Q&A with Shafik Mina, President of Mad Science & Crayola Imagine Arts Academy
In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn about the evolution of leading children’s science and art programs, Mad Science & Crayola Imagine Arts Academy. Shafik Mina, president of Mad Science & Crayola Imagine Arts Academy, will share with us how the brand has grown throughout the pandemic.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Welcome, Shafik. For those who aren’t familiar, can you please share a bit of background on Mad Science?
Shafik Mina (SM): Mad Science was founded in 1985 in Montreal, Canada by two brothers, Ariel and Ron Shlien. It started out with just three hundred dollars that Ariel had saved working a paper route in order to purchase a helium-neon laser. The brothers used the laser to offer laser light shows to local DJs, which piqued the interest of a teacher at a local Montreal YMCA. He brought the brothers in to offer his students a great grand finale to his course.
The brothers’ hobby of showing science experiments and laser shows to the children in their neighborhood continued to grow until it was a thriving business. In 1995, Mad Science began franchising with offices in Toronto and Miami. By 2000, the Mad Science Group counted 86 locations. We are proud to say that today, Mad Science has over 150 locations, all a part of a global franchise network in 20 countries.
Our cutting-edge programs focus on STEM, putting the brand in the perfect position to continue being the premier service provider in this expanding segment.
FC: Can you please share a bit of background on Crayola Imagine Arts Academy?
SM: Crayola Imagine Arts Academy is a theme-based art program that inspires children through art by developing their creativity and critical thinking. Our brand utilizes art programs as a medium to teach kids about real world topics like animal conservation, design careers, and cultural awareness.
Additionally, it’s an art enrichment program that inspires kids by showing them a creative process, thus minimizing creative inhibitions. Crayola Imagine Arts Academy encourages empathy and understanding through our many areas of business, such as after-school programs, camps, birthday parties, and community-based workshops.
FC: When did Mad Science & Crayola Imagine Arts Academy start franchising?
SM: Mad Science has been franchising since 1995 and now has over 150 Mad Science locations, all a part of a global franchise network in 20 countries. Crayola Imagine Arts Academy has been franchising since September of 2019. Currently, we have 23 total locations in the US and Canada, and 2 in development.
FC: Crayola Imagine Arts Academy is a newer brand. Can you share with us what inspired its conception?
SM: With Crayola Imagine Arts Academy, we are on a mission to bring creativity back to the classroom. Today’s kids are not developing critical motor, language, social, and decision-making skills required in today’s world. The truth is, due to chronic underfunding, creativity and innovation is rarely taught in the classroom today. This is despite 72% of business leaders saying that creativity is the number one skill they seek when hiring. We realized we had to do something, and Crayola Imagine Arts Academy was born.
Based on the success and history of Mad Science, we combined our knowledge with the world’s leading art company, Crayola, to create a brand that truly inspires children. Together, we’ve developed programs that combine traditional art with real-world applications and creative problem solving. I am passionate about this brand because these programs have been proven to help kids foster the creativity required for today’s world.
FC: What sets Mad Science & Crayola Imagine Arts Academy apart from other concepts in the children’s education space?
SM: For over 35 years, Mad Science has developed science programs that are kid-tested and approved. The brand arose from humble beginnings and we have always believed that hands-on, fun STEM experiences form the foundation of a lifelong love of science, technology, engineering, and math. No one else in the extracurricular space is offering exactly what we are offering in our programs.
Crayola Imagine Arts Academy is unique because it is not just an arts and crafts program. It teaches children skills of creativity, and imagination, as well as an awareness for the world around them. Children in the program will not only learn art techniques, but be exposed to topics including cultural awareness, animal conservation, design careers, and artists who changed the world.
FC: What processes and procedures have you put in place to ensure consistency across the brand? What do you look for in your ideal franchise candidate?
SM: We seek out professionals who display a strong business acumen, as well as being an excellent operator, detail oriented, and the ability to manage a team. Alternately, he or she can be a great salesperson and marketing professional. Each individual will take part in a comprehensive training program and is offered hands-on support from all team members. Each franchisee will also receive training and technology tools for quick onboarding, to ensure he or she will be set up for swift success.
FC: What is next for Mad Science & Crayola Imagine Arts Academy?
SM: Mad Science is hoping to sell 25 of our new exclusive territories that are available and we are happy to announce that nearly 90 percent of territories in the United States are sold out. Another exciting program we are looking forward to further developing is our ongoing relationship with NASA, for which we currently have many new projects in the works.
For Crayola Imagine Arts Academy, we would like to open 10 new franchises and hit 5 new markets in the next year. The brand also has two new innovative programs coming this August, Animal Emojis and Artblazers. Animal Emojis is an art birthday party where children can make animal shaped emojis out of clay, all while learning about self-expression. Artblazers is an after-school and camp program that showcases artists who changed the world such as Frida Kahlo, Yoko Ono, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol.
Both Mad Science and Crayola Imagine Arts Academy are targeting all 50 states for their franchise opportunities.
FC: What is the typical investment to open a Mad Science & Crayola Imagine Arts Academy franchise?
SM: For both Mad Science and Crayola Imagine Arts Academy, there is a franchise fee of $25,000, an equipment fee of $20,000, and a working capital fee of $20,000.
FC: How can people learn more about Mad Science & Crayola Imagine Arts Academy if they’re interested in franchising?
SM: For more information about the Mad Science franchise opportunity, visit www.madscience.org/opportunities.aspx
For more information about the Crayola Imagine Arts Academy franchise opportunity, visit www.imagineartsacademy.com/franchising.aspx
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