UCMAS India Pvt Ltd., the Chennai based nationally operating company which had introduced Abacus education in India, was started in the year 1999. Mr. Basheer Ahamed,MD- UCMAS India Pvt Ltd. shares the success story of his company in an interview with Nilesh Daivadnya.
 
Nilesh Daivadnya (ND): Tell us something about the inception and success of your company?
Basheer Ahamed (BA): UCMAS India Pvt Ltd., the Chennai based nationally operating company which had introduced Abacus education in India, was started in the year 1999. The Abacus education was then new to the country and UCMAS Company in India steadily grew to develop a large network and working through the franchisees established a great amount of awareness in public for Abacus education and the company feels that it has been a success to make Abacus education as an essential co-curricular activity. The company feels that the 1st stage of success has been achieved by it.
 
ND: What inspired your company to take the franchise route for expansion?
BA: Since Abacus education was new to India in the year 1999, introduction of the program in the schools was not possible initially. The company therefore took the Franchisee route. Further since a large amount of initial working was required and also there was a need to make the proposal to introduce the program with low investment the company to adopt franchisee route which has been the best possible one. In the process of developing franchise network a number of small entrepreneurs were made to benefit out of the activity.
 
ND: Did you face any competition in the industry? What strategies you had employed for handling the competition?
BA: In the year 1999 when the UCMAS Abacus Program was introduced, there was no other competitor. The very name “UCMAS” was meant for Abacus. UCMAS had therefore become a synonym for Abacus. Once the market started growing slowly, within a couple of years a few competition brands appeared in the market. UCMAS having the advantage of being the pioneer had helped the company tackle the competition successfully. Further UCMAS Company with its conceptual strength and focus on the quality delivery continued to stay as the leader in the Industry. Today UCMAS is the strongest brand in Abacus Education and the brand next in competition is far behind in its size and strength.

ND: What are the qualities and criteria for selecting the prospective franchisees? How much investment is required by these franchisees?
BA: The prospective franchisees are expected to make the required small investment and more than the investment their commitment to make goal oriented effort and quality delivery of program benefits are considered as the basic criteria for selection. The investment for a franchisee in a Metro city would be a maximum of 1½ Lakhs and it would only be less than a lakh if the franchise centre is going to be in B – Class town; much less it will be in a small town. The investment thus for UCMAS franchise business is very limited while the return on investment is very attractive and the franchisees, dedicated and hard working could get back the investment in less than a year.
 
ND: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
BA: UCMAS Abacus education has a mature market now after the initial setting-in period and the consolidation phase. The market potential for Abacus education is too huge. The business is expected to increase many folds and the franchise network is expected to be 2 or 3 times of the current size. UCMAS Abacus education is also expected to be adopted by private and Government schools. The business volumes would then be unbelievably high. Therefore a huge expansion of franchise network is expected in UCMAS.
 
ND: How does the company support and train their franchisees?
BA: UCMAS Company offers brand support, material and training to the Franchisees.
 
(ND: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
BA: UCMAS Franchisees actually need to forget about the problems as the potential for business is very large and scope is unlimited now. If well managed, the franchisees could do well with a continuous support of UCMAS Corporate office. The only challenge that might disturb the UCMAS franchisees would be from un-organized sector, i.e., Abacus tutors who operate individually as private tuition. While the un-organized market will be taking away some share of business, the major share which will be huge in size will be only with the brands and UCMAS as a leading and pioneering brand would have an edge among the other brands, and the UCMAS franchisees will therefore be able to comfortably over come the challenges.