Business idea: LEGO robotics club
What questions to answer and how to reduce the likelihood of bankruptcy when opening a robotics circle. Ekaterina Dneprovskaya, director of the Edu-Kraft Programming and Robotics Center, shares her experience in organizing a business.
Enthusiasm and market rocks
The market for educational robotics circles is growing at an incredible pace, attracting enthusiasts and those who have long dreamed of realizing their dreams. Unfortunately, a textbook with answers to questions is not attached to the dream, so newcomers go through the same mistakes, repeating over and over the fate of those who have already crashed the ship on the "rocks" of the market. We share our story and have prepared a start-up entrepreneur checklist.
Go to any major shopping center and you will find dozens of jewelry stores. Bored salespeople fight for single customers. The market of circles, especially in Moscow, today is somewhat similar to the same huge shopping center. The same children attend the sections, moving from one company to another in search of better conditions. However, this does not scare those who decided to take an incredible step - to start their own business!
Easy market entry
Easy entry is one of the main differentiators that attracts aspiring entrepreneurs in the robotics hobby club market. It is enough to buy constructors and rent a room - and the circle is ready to go. And why is entrepreneurship considered so difficult ?! No one is even afraid to become No. 201 on the market, because everyone is sure that his project is unique and inimitable. We were the same.
Three years ago we held the first master classes and, like most modern startups (approx. business in the stage of formation of financial and business models), were young, confident of success, dreamed of becoming big and, possibly, rich, felt incredibly smart and savvy. We opened the Edu-Craft robotics and programming club. It seemed to us that everything was working out. Until the moment when fierce competition appeared on the market from clubs that offered the same thing that we do. So we became one of many.
The second call that something is wrong with the project was the turnover in groups and low business margins. We only counted finances for the first month and flattered ourselves that profits could be incredible. In fact, there is a shortage in groups and seasonality. Money - the "fuel" of any business - became less and less. By the summer of 2021, we were completely unprepared, and it was difficult. We made tentative attempts to “put out the fires,” but we acted with the same methods.
This seemed to us not enough, and we decided that it was time to grow. We opened 4 points six months after the start of the club. Today this may seem insignificant to some, but for newcomers without experience in business and leadership, it turned out to be almost disastrous. We didn’t know how to manage and control processes, teachers, and clients left. We, as teachers, spent more time than we earned on it. The co-founder of the project, Alexey, who taught robotics classes, took 30 kg of equipment home from the club on Taganka every Saturday, and from home to the building on South-West and back, and all this on himself. And so every week.
Once there was no money or energy left. We decided it was time to study. After that, a lot has changed. I won't say that we solved all the problems, but passed the first 2 years that were critical for a startup and remained on the market.
Designing robotics is an extraordinary hobby that can interest a modern child. It can compete with the entertainment and activities that the interactive information space offers. Pavel Baskir, founder and leader of the League of Robots project (Moscow), spoke about the need to search for new topical ways to attract young people to education and social adaptation, the prospects for the development of a network of robotics clubs and some features of organizing such an educational program as the Zhazhde business project.
The robotics circle as a business idea
"League of Robots" was founded in 2021 as a joint project of students and teachers of the Novosibirsk State Technical University. The organization was, rather, a club of interests, whose members were engaged in the development and design of robotics, took part in specialized events and organized seminars, competitions, conferences at local, national and international levels.
Over time, the "League of Robots" acquired a clearer structure, there were plans for expansion at the all-Russian level. For 4 years the Novosibirsk team gained experience in organizing a network of circles in the city and replicating this format in other cities. The team developed methodologies for more than 150 robotics lessons.
In 2021, the League of Robots franchise was acquired by a successful Moscow entrepreneur Pavel Baskir, who specialized in developments in the field of IT technologies.
At that time, he wanted to do educational robotics as a business and was specifically looking for ready-made formats.
"League of Robots" was the best company in terms of the quality and volume of programs, the experience of alienating its educational product to other cities and the charisma of the leader.
Pavel added his experience and experience of colleagues in the field of management to the methods and experience of the "League of Robots" for rapid replication in Moscow and creation of a system business.
I wanted to provide him with access to modern programming teaching tools, which are also related to the physical world. It so happened that on New Year's Eve I gave him a robotic construction set. His engineering structures interact with our real world through programs. I realized that this is a very interesting topic for learning and that your child needs to be given this knowledge systematically. I realized that there are not enough circles on the market and that the business is highly fragmented. After analyzing the situation, I discovered that there are interesting solutions in this business, and I decided to take them up. "
Start-up investments, organization of activities and management
When Pavel Baskir decided to head the project under consideration, he had no practical experience in the field of education. But there was an opportunity to search for new ways and strategies of development, there was a clear vision of the need to form a solid base for the actualization of technical education among children and youth.
With these ideas and a developed business plan, our hero turned to the Moscow Department of Education in search of support from officials. However, for 1.5 years, the "League of Robots" and the department have not found an acceptable form for interaction.
