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How This Scientist Partnered with IDEA Lab Kids to Share His Passion for STEAM with Children in the Cypress, Texas Community

After traveling the world, Shivam Bhakta decided to embark on a new adventure by opening an IDEA Lab Kids location in Cypress.

STEAM is Shivam Bhakta’s life. That's why, when the engineer/scientist was introduced to the idea of franchising with IDEA Lab Kids, the STEAM-based supplemental education brand, Bhakta immediately knew it was the right choice.

IDEA Lab Kids started franchising in 2017 with their first location in Austin, Texas. It has since grown to 106 assigned locations with 7 operating locations in the greater Houston area. The brand set itself apart from the competition by offering science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) educational opportunities. Visit their website at cypress.idealabkids.com.

Bhakta started his career with ExxonMobil Global Projects as an engineer in 2017. In December 2019, he took a sabbatical to backpack around the world with his girlfriend. They explored over a dozen countries, got scuba certified, and volunteered with NGOs, like an animal shelter in Thailand. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cut the trip short and the two ended up flying home from Tokyo in April. This month, Bhakta will begin a new career with the federal government working for the National Nuclear Security Administration as an Engineer / Physical Scientist in Washington DC.

“As my career shows, STEM is truly my bread and butter,” said Bhakta. “I’d been looking into different STEM concepts to invest in for a while, whether it be nonprofit organizations or after-school programs. My personal accountant, Angeli Arjunani, happened to come across the opportunity with IDEA Lab Kids, and she brought the idea of franchising to me. She is a mother in the Cypress community, and we enlisted the help of another local mother in the area, Sarasija Vedala, to partner with us and help start the process. IDEA Lab Kids really felt like the perfect fit for all three of us.”

Bhakta and his two partners had a soft opening for their first IDEA Lab Kids location in early-July. The Cypress, Texas location has already brought in 80 enrollments, with all classes in July being held virtually. They are now hosting in person camps and workshops, following strict COVID protocols with employees and students wearing masks, going through temperature checks, and socially distancing in small groups.

“Virtual classes have been a great way to keep our community on track while kids are out of schools,” said Bhakta. “We are also planning to offer IDEA Lab Plus, a concierge school experience that encompasses all of the aspects of STEAM that kids know and love, mixed with school support to help children succeed with their lessons and homework, allowing parents to bring them for multiple days a week. Parents will get the safety of small group interactions for their children and the social benefits of in-person schooling while everything is still virtual.”

Bhakta notes that IDEA Lab Kids is the perfect addition to the Cypress area. “The schools in this area are pretty strong, and as the world becomes more technologically advanced, with companies like Google and Tesla popping up every day, we need more thought innovators,” he said. “I was surprised by the overwhelming demand for STEM classes, both from parents and children alike. There are a lot of kids who love playing Minecraft and want to code or love playing with goo and want to learn the science behind it. There is a growing demand for STEM classes, and IDEA Lab Kids offers us a lucrative and rewarding opportunity to fulfill that need in the community.”

While Bhakta doesn’t have any immediate plans to open more locations, the brand is hoping to bring three more locations to the northwestern Houston suburbs.

“In the future, my dream is to start connecting with more and more schools in the area and have so much interest that we are able to start up a robotics club and other after-school programs that are outside of our campus,” Bhakta said. “We want as many kids as possible to be excited about STEAM, and IDEA Lab Kids is a great place to start.”

The startup costs for an IDEA Lab Kids franchise range from $160,500 to $373,000. The franchise fee is $35,500. To learn more about franchising with IDEA Lab Kids, visit https://www.franchise.idealab kids.com/.

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