Deepika and Vijay Ilavarasan had great careers as technology professionals. Vijay was a marketing technology director and Deepika was a software engineer. Although they were successful, their jobs simply weren’t delivering the personal fulfillment they wanted, so they decided to make a change. Deepika returned to school to study early childhood education so they could open their own child care business. As she and Vijay explored their options, they ultimately selected Kiddie Academy® Educational Child Care as the franchisor they felt best aligned with what they were looking for. The company encourages a culture of entrepreneurship and the Ilavarasans knew they would be able to make their business their own.
The Ilavarasans opened Kiddie Academy of Vancouver-Fishers Landing, WA in 2017. Theirs was the first Kiddie Academy franchise in their market and that excited Vijay and Deepika. “We looked at it as an opportunity to separate ourselves from the competition and really stand out,” Vijay said. “We knew with the support from corporate, our backgrounds and ambition and the Kiddie Academy community behind us, we could thrive, and we have. We trusted our gut and now we are opening two more Academies – one in Camas and another in Tigard. It’s been the best decision for our family.”
Building and running their Academy has truly been a family affair for the Ilavarasans. Even their 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter help after school and during vacations. Vijay said, “Our kids are really interested in the business and it’s a great learning experience for them. Our son, especially. He’s always asking us how many enrollments we’re getting. That’s one of the beauties of a small family business – everybody is involved, and they understand the time commitment. They see that running a business not only provides for our family, but also lets us make a difference to other families in our community.”
The Ilavarasans credit much their success on being able to build their Academies to reflect the tastes and expectations of customers in their community. Deepika said, “We were able to get our play structures from local vendors that had evergreen tree toppers and looked very local to the area. Small things but they have big impact and Kiddie Academy allows us that flexibility and to be hands on.”
Vijay said that the Kiddie Academy Franchisee network has been incredibly helpful to them. “I’ve been very fortunate to get the support of a lot of other Franchisees, both in our market and far away from our Academy. It’s good to share experiences with them when we see them at conference or during training sessions. When we’re at the Academy and have questions, we can post them on the intranet forum and we get lots of feedback from others who have already dealt with the issue successfully.” Now, after running a successful Academy and with two more in the pipeline, the Ilavarasans often find that they’re the experts other Franchisees come to for answers to questions.
For those considering opening a Kiddie Academy location of their own, Vijay offers this advice: “Trust yourself, trust your abilities. There are a lot of people to help you. People like us are there to help you. You have all the wonderful people at Kiddie Academy to help you. With each passing month, you become more and more confident, and you’re happier with the decision you made.”
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