Robotics is a popular area of additional education. But if we are talking about starting not a simple circle, but about a club with a decent curriculum, then the efforts and amounts will be appropriate.
Today, parents who think in advance about the professional prospects of their children, first of all, pay attention to the areas of additional education related to the online sphere and technology.
Within the framework of the areas of additional education today, such a direction as EdTech stands out - from the English Educational technology - educational technologies. EdTech is a fairly broad concept that combines not only online learning, but also a strong methodological and technological component.
Projects and business lines operating in the EdTech market, which, according to experts, annually adds 100-150%, as a rule, are aimed not only at transferring the theory and information base to students, as traditional education does , but also on the achievement of practical results by students.
Naturally, the teaching methodology itself, the monitoring of results and other processes in EdTech are closely related to technology.
Such a format of business and education as a robotics club for children and adolescents should ideally be a fusion of modern technologies and teaching methods. Such clubs appear as an answer to the challenges of the time. Already now, many traditional professions are being replaced by robots, which means that in the near future the most popular and highly paid professions will be maintenance, repair and programming of robots. In the process of learning, children develop skills in designing robots, understanding the principles of their work and programming, developing logical and mathematical thinking, and expanding their knowledge of terminology.
Despite the fact that in Russia there are already about 2 thousand robotic clubs and several large networks are represented (“League of Robots”, “Robotrack”, Start Junior, “Robbo Club” and others), as well as more a dozen medium-sized companies (from 10 to 20 branches), experts expect a tenfold increase in the EdTech market by 2025.
Below we will consider strategies for opening such a promising business area as a robotics club and touch on the main points of business that a budding entrepreneur needs to consider.
The modern robotics club is not just a club or an after-school group where children have fun playing an intricate construction set. It is rather a school of additional IT education, which grows future IT engineers and specialists who should be in demand in new technology markets.
In schools, learning should be systematic and ongoing. This means that the organizers of the club need to develop a clear curriculum for 5 months or longer, preferably for 2-3 academic years.
Leading Analyst of the Institute of Training - ARB Pro
Roman Koposov, Head of Technological Consulting and Leading Analyst at the Institute of Training - ARB Pro, talks about the most promising niches for launching a robotic project in Russia.
The industrial robotics market in our country was formed back in the days of the USSR, but the acceleration of growth dynamics has been outlined only now. For the first time, the mark of one thousand sold robotic systems was passed at the end of 2021.
The trend for robotic production
More and more companies are seeing value in cutting costs, reducing risks and increasing the speed of operations by taking people out of routine, often repetitive operations.
Automation projects (in particular, the integration of robots into production and logistics processes) were launched by Uvelka, Forward, Dikom, NLMK, KAMAZ and Unilever.
So the introduction of robotic systems became part of large automation projects within the framework of Industry 4..
How to get to know your user and make money from it
The cascade of positive effects of robotization creates many market opportunities for integrators - companies that analyze existing processes, select equipment, create tooling and install robots.
Without a doubt, every child, and even an adult, knows and loves LEGO bricks. Those who grew up in the nineties remember how the guys gathered at the happy owner of this wonderful construction set and plunged into the delightful world of the game. Now this generation has already become an adult, but the memories and love for LEGO undoubtedly remained.
I must say that LEGO, which has already become legendary, has also constantly changed and improved during these years. And the past days, when there were very simple little people and colored bricks in the LEGO set, have long been in the past. Of course, for the smallest consumers, something like this is still on sale. But at the same time, the LEGO assortment has expanded significantly, and now you can purchase not only ordinary construction sets, but a wide variety of educational sets.
LEGO Building Blocks
The choice is huge. There are sets that develop abstract thinking in children, complex constructors that allow you to build a real robot that performs various actions. Thus, thanks to the wonderful and improved LEGO WeDo construction sets, children from 7 years old can receive the necessary and useful skills, improve their abilities. Robots from LEGO Minstorms Education are suitable for school children.
However, Russian-speaking admirers of this constructor will have to face certain difficulties. The fact is that the original LEGOs are produced only in English. And if the modification is difficult, but there is no knowledge of the language, problems may arise. Fortunately, there are already enough educational materials for LEGO Mindstorms special educational sets and other series for children. By the way, even adults will be interested in assembling and programming their own robot from such a constructor!
LEGO Robotics Business Children's Club
There is one more nuance - the price of your favorite constructors. They are not cheap. And if simple sets are affordable for an ordinary citizen, then not everyone can afford more complex and, accordingly, expensive. Especially in light of the recent volatile exchange rates.
Can we benefit from this situation? Of course yes! This is an opportunity to open children's LEGO courses. If such courses are not yet open in the city where you live, you can do this by creating your own business. And we are ready to help you with the complex equipment of such a business.
Contact Komplektant for advice and selection of LEGO Education sets for robotics circles!
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