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Description: ComputerXplorers is a home-based franchise aiming to help children aged 3 to 13 discover their technology and computer skills through exploration in fun weekly classes. Opportunities: Opportunities available in UK and Ireland. Master License opportunities available in Ireland. Business Type: Franchise. Minimum Investment: £10,000. Financing Assistance: Yes, through a third party. Training Provided: Yes. Home-based: Yes.

Case Study: Stephen Hall

Stephen Hall, 35, was born in Omagh, Northern Ireland, where he spent his childhood before moving to England in 1994, aged 18, to study for a Degree in Environmental Engineering at Sunderland University. Stephen has been running ComputerXplorers Birmingham East with his partner, Fiona McGuigan since January 2011.

Career Background
After graduation in 1997 Stephen started working for a local pub company in Middlesbrough before moving to Bolton to work for a national pub chain. He eventually managed the company’s flagship pub on Broad Street in Birmingham. “I really enjoyed the social side of the job and it’s where I met Fiona which was a big highlight.”

In 2003 Stephen decided to take a year out, to travel around Europe and Scandinavia, before returning to the UK to work for a national bowling and
leisure venue in Birmingham. After 3 years Stephen moved back home to Belfast where he worked in various sales roles, selling all manner of products from electronic cash systems to industrial storage systems. It was during this time that Stephen and Fiona decided that they’d like to move back to England and run their own business.

What made you decide to open your own business and why franchising?

“I ran the pubs and bowling venues as if they were my own business and that ethos was very much encouraged by management. On the downside you don’t really get the full reward for it so I always wanted to do something for myself. I preferred the relative security of a franchise over opening an independent business from scratch.”

Why ComputerXplorers?

“I picked up What Franchise magazine at Birmingham airport when Fiona and I were flying back to Belfast and noticed ComputerXplorers. I’m a self confessed computer geek and love messing around with computers and new bits of software, so it’s right up my street. The idea of combining my interest in ICT with having fun with kids really appealed to me.”

What happened next?

“We did a bit more research, met with the franchisor, Nigel Toplis, and went to see a class in action. That really sealed the deal. I wasn’t prepared for how brilliant the classes were and to see the children being so enthusiastic and absorbed really sold it to me.

“We decided to set up ComputerXplorers Birmingham East and moved back to England on New Years Eve 2010, all ready for a New Year and a new start!”

How are things going?

“We planned for one of us working on the business and the other finding a job, but it’s taken off so quickly that we’ve both been full-time from the start. We’re way ahead of our business target and have maintained our standard of living, which is pretty amazing for our first year in business.It’s the best job I’ve ever had and I loved my other jobs! I never feel like I’m going to work.”

Would you recommend ComputerXplorers to potential franchise owners?

“Most definitely and I’ve already encouraged some prospects to go for it. Teaching children is even more fun and satisfying than I thought it would be. “We get to work with children from all walks of life. For example we were recently asked to run cartoon-making sessions with children who visit hospital regularly. The aim is to make their visits more enjoyable, teach them some new skills and give them an outlet to express their feelings. It gives me such a buzz making a living doing something so worthwhile.”


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