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IDEA Lab Kids Targets Chicago as an Ideal Growth Market Due to the City’s Emphasis on Education and Family

The growing children’s education franchise has big plans to bring its innovative STEAM technology to the Windy City.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 10:10AM 09/20/19

Since its founding in 2011, Houston-based IDEA Lab Kids has become a huge concept in the children’s education segment, offering more than 1,000 unique courses and themed birthday parties to children ages 4 through 14. The courses all center on STEAM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and now Art—both Visual and Culinary. The engaging curriculum features everything from summer camp programs and pop-up classes to after-school and preschool programs and workshops, each designed to challenge, inspire and develop young thinkers. Now, IDEA Lab Kids is looking to bring its unparalleled and innovative educational program to the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois.

IDEA Lab founder and mother of three Ghazal Qureshi wanted her children to be involved in nourishing activities that expanded their horizons and opened their minds. In 2011, she left her high-paying job to create an after-school program that would provide an intellectually stimulating, hands-on educational experience for her children: IDEA Lab Kids.

The brand began franchising with just one location in February 2017 and since then, IDEA Lab has experienced phenomenal growth and interest. In just two years, IDEA Lab has doubled its growth every six months, with year-over-year sales increasing 23% for each of its eight established campuses. In total, 85 IDEA Lab campuses have been assigned to over two dozen franchisees in two short years. 

Currently with eight open locations in Texas, Florida and Maryland, the franchise also now operates in Canada and Ecuador. Although its heaviest U.S. concentration is in Texas, IDEA Lab Kids plans to award up to 700 domestic locations in the next four years, with its sights now set on a new target market: Chicago, Illinois.

“Chicago has everything that IDEA Lab Kids looks for in an ideal market,” said Qureshi. “As a huge metropolitan area, Chicago features a variety of great pockets in which supplemental education is a priority for parents. These affluent, young professional-heavy neighborhoods have proven to be great for our campuses.”

IDEA Lab Kids has diversified itself from other competitors in the children’s education segment by emphasizing a STEAM-focused learning environment. As opposed to brands that offer stand-alone silos with a focus on one specific activity, IDEA Lab Kids is proud to serve as a comprehensive education solution that integrates a variety of combined disciplines and demonstrates a unique model that satisfies its student’s ever-shortening attention span. As Qureshi stated, many neighborhoods in the Chicago metropolitan area feature a strong public school system and an emphasis on education, resulting in a high population of eager student learners and their parents looking for fun and engaging after-school activities. 

“Our successful STEAM system has been a huge draw for students and franchisees alike,” said Qureshi. “We make sure to enlist top talent from universities to empower our students in a safe, inclusive environment.”

The Greater Chicago area is home to some of the top-ranking universities in the country, providing an ideal opportunity for recruiting prestigious, tech-savvy adults who are eager to educate. IDEA Lab Kids is the first and only camp to guarantee a 12:1 student-to-instructor ratio, assuring that each student at every level receives empowering, personalized instruction. With more than 1,000 innovative STEAM courses, the franchise’s academic enrichment model has reached more than 25,000 IDEA Lab students and alumni.

The science camp concept is currently in negotiations for IDEA Lab campuses to open in Chicago next year, with an estimated market capacity of 20 to 25 units in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. According to Qureshi, the company offers incentives for multi-unit owners interested in three to five locations.

As soon as they sign on, IDEA Lab begins providing franchisees with a comprehensive resource system that includes marketing, business development and operational support.

“Our ideal potential franchisee is looking for a way to benefit the children of their community through education,” said Qureshi. “We are looking for franchisees who value education, whether that be an entrepreneur or a parent with whom the brand resonates or a young professional with a background in formal academia.”

IDEA Lab is currently rolling out a new proprietary online platform that will give parents a snapshot of their children’s progress and streamline curriculum delivery for franchisees and staff. That investment in leading technology, combined with a valuable curriculum tailored to the needs of today’s students, means that, when it comes to IDEA Lab’s growth, the sky’s the limit.

The franchise’s programs and processes are constantly evolving to meet the needs of young learners, families and franchisees. As IDEA Lab Kids continues to develop its successful franchise system and educational program, Chicago, Illinois is positioned to be the perfect location for further expansion. 

The total startup investment for IDEA Lab Kids ranges from $111,500 - $200,000 including a $35,000 single-unit and a $102,500 five-unit franchise fee. Financing options are available for those who qualify. For more information, please visit