Many industries have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For some, operations came to a screeching halt, for others there were opportunities to adapt business models to meet the evolving needs of this new way of life. Being a successful business owner during this time of ever-changing rules and regulations takes determination and drive, and a little creativity doesn't hurt either. Snapology's business model is based on bringing children together for hands-on, play-based S.T.E.A.M. education. When it became apparent that schools would be closing, Snapology found a way to adapt while still retaining the core values of educational enrichment, social development, and fun.
In this series of Franchisee spotlights, we are asking some of our Snapology franchise owners to share their experience of trying to not only survive but thrive during this difficult time. This week we talked to Snapology of St Pete owner, Daniel Adam. Daniel shared his struggles, successes, and how he knew that owning his own business was the right move for his family.
What did you do before starting Snapology?
Before starting Snapology of St Pete I worked in the corporate world for about 8 years. After graduating with my bachelors and masters in Accounting from USF, I worked for two big accounting firms: PWC & Deloitte. After that I did mergers & acquisitions work for Xerox. Then I spent some time doing finance work for Outback Steakhouse.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
Two main reasons: the love of teaching and the example my parents instilled in me. During my time at USF I was a TA for the accounting department. I really enjoyed teaching and even thought about getting my PhD in Accounting. Tired of being a broke college student, I started my corporate accounting career after graduating with my masters. Though the experience I gained working in the corporate world is immeasurable, I never got the same feeling as when I was teaching at USF.
My parents were also a huge part of my decision in starting my own business. They are 1st generation immigrants from Poland. With very little education but a strong work ethic and determination, they were able to start and sell multiple businesses. First they had a Polish deli, then they owned store front rental properties, and currently they own a motel and campground. Seeing them work for themselves throughout my entire life gave me an appreciation for owning a business.
Knowing I wanted to do something in the education field and wanting to be a business owner, Snapology was a perfect fit!
Why did you choose Snapology?
This one is easy: THE CURRICULUM! Snapology’s robust curriculum included all the things I was looking for. S.T.E.M., and now S.T.E.A.M., were at the top of my list. Coding was also high up there. I believe that children will need to have a strong grasp of these subjects in order to be successful in our changing world.
What was the first piece of business you secured?
The first partner I ever secured is a beautiful school across the street from St Pete Beach called Montessori by The Sea. The head of the school, Karen Riccardi, has been so supportive of our program from the very start. The philosophy and mission of Montessori schools are very similar to Snapology’s. Both programs pride ourselves on hands-on education. Snapology’s after-school enrichment program has grown tremendously in our short time at the school and the feedback from parents and students has been amazing.
Can you tell me about some other successes you have had?
Other successes I’ve had with Snapology is being able to provide S.T.E.A.M. classes to 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). The 21st CCLC program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. Being able to bring Snapology classes to these students is one of the most rewarding things I’ve been able to do in my entire career.
How have you adapted your business in light of Covid-19?
Two items that I’ve adapted in light of Covid-19 is giving parents the choice between in-person versus virtual classes and being hyper-focused on cleaning and sanitizing materials. Giving parents the choice between in-person and virtual classes gives all children the opportunity to participate in Snapology’s classes. Cleaning, sterilizing, steaming, etc has been a huge priority since the emergence of Covid-19. We want to be sure that students and parents who do chose to take our in-person classes have the cleanest and safest materials in order for them to have a safe, fun, and educational experience.
Have you developed any interesting hobbies during Covid?
Not really a hobby but I’ve gotten a 2nd full time job of raising my daughter Cecilia. Cecilia was born in October of 2019. It’s been a crazy but rewarding experience to raise her during the pandemic. Both my wife and I work from home so juggling work and raising our daughter has been a challenge. At the same time, we will always cherish the extra time we’ve had with Cecilia at such a critical age. Being able to watch her grow and develop is the greatest silver lining of all that’s happened in the last year.
Where do you see your business in the next few years?
I see Snapology of St Pete continuing to grow and making an even greater impact in the community. I want parents and children of the community to instantly know or recognize the Snapology of St Pete brand as well as what it represents. Educating the children of the community has been a goal from the start and will continue to be a goal and focus going forward.
What do you love most about Snapology?
One of the things I love most about Snapology that I haven’t mentioned already is the “light bulb” moment. There have been many times when I’m teaching a class, going through a specific topic like engineering or coding, and I see a student have the “light bulb” moment. They are able to finally understand a difficult concept through hands-on learning, including trial and error, that gives them a huge smile and glee on their face. I can see the gears (pun intended) turning in their heads as they finally understand the concept and are tying it to other situations or scenarios outside of the class. It’s a great feeling that I know I will never get tired of.
Any advice for those thinking about investing in a franchise?
Take that step, take the risk! I know it’s scary. It’s still scary 2 years into owning a Snapology franchise but I have never regretted taking the risk of being a business owner. As an accountant, I’m one of the least risk averse people out there. I was actually thinking of starting a Snapology franchise 2 years before I finally decided on it. At the time, I got a new job and thought that it wasn’t the right choice to start a Snapology franchise. Though I enjoyed progressing my corporate career I never stopped thinking about Snapology. With the announcement of our daughter on the way I knew that if I didn’t take the risk now I may never. If you have a passion for education and want to be a business owner, take the step and take the risk!
What do you like to do when you are not working on Snapology?
As discussed before, my 2nd full time job is raising our daughter Cecilia. Along with that, I’ve tried to spend as much time as possible with my wife and family. There are many things I’ve learned during this pandemic and one of the most important lessons was not taking things for granted. Family time, whether it’s in-person or virtual, is something I try to focus on every single day as you never know when spending that quality time together won’t be an option.
Anything else you would like to share?
Starting and growing a business during a pandemic has not been easy. There are challenges at every turn and sometimes things can seem overwhelming. At the same time, I’ve learned so much during this time that I might not have learned if things went smoothly. I know how hard I have to work in order to make this business grow. I know how hard things can get when the entire world is shut down. I have overcome so much during this time and it has made me a stronger person. Stronger as a husband & father and also as a business owner. I’m looking forward to taking everything I’ve learned and continuing to incorporate it while I build the name and brand of Snapology of St Pete!
Snapology owners across the world are excited to begin to safely offer in-person classes, camps, field trips and parties again. You can see the latest information by visiting the website of a location near you. If you have any questions for Daniel, or any of our owners let us know in the comments.