility across the globe. Other SMEs must explore this platform for strong networking as well as to explore collaboration and partnerships.
GL: Based on your rich experience, what advice would you give to a new entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Aperna: At the very commencement of an entrepreneur’s journey, they are aware of the fact that results are undefined and uncertain. They get accustomed to take challenges and turn them into reality. That’s what the whole journey is all about. The path seems more alluring than the destination. Entrepreneurs should enjoy the journey and the destination will be converted into high end success by default. We, entrepreneurs are a combination of strength, ambition, determination and confidence! But hey, we are not omnipotent. We may be in low spirits sometimes but we must ensure that our dejection does not become a plight which gives people the chance to manipulate and exploit us. As Chanakya rightly said, even if it is a non-venomous snake, it must act like one with the ability to take life.
GL: What is the next big thing on your business agenda?
Aperna: To carpet the two Telugu speaking states with ECEC and then wait to see its doppler effect.
GL: We would love to know the person behind the entrepreneur.
Do not reveal your plans before others as others will try to hinder your regime: Your competitors may remain hidden anywhere and you won’t have the slightest knowledge. So, don’t compromise your hard-earned company with the mere happiness of being in the limelight. Focus on executing your plans by limiting it to yourself and fame will find you.
You should be shameless when it comes to learning something or dealing in business: Entrepreneurs needs to be shameless, determined and immune to changes. They need to keep just one thing in mind; the detractors of today will be the celebrators of their success tomorrow.
People who use foul language meet quick destruction: An entrepreneur or a businessman must understand that human touch is an indispensable part of both personal and professional life. Entrepreneurs who have failed really badly due to their harsh behaviour are not a rare.
Also read: Yosha Gupta, Founder, Memeraki
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