Young Ones to Watch: Jennifer Turliuk of MakerKids
Young Ones to Watch: Jennifer Turliuk of MakerKids

MakerKids' CEO explains how the brand stands out from the competition.

1851: What was it that drew you into franchising?

Jennifer Turliuk, CEO of MakerKids: Year over year, we see more demand for programs like MakerKids and the impact we are making is phenomenal, from kids improving their school grades to making new friends. We want to reach as many kids as possible and make our programs accessible.

1851: What do you do to help your brand stand out from the competition?

Turliuk: There are several other kids after school programs and many moving into the digital and tech arena. What makes us really stand out is MakerKids gets results. Past graduates have started businesses, been featured on national TV and have taken leadership positions in and outside of school. One of the ways we do that is through incorporating a full set of skills in our programs, that are not just technical skills. We work on 21st-century skills like confidence, resilience and creativity. This allows kids to take it a step further and truly becoming innovators and entrepreneurs. We don’t see many other companies doing this.

I think this is one of the reasons we recently won the NextGen in Franchising competition at the International Franchise Association, from over 400 entrants. 

1851: How did you get in the role you’re in now?

Turliuk: When I was 12 years old, one of my enrichment assignments was to create a website for a book report. I completed the assignment and put it aside. Little did I know, it had received hundreds of thousands of views! I was a fairly introverted child and faced bullying. However, this project was a transformative and empowering moment for me. I saw I could create something amazing and something that other people enjoyed as well. At MakerKids, we aim to give kids an opportunity for a transformation, self-discovery and to become creators not consumers.

Soon after, I went to university and was accepted to a prestigious Graduate Studies Program based at NASA called Singularity University, where we learned about exponential technologies such as 3D printing and robotics and how to apply them to education.

1851: What advice would you give to other young up-and-comers?

Turliuk: For anyone starting a new business or for those just igniting an idea, I would advise to embrace it! Leap in and take risks in something you believe in. A lot of experimentation, testing and thinking out of the box will help you find your advantage and propel your company forward.

1851: What are some things you like to do in your spare time?

Turliuk: I enjoy a range of activities. It’s important to step outside your comfort zone, try new things and learn from those that are more experienced than you. This may include creative writing, improv, connecting with other entrepreneurs and reading books from other experts. We encourage our staff to do the same as well.