Neha Garg and Pooja Erande, owners of the first-ever Indian-franchise of Enjoy-a-Ball, a UK based multi-sports program that introduces children in the age group of 3-10 yrs to 10 popular ball sports. Enjoy-a-Ball uses fun as a factor to introduce sports to young children. Once a week 1 hr class for each child. It is the first-ever franchise to be started in India since 2012. The Journey and Work of both Neha and Pooja are more than what it seemed as we progress KYETalks with them
Enjoy-a-Ball is a unique multi-sport program that introduces young children to 10 popular ball sports in a fun way. Originated in the Enjoy-a-Ball is constantly enhanced and upgraded by sports experts and child psychologists to develop many aspects of a child’s life through sports. The program has also won many awards in the or its high standards and quality of coaching. Enjoy-a-Ball franchisees and coaches come from a carefully selected group of people, trained to a very high standard and with an te awareness of the impact they can have in a child’s life. We are the master franchise in India and as of now, we’ve got 12 franchise centers across Mumbai and 1 in Chennai.
KYE: What was the motivation behind starting this franchise?
Pooja: An absolutely relevant question for any entrepreneur while talking about their journey. You’re right, there are many businesses out there and one chooses a particular business based on what appeals to them the most. For Neha and me it has primarily steering from our own needs as parents of 3-year-old kids back in 2011. So we were searching for a program, a physical activity class to be precise, for our young children. When we looked for such classes in Mumbai, we realized most of these sports programs were offered for children in the age group of 6 years and above. Even the very few that were around they were very unstructured and the coaches had limited ability to engage with pre-school age children. So we realized the children were losing confidence and they were not enjoying as much as they should at that age. So that made our search around, primarily online to know if there is anything more that we can offer to our 3-year-olds back then and that’s when we stumbled upon Enjoy-a-Ball which is a UK based program. The more we learned about it we realized ita a very specially designed program for young children and it’s a very scientific approach in developing their physical skills. It has age-appropriate activities, equipment and they focus on children having a wider platform at a very young age. We could call it a nursery school for sports. When we learned it we really got excited about the concept and we figured that it really has to be brought to India. We were quite confident that there are parents like us who’d welcome this concept in India. That was our biggest motivation. After we learned about it we definitely wanted to embark on that journey. It was also the time of our lives when we quit the corporate world and we’re looking for something exciting to start. This franchise was a good mix of opportunities at that time.
KYE: How has the current pandemic affected you? What were the modifications you had to do with the franchise?
Pooja: Neha and I find ourselves quite innovative on that front. We have adapted to many scenarios, one of the most remarkable one would be that we have endured this pandemic we have been able to adapt Enjoy-a-Ball to a home-based format. We’ve moved to online classes and children are actually a practising a lot of activities that we used to do in the class at their homes. That’s something that we are really excited about considering there are so many constraints now for children to step out and have the similar learning environment that they had in the past.
KYE: What would you say gives you a sense of accomplishment?
Neha: There are a lot of things but to top the list, for me and Pooja, when we see the little Enjoy-a-Ballers (that’s what we call all the children ate Enjoy-a-Ball) smiling and enjoying themselves in our classes we feel like we have accomplished a great deal of something. We are a fun-based program and seeing them smile and hearing their laughter gives us a high. It’s very satisfying. Another valuable aspect of running this program is parents recognize the importance of Enjoy-a-Ball and learning their child’s sporting abilities as well as life-skills, when that is recognized we realize we have achieved what we’ve wanted to i.e. the parents seeing the difference in their children. So being able to positively impact a child’s life and help them transform into healthier, happier, and more confident beings are greatly satisfying. This program has allowed us to achieve it. Another aspect, we being the master franchise and being able to give opportunities to different people who come on-board with us, it’s extremely satisfying to give them a successful business opportunity to our franchisees which gives them a work-life balance as well as financial independence.
