Early years education entrepreneur Raj Singhal is the Gurgaon-based co-founder and CEO of Footprints Childcare Pvt. Ltd (FCPL, estb.2013), a day care and preschool chain which owns 70 pre-primaries in 12 cities with an aggregate enrolment of 4,500 children in the 1.5-4.5 years age group, mentored by 500 teachers.
Newspeg. FCPL recently organised a parents’ workshop in Bangalore which was attended by 100 delegates.
History. An engineering graduate of IIT-Delhi, Singhal began his career with IT behemoth Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in 1999, followed by a short stint with GlobalLogic India Ltd. Uninspired by his corporate experience he went solo in 2002, and co-founded the Noida-based BrickRed Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
However, disillusioned with the quality of preschools available in Delhi NCR for his twin son and daughter, Singhal charted yet another path. He sold BrickRed to the US-based 3Pillar Global Inc and together with his IIT batchmates Purvesh Sharma and Ashish Aggarwal, promoted Footprints Childcare five years ago. Currently, all 70 Footprints centres offer day care facilities as well as early childhood care and education (ECCE).
Direct talk. “Today, most urban households in India are nuclear with both parents working. They experience great difficulty in choosing day care centres and preschools with adequate safety and hygiene and security standards. Our mobile app Parent Connect provides live CCTV footage of all classrooms and open areas to parents through the day as well as meal and sleep updates. Moreover, all our centres adhere to the highest standards of hygiene and nutrition with balanced, healthy meals served to children,” says Singhal.
In early childhood education, Footprints preschools follow the deeply researched curriculum developed by the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, Michigan, USA. “The HighScope curriculum is based on activity-based pedagogies which prepare children to become independent thinkers and problem-solvers,” says Singhal. Monthly fees in Foorprints preschools range from Rs.6,500-12,000.
Future plans. Encouraged by the enthusiastic public response to Footprints pre-primaries across the country, Singhal has blueprinted plans to franchise the Footprints brand. “Our target is to sign up 360 franchisees by 2021. Moreover, we are all set to launch our first K-12 CBSE-affiliated school in Gurgaon in the next academic year. To fund our expansion plans, we have raised Rs.15 crore from angel investors,” says this rare edupreneur who evidently understands that professionally-administered high quality ECCE is a prerequisite of national development.
Odeal D’Souza (Bangalore)