Jude Parker set up ComputerXplorers North Yorkshire in February 2012. Her husband Andy Parker (50) also works in the business.
Career and education background
Born in Dumfries Jude moved with her family to Sutton Coldfield at an early age. After studying for a degree in Social Sciences at Sheffield University Jude started working for a large brewery as a Marketing Assistant, where she stayed for 10 years moving her way up in the ranks and honing her marketing skills.
She then moved into Product Development with a small to medium sized bathroom and kitchen tap supplier based in the West Midlands. When Jude left the company 16 years later, as Head of Marketing, the company’s annual turnover had risen from £4m to £96m. It is now the UK’s largest supplier of bathroom and kitchen taps, showers and bathroom accessories.
Why choose franchising?
My husband and I decided that we wanted to move back up North to his birthplace, Harrogate, so we started looking around for a business that we could run together. Initially it was about finding the right kind of business and then I realised that increasingly I was being drawn to franchises. A proven business model and track record is an attractive proposition.
What was it about ComputerXplorers that appealed to you?
I wanted a business that had structure but that would also allow me to be entrepreneurial.
There is a lot of flexibility and scope with ComputerXplorers, not just in terms of the huge range of classes and curriculums available but also because there are a variety of different market segments and income streams to choose from, such as primary schools, nurseries and summer camps.
Most importantly, the business had to have added value in terms of providing us with real job satisfaction.We wanted to do something worthwhile and give back to the local community.
We’d spent years working in commercially focused jobs that left little time for anything else and we wanted a better work/life balance not just financial gain.
How did you first come across ComputerXplorers?
We first started chatting to ComputerXplorers at the The Franchise Show at Olympia. Later on we visited the British & International Franchise Exhibition in Manchester, but the more we researched different franchises the more we realised that ComputerXplorers ticked all the boxes.
How is the training and support offered by the franchisor?
The initial training was very comprehensive, involving stints both here in the UK and over in the US, where ComputerXplorers was originally formed. Both the support and training is very much on-going.
ComputerXplorers do exactly what they promise they will do and it helps that they are such a nice team of people to work with.
How is it going?
It’s been great and we’re doing really well. After only half a year we have a dozen after school clubs running.
The business model is very attractive, with lots of opportunities to make a good profit. It is a steep learning curve in terms of getting to grips with the different technologies and environments we come across but I think that because I’m more mature now, I can handle it much better than if I was in my 20’s or 30’s. I’ve got lots of life experience and I’m excited rather than daunted by the challenges that lay ahead.
Now that Andy has joined the business it’s great that we can hold our Board Meetings whilst taking a walk in the Dales, giving us that work/life balance we craved! That’s something we couldn’t have contemplated in our previous careers.
Ultimately, we’re delighted to be making a decent living doing something we really enjoy.
As a couple in franchising how do you work together?
Although we have different ways of working our individual skills complement each other very well. At the moment, whilst we are in the early stages, Andy is organising the back office and administrative processes whereas because of my marketing background I am more focused on sales. However, as the business grows and develops in the future we will be responsible for our own client accounts.
Do you have any advice to offer other women thinking of franchising?
I think franchising is an excellent way for women to start running their own company. They have the support of a proven business model whilst gaining the confidence and experience to develop their business the way they want. It is a very compelling way to become an entrepreneur.
ComputerXplorers – Helping Children Grow In A Digital World
ComputerXplorers is the world’s largest provider of technology education for children, with classes starting from the age of 3 and up to 13. The classes, clubs and camps take place in a variety of settings, in school and in-after school clubs, pre-school, nurseries and summer camps. ComputerXplorers gives children from an early age the tools to grow and develop in the digital world. By learning new, fun and exciting subjects, they are taught how to program, build and design using the latest software packages. Class activities include designing and building rockets, learning how to use GPS technology, designing phone apps and creating animated movies.
Helping children stay at the forefront of technology, ComputerXplorers classes and curriculums change to reflect the latest thinking in ICT. As well as gaining computer programming skills, children also improve their core academic skills, and because they are having so much fun they don’t realise how much they are learning.
ComputerXplorers provide the instructors, lesson plans, software and peripherals.
- Investment level: £29,500 + VAT
- Business type: Children’s computer tuition