Success story | Pingu’s English Myanmar
Pingu’s English Myanmar joined our global network of partners in June 2016 and launched their first Pingu’s English School in February 2017. Here Bryan Yen, Chief Executive Officer of Pingu’s English Myanmar shares his rationale for securing the exclusive Master Franchise rights to Myanmar, and some of his aspirations for the business for the years ahead.
• What was your background before you became the a Master Licensee for Pingu’s English Myanmar?
My family has been in the hotel industry since I was very young. After I completed my higher education in Singapore, I decided to work in Singapore to gain some experience in the private education sector. During my work experience in Singapore, I was working with embassies from UK and Australia, helping them undertake business development in South-East Asian countries such as Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. After I had developed a fair share of experience in Singapore, I decided that I wanted to come back to Myanmar and help my family business. So, I started up a new hotel that has been currently running for about 1½ years. After that, we identified and secured some partners to venture into the pre-school education business.
Two of my Directors for Pingu’s English in Myanmar are Evan Chor and Gabriel Wong.
Gabriel’s background before joining the Pingu’s English business, was undertaking
consultancy for companies who wanted to franchise.
Meanwhile, Evan was previously in the aerospace industry doing business development across the Asia-Pacific. The reason he wanted to invest in the Pingu’s English business here was because when he came to Myanmar a number of years back, he saw that with the education system over here, there was a very big opportunity. Both the schools here (and the parents!) needed a good education for their children and there was a very big demand for that. So, after looking at the Pingu’s English curriculum and their teaching methods, we collectively viewed that there was a great match.
• What is the potential of the children’s English language training market in Myanmar?
There is a definite need for quality education in Myanmar. I believe that it is important to find affordable, quality education for the children of Myanmar to build a strong foundation for them. That is why we decided that Pingu’s English was the right choice for us, because the quality of the curriculum, coupled with the pricing strategy we have developed, we believe will be just right for a market like Myanmar.
• What business model(s) are you using to generate revenues for Pingu’s English Myanmar?
We’re implementing business models that are well-known to other Pingu’s English partners in the world. Our model includes having a corporately owned flagship center, which is 3,500sq ft and has five classrooms.
We’re also offering franchising opportunities to the local Myanmar market. So, we are willing to give sub-licenses for other areas of Myanmar to investors.
Also, we are exploring a program-licensing strategy – in effect offering the Pingu’s English program to schools. One of the things that we have also recently done is co-operate with the Save the Children international charity to supply our Pingu’s English curriculum to their early childhood centres across Myanmar. Through this, the Pingu’s English curriculum has currently reached 347 schools across Myanmar.
• Your first activity was a summer camp and you recruited 60 students into your first intake! How have parents and children responded to it?
Yes, our first activity was a summer camp, and our target was 40 students. We were therefore delighted to recruit 60 students into our first set of classes! Most of the children we have from this summer camp, are within the age of 2-5 years – that is where the majority is coming from. Many are experiencing their first time in a classroom and their first school. This can of course be daunting. But after conquering that challenge during the first two weeks, the children have started learning very quickly, especially speaking and listening English vocabulary. When they get back home, (and what the parents have been giving us as feedback is), that they’ve started shouting out words in English and singing Pingu’s English songs. And that is just at the very preliminary stage of our summer camp, – after week 5 to week 10, children have improved their reading and writing very exponentially and we’re of course delighted to see that.
• How does the Linguaphone Group support you as a Master Franchisee?
The support has always has been great, starting with the training, where the Training team came over to Myanmar to train our teachers, train us on the management side, for instance how to operate a school, as well as give us a lot more understanding of the teaching methods and resources. This was all very helpful for us because the three of us are not from the education background so being able to do this very detailed training helped us a lot.
The sales and marketing training was also good for us, because we learned how to sell the course and English program to parents. We also learnt what other questions we might face in the future, and how to answer them. So, the role playing, the activities we do with our staff to prepare for the questions that will be asked by the parents was also very helpful.
There has been a lot of remote support too from the Linguaphone Group. We’ve had weekly calls from our Business Development Manager to see if there is anything that she can do to help. The personalised marketing support from the team we receive at HQ has been great too, particularly in terms of designing certificates for our summer camp! Whenever we’ve requested any support by e-mail, the team in London has been very responsive.
I would also say the partner Extranet resources are very useful. Whether for the children, for our curriculum or our marketing we can download everything including training material, the education material, teacher manuals and guides etc. This is very useful for us especially on a day-to day basis where we need to share a lot of information with our teachers. Having access to these online resources is very good for us.
A big thanks to the whole Linguaphone Group HQ team for all the great support we’ve received, and particularly our dedicated Business Development Manager, who has been fantastic supporting us through our journey so far!
• And what plans for Pingu’s English in Myanmar in the future?
We’re planning to open two new centres in 2019, offering the new Pingu’s English international kindergarten curriculum, as well as continuing developing our existing pre-school Pingu’s English enrichment program across Myanmar.
The feedback from parents during the summer camp was so positive that they wanted to let their children spend more time at our Pingu’s English School from Monday to Friday over the course of the next nine months. So we know there’s a demand for the kindergarten program too.
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