KYE: What were the challenges or barriers you faced as new entrepreneurs, especially with being moms yourselves?
Pooja: Every entrepreneurship journey has its own challenges and barriers to be overcome and that’s the joy of entrepreneurship I feel. Identifying and overcoming those barriers and still continuing the journey, just pushing yourself to higher levels. It was a fairly new program in India, so while the kids loved it the parents weren’t really familiar with the importance of providing the kids with a variety of sports –skills at a young age v/s starting to specialize them in a single sport. It was a journey for us to make them aware of the importance of this program so they would stay with us for longer and a wider set of parents had acceptance for it. It was something we discovered that as parents we welcomed it quickly but there was a set of parents in India that still needed to understand which is better, a multi-sport program v/s a single-sport program. We have beautifully overcome that by creating an orientation module for Indian parents where we give them an understanding of how developing sports-skills is similar to academic skills. That was one barrier we faced with Indian parents and we can say its quite well accomplished now.
KYE: At this point, what is required of you to achieve your business aspirations?
Neha: Over the years we’ve developed a lot of experience to successfully run the franchise-model of Enjoy-a-Ball with our current franchisees in Mumbai and Chennai. As the next logical step, e aspire to spread the joy of Enjoy-a-Ball to as many children as we can, and for that, e are planning to expand in other cities in India. That is our endeavor as of now to be able to expand as much as we can outside Mumbai. As Pooja mentioned the profile of a franchise holder is a good mix of a person having entrepreneurial skills as well as being active and the most important factor is being passionate about building a child’s life because at the end of the day we deal with little children and unless you are committed, passionate and true to what you are getting into you wouldn’t achieve success.
KYE: How has Enjoy-a-Ball changed you as a person?
Pooja: There is no doubt about that. In fact, there’s a good take away from the program so I’d like to answer on the personal front because it has really added value to my life. Enjoy-a-Ball has changed me and Neha as well as mothers. There is so much to learn from the program in the way it understands children and gives us the understanding that certain set of life-skills are really important children in their growth-years. The only way to help them attain those life-skills is by giving them a positive and happy environment. So when your children are happy you are happy as a parent. The methodology they use to teach the children is a huge take-away even for you as a parent. It really builds us as much better mothers and allowed us to develop some very good life-skills like confidence.
Neha: I’d like to add that we ourselves have also chosen to be active and playing sports because of Enjoy-a-Ball. So, it has really helped us on a personal level as well. Pooja covered most of the personal front, I speak of the professional front. It has been an enthralling journey for us. Each day we’re learning new aspects of heading an organization, from legal to accounting to meeting new people to building new ideas, building interest and passion in sports for children, keeping up the expectations of the parents, identifying and sustaining resources, there’s a lot I can go on and on. These are the challenges we face on a daily basis, so we’ve been sailing through and successfully overcoming all the hurdles. To sum it up our Enjoy-a-Ball journey has been a very fruitful 360° valuable experience. It’s been 9 years now and its quite exciting the way it has gone, looking forward to more.
KYE: What are the words of wisdom you’d like to share with the budding entrepreneurs out there?
Pooja: As for me, personally I believe that considering entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride. There are many ups and downs and you will constantly challenge and you will also have sweet success as well. What makes you a remarkable entrepreneur is what you chose to do in a challenging situation, you have to be a problem-solver and if you are one whenever you are in a problem you will focus on finding a solution. You may not have all the skills, you may not know everything but when you have that mindset whenever you get stuck you look for a solution and move forward. Also, don’t give up if you believe in the concept. Neha: As Pooja said, having a vision and belief in your program is of paramount importance because along with way there will be rejections there will be barriers and success points as well. Each having its own experience. If you’re true to what you’re doing and if you have a strong belief then you will overcome each and every challenge coming your way.
Quick Pro Info:
Phone(s): 9820644530 / 9820413472
Address: Kandivali W, Mumbai
Watch the entire interview here-