Today, I spoke with Dr. Ken Gibson, Founder of LearningRx, and listened to quite a fascinating story of an entrepreneur. Ken was an Optometrist, with a strong interest in business, and at some point, provided business consulting to over 300 Optometrists, before developing the methodology for training people to learn that is now at the heart of LearningRx.
LearningRx provides cognitive skills training that improve the brain's ability to process information. The LearningRx training programs go beyond the symptoms of academic struggles to attack the root problem - the limitations to the student's ability to learn. The training enhances underlying cognitive skills required to learn effectively - auditory processing, attention skills, comprehension, visual processing, memory, and problem solving. Once