Autumn Seiler, president and co-founder for iKids Inc., has spent her entire life around children, from babysitting at a young age to working with children with disabilities and developmental delays as a pediatric occupational therapist. When she and her husband decided to pool their expertise – hers with children and his in information technology – to create a business, she knew she wanted to elevate after-school programs. That way children like her own would be safe, have fun, learn, and schools and parents would have an easier time managing things. There were a few steps in the middle, but iKids Inc. was the result.
How did you start iKids Inc.?
My husband and I started out with technology enrichment classes for children. This was back in 2007. Then we added a robotics program, then music technology, servicing different schools within their after-school programs.
At that time, I was a young mother, and my daughter was about to enter elementary school. Being working parents we also needed a good after-school program for our child. But being a part of different after-school programs I noticed a lot of mediocrity. Some were not as safe as they could be. Not all of them – some of them were great – but I wanted a program where I would feel safe leaving my child.
There were a lot of different vendors providing different enrichment activities, another company providing the after care. It was disorganized, and there was nobody really making sure the kids got to the different classes. We thought, we can take our business and expand it, offer a customizable after-school program that allows flexibility for family scheduling along with the ability to make choices based on their child’s interests.
We can provide all of the after-school activities, and make it more organized for the school. They have one point of contact that handles all of the after-school services but we’ll also provide a site supervisor who ensures the kids are where they need to be, have wonderful, meaningful opportunities, and make it more organized for the parents. They can feel confident in what their child is doing after school.
What motivated you to franchise?
I found the more schools we got, the more there is to take care of, more students to manage, more parents to communicate with, and I never want quantity to supersede quality. We have a fantastic reputation. An education franchise seemed to be better for us so that we could have different people managing a certain number of schools in certain areas.
What do you want potential franchisees to know about this opportunity?
One, we love what we do, and everybody who works for us do it because they love it. They love the iKids culture, they love the mission. They also love working with children. I find that franchisees who really have an entrepreneurial spirt and a desire to start a business working with children will end up loving their job.
It is hard work, but it’s very rewarding, and it’s enjoyable. It’s also a lifestyle-friendly business. We’ve been fortunate to have a successful business and still be able to raise a family. We follow the school calendar. We get the same holidays as our children, spring and Christmas break and summers off. Franchisees, once they get their business going, they can enjoy having balance too. That was always something that I wanted to achieve as a working mother, to find that lifestyle balance.
How do you work with franchisees?
We have a whole administrative team, and we write the curriculum in house, so we have different people on staff who specialize in certain areas. Like one of my administrative team members is a certified teacher in dance. Another is certified in drama, and another one went to culinary school, which helps with the cooking curriculum.
Then we have a full training system to help get franchisees going and teach them about the business. We use a software system that we train them on that takes the child from registration to rostering to billing. We have billing support personnel to help them through that process.
Our franchisees are supported really well. They can call our office, and we can answer their questions on the spot, or they can email us and we do our best to get back with them same day or next business day. If there’s something they need us to fix or they don’t understand something we’re here to provide that.
To learn more about this education franchise opportunity, get in touch with Autumn or another member of the iKids Inc. team.