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Advice From a Multi-Unit Franchisee: Kobad and Nancy Bugwadia, Mathnasium

1851 Franchise spoke with the Bugwadias about their journey in multi-unit franchising and their advice for the next great multi-unit owners.

Multi-Unit Franchisees: Kobad and Nancy Bugwadia

Franchise: Mathnasium*

Since 2009, Nancy and Kobad Bugwadia have successfully opened three Mathnasium learning centers in the Bay Area, with their most recent launching in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, California. Their mission is to help children build a strong foundation and develop a joy for math. 

1851 Franchise talked with Kobad and Nancy about their franchising journey with Mathnasium, their accomplishments in the industry and their advice for other entrepreneurs looking to become the next great multi-unit franchisee.

The transcript below has been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

1851 Franchise: Tell me about your background and what led you to focus on multi-unit franchising.

Kobad Bugwadia: I have a graduate degree in electrical and computer engineering, so my background is in the high-tech space. I've done a lot of research, engineering management, product development and providing services to meet customer needs. Whether developing a technology, product or service, understanding the needs of the end user and providing a great experience has always been key. I’ve also worked as a chief technology officer, planning five-year roadmaps for new technologies and products. Education has always been very important to us as a family, and we've focused on providing educational opportunities for our kids.

After working in the industry for some time, we wanted to combine our professional skills and passion for education on a larger scale. This opportunity came in the form of Mathnasium. When we opened our first franchise in 2009, Mathnasium was just gaining attention globally, and we were among the first 200 franchises to launch. Giving back to the community has always been a core value for us. Nancy has also been a crucial part of this journey, with her extensive experience in healthcare.

Nancy Bugwadia: I have a master's degree in nutrition and am a registered dietitian. I worked in acute healthcare for about 30 years before joining Mathnasium full-time almost three years ago. My health care career taught me the importance of education and mentorship, which I brought to Mathnasium. We opened our first center in Campbell, Los Gatos, in 2009, expanded to Mountain View, Los Altos, three years later, and recently opened our third center in Willow Glen, San Jose.

Kobad: To wrap up your question about our motivation, it was a well-planned, deliberate focus on building a strong foundation. Our first location did well, and after three years, we felt it was the right time to expand to serve more students in the Silicon Valley area. Recently, we opened another center in San Jose to be closer to customers who had to travel far for our services.

1851: What is your advice for managing operations across all locations most effectively?

Kobad: We use a mix of centralized and decentralized approaches. For example, Nancy and I centralize community involvement and school partnerships across all centers. However, some operational needs must be specific to each center. For instance, the focus of each team might differ based on the community’s needs, such as enrichment versus helping students catch up.

We recently had a meeting with all managers from our three centers to share best practices. We focus on three main pillars: excellent customer service, the right material, and great instruction. These principles can be replicated across locations while maintaining a unique experience for each center. Centralized tasks, like following up on web leads, can be standardized, while others are tailored to each community.

1851: How do you approach market research and understanding local market needs for each unit?

Kobad: Understanding the needs of our customers starts with communication and research. Familiarity with the local school district’s pathways provides insight into what parents and students need. We ask parents about their goals for their children and offer to collaborate with their teachers to align our material with school curricula. This approach ensures that our tutoring is relevant and impactful, building long-term confidence in our students.

Nancy: The first touchpoint is asking the parent, “What is your goal for your child?” It’s essential to go beyond just giving an assessment and creating a learning plan. By understanding the student’s goals and talking to the parents, we build a relationship. Engaging with the schools through math nights or assemblies also helps us understand community needs better.

1851: What resources or support networks do you recommend for multi-unit owners?

Kobad: The most important resource is Mathnasium’s corporate support. They offer webinars on various topics, sharing knowledge among franchises. Leveraging business manuals, best practices and support teams is crucial. Engaging with franchise business consultants and regional vice presidents can provide valuable insights and assistance.

1851: What closing advice do you have for those wanting to buy another unit or become a multi-unit owner?

Kobad: Knowing your community is essential. Marketing is always crucial, and building a strong team with a solid work culture is vital for scaling up. Engage with local schools and PTAs, join the local chamber of commerce, and collaborate with neighboring businesses for cross-marketing opportunities. Your first ten customers are your best brand ambassadors, and understanding the unique needs of each community is key to success.

Nancy: Your first ten customers are your best brand ambassadors. Understanding the unique needs of each community and building relationships with local schools and businesses is key. Always keep marketing and community engagement active, even with successful enrollment and growth.

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*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.