Tell us about the concept of Mathnasium?
Luis: Mathnasium is the fastest growing international education franchise and is based on two main notions: (1) that it is easy to love Maths, once you identify and overcome the root causes of your frustration towards Maths; and (2) that each student is unique and has unique needs.
Most of the times we ‘hate’ Maths because somewhere along the road there were one or two foundational concepts which we did not understand and which, since that day, have haunted our entire mathematical construct. Not acquiring those core concepts at a younger age means you continue learning and building on top of a cracked foundation. As the body of knowledge accumulates over concepts you did not fully understand, the frustration and anguish increase exponentially, to the point where Maths becomes a subject you would rather avoid altogether.
Mathnasium is an after-school program in which we help our students understand the foundational concepts they have always struggled with, unlocking immediate satisfaction and self-confidence in the children and teens who attend our programs. To be able to do this successfully, we build a personalised curriculum for each student based on a deep understanding of each student’s unique situation (which we obtain through written and oral assessments of each student upon “take-in”).
How did it come about? Mathnasium is the brain child of…Tell us about yourself and why you decided to bring Mathnasium to Dubai?
Luis: I first came across Mathnasium in my home country Portugal, where I saw how powerful and impactful the programme was for children and teens. When I moved to the UAE in 2006 I saw many parents and students desperately looking for quality complementary educational programs to help them address their challenges (or get ahead) in Maths. I knew Mathnasium was the strongest program in Maths available, so I decided to explore options to bring the franchise to the UAE.
Claudia: it was over a dinner with Luis and other friends in the Summer of 2007, that the the first steps to building the Mathnasium franchise in the UAE were taken. In this dinner Luis spoke passionately about the Mathnasium concept but that he had not sufficient time to dedicate to building this business here. That’s where I stepped in and offered my support (as I have built up and managed franchises in my home country Colombia successfully in the past). From that evening onward we decided to “go for it” and apply for the Mathnasium UAE Master franchise.
Luis: When getting in touch with the Mathnasium Headquarters in the USA to talk about obtaining the UAE Master franchise, we quickly realized there were quite a few people interested in the Master Franchise, so we decided to build a detailed business plan, put together our credentials (I am a MBA graduate from Columbia Business School and a successful management consultant; Claudia is an established telecoms professional and entrepreneur), and make the trip to Los Angeles to do our pitch. To cut a long story short: we were successful and acquired to exclusive rights to Mathnasium in the UAE.
Why will Mathnasium appeal to parents living in Dubai?
Luis: First, our program really works – our students see an average improvement of 29 percentage points in just 10 sessions. Knowing that your child will get a fully customised, unique training plan tailored to his or her specific needs is a great reassurance that the program will have strong impact very quickly.
Second, Mathnasium helps parents cut on their tutoring bill, by offering a cost per hour which is significantly lower than private tuition – with even better results in test scores and, more importantly, in children’s attitude towards Maths. With the current level of school fees in Dubai, this really helps parents allocate their education investment smartly and get more for their money.
Third and lastly, more than any other place in the world, parents in Dubai are aware that their children will compete in a global marketplace. Mathnasium has helped thousands of students in building the Maths proficiency that Dubai parents know they will need to compete globally – not just making sure they catch up, but also helping them move ahead.
Claudia: I would like to stress that Mathnasium does not only improve the student’s Maths skills, but it increased their self-esteem (especially in cases of children that are struggling with Math in school). A strong belief in oneself will be of enormous value in life. l am a firm believer that self-esteem will help you to handle all kinds of situations in life with a positive attitude. To be able to contribute to this through Mathnasium is a privilege.
Do you cater for all math skill levels and age ranges? Tell us about the tutors involved, how do they engage with and encourage the children? How are the lessons structured? Is it fun for the kids?
Claudia: Mathnasium caters to children from ages from 3/4 years old (my own son started when he was 3), all the way up to late teens supporting them in preparing for SAT exams. Our students work as much as possible individually with their customized programs, but as per the Mathnasium teaching method at least every 5 minutes a Mathnasium professor will have a touch point with the student. Lessons are 60mins each, and typically twice a week. During this hour we work on the Mathnasium curriculum, but we also reserve time to provide homework support as required. The whole premise of the Mathnasium method is to teach children math in a way that makes sense to them, and in a way that they enjoy. We teach children how to embrace and have fun with Math, rather than be intimidated by it.
How many Mathnasium branches are there in Dubai? Are there plans for expansion across the UAE?
Luis: We opened our first Mathnasium Centre in 2008 in Knowledge Village, and this is still our flagship centre (Block 19, S-05). Since then we have opened Centres in Al Barhsa (Saratoga Building), Motor City (Apex Atrium Building), and in Mirdif (Uptown Mirdif). We have already secured a new location in Jumeirah Plaza where we will open our 5th Centre very soon. We are actively looking for new additional locations in Dubai, but also in extending our reach into Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. As Master franchisors we maintain a mix of fully owned Centers and partnerships with sub-franchisees to expand the Mathnasium family in the UAE.
Claudia: It is important to note here that we are following a very diligent process with our expansion which is taking its time, but delivers the highest quality results. We want to make sure that the high standards of the Mathnasium brand and product are not jeopardized by any means. Together with Eunice (the wife of Luis) I am running the operations of Mathnasium in the UAE which ensures very close involvement in each of the Mathnasium Centres in the UAE from a Master Franchise perspective. We ensure that best practices are shared and Mathnasium standards are applied, so that any Mathnasium student in the UAE has the same high-quality Mathnasium experience regardless of the Centre they choose to go to.
Luis: Recently we have also acquired the Mathnasium Master franchise rights for Bahrain, Oman, and Lebanon – hence we are also looking into ways to expand the Mathnasium franchise within the Middle East.