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Why This Marketing and Sales Industry Professional Chose to Franchise with Mathnasium Learning Centers

Ellen Wheeler spent 21 years working in marketing for Kimberly-Clark and independent consulting before finding success with her supplemental education Mathnasium franchise.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 5:17PM 02/08/24

The story of Ellen Wheeler is a prime example of how franchising allows entrepreneurs to leverage their previous career experience to make a tangible difference in the communities they serve.

Wheeler is a seasoned marketing professional who embarked on a successful journey as a franchise owner with Mathnasium, the math-only tutoring franchise with 1,100 units that provides engaging individualized education.

Before joining Mathnasium five years ago, Wheeler spent over two decades in marketing, including a significant tenure at Kimberly-Clark and later as a partner in her own marketing consultancy. 

"I had the opportunity to learn about a bunch of different businesses, but I was always helping others grow their businesses instead of growing something of my own," Wheeler said. 

The road to Mathnasium franchise ownership wasn't exactly a direct one for Wheeler, who had never considered starting a franchise. But a personal situation led her down the unexpected path. 

”My son has a neurological disorder, and one day we were at the Mayo Clinic when a neuropsychologist asked if we had a Mathnasium Center near us,” Wheeler said. “My son had always struggled in math — we had tried private tutoring and hiring extra help, but nothing was working. The neuropsychologist had seen a number of patients show significant gains in their understanding of math, and the one thing they all had in common was that they had all attended Mathnasium in their hometowns. To me, that was more than enough reason to look into the concept.”

This personal connection and the subsequent due diligence led Wheeler to fall in love with Mathnasium's concept and mission to make a difference in children’s lives. 

“I’ve always loved developing strategies to help grow businesses, but I missed volunteer work and giving back to the community,” said Wheeler. “This felt like a perfect opportunity to do what I love from a corporate perspective, while also giving back and making a business out of it.”

Wheeler opened the doors of her East Appleton Mathnasium franchise in 2018 with seven students and two instructors. In the five years since, she says the center has seen significant growth. 

“It has been an amazing experience thus far — I really wish I would have done it sooner,” Wheeler said. “I am a single-center owner, and I am happy with that. I have a beautiful ability to run a successful business, but I still get the warm feeling of making a real difference for families.”

In terms of her experience as a franchisee, Wheeler emphasizes the balance she maintains in her business. Operating the retail portion for around 20 hours a week allows her to work from home, managing parent inquiries and leads. Her involvement at the center from Monday to Thursday is hands-on, focused on delivering the best experience possible. Wheeler's success is a testament to the franchise's flexible business model that enables meaningful community contribution.

And Wheeler says her personal Mathnasium journey has come full circle, with her son heading off to college. 

“When we opened our doors, my son was one of my first students,” she said. “He was a student for five years and saw significant growth of the fundamentals. It was amazing to experience those benefits first-hand — the battle over the kitchen table is real for parents, but we have great instructors who are able to work with them and provide real benefits.”

Looking ahead, Wheeler says her goal is simple: “Help as many students as we can." Her story is not just one of business success but also of personal fulfillment. Wheeler's journey with Mathnasium illustrates how diverse professional backgrounds can translate into impactful educational entrepreneurship.

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