With the undeniable demand for kid’s coding education programmes in the UK, David Graham and his franchise support team knew the time was right to bring Code Ninjas to British soil. In Spring 2019, they made the 10,000-mile round trip and introduced Code
Coding is no longer just a complex discipline utilised in large-scale technology corporations. It’s now part of everyday life, as our children become more tech-savvy and tech becomes more obtainable. Coding isn’t a fad, or a craze, but a global language and a necessary skill. Children love to experiment with tech, have fun with their friends and build cool stuff, like robots and drones. In theory, Code Ninjas is a simple format, but it works because it gives kids – and parents! – what they want: a safe and happy place to nurture their passion for technology.
With so many cultural and commercial similarities between the US and the UK, making the trip across the pond was a natural progression for us. STEM education is a hot topic on both sides of the Atlantic, so we had an inkling the Code Ninjas programme would perform as well in the UK as in the US. Early indications confirmed that inkling when we were approached by investors in the UK asking when we were coming!
Before hopping on a flight, it was imperative that we carried out our due diligence. Our first port of call was to research demand – we couldn’t base an overseas expansion on an inkling alone. There are very few services in the UK that teach kids how to code – especially in the fun, interactive format that we offer – and in terms of a kids coding franchise, we would be the very first on British soil. Win-win.
There’s plenty to consider when introducing a business concept – and in this case, a franchise – to a new market. Firstly, and arguably most importantly, are the legal requirements in that country. This means things like your franchise agreement, operational practices and even employment contracts for staff of future franchisees, must adhere to the letter of the law. You also have to make sure you understand and comply with country specific regulatory requirements in your sector. I would always recommend seeking the support of a legal professional in this instance – it’s something you just can’t afford to get wrong.
The next thing to consider is how to format the support structure in a new market. Some franchisors choose to keep their franchise team in their country of origin and support franchisees remotely. We have an amazing support team it the US – in fact, we proudly call ourselves a support-based franchise – but we wanted our UK franchisees to have a dedicated and specialist team on the ground too. Now, our UK network will benefit from the best of both worlds from day one.
With the fundamentals in place, we initiated an online marketing campaign, promoting the Code Ninjas opportunity, and our very first UK discovery day, to potential prospects. Thanks to the impressive growth of the brand so far, combined with the obvious need for computer skills, we received over 700 enquiries in just 14 days. On the 23rd May, we invited potential partners to come and learn all about Code Ninjas at the world-famous Royal Horseguards, in London’s Westminster. The perfect setting for a day that would forever mark Code Ninjas history in the UK!
On the big day we were inundated with potential franchisees, all wanting in on the action. So much so, that we extended our stay to enable us to meet with prospects for more in-depth discussions. More than 40 potential investors were seriously interested in the opportunity and keen to become the first ever UK franchisee – a title we’ve now filled. But more on that next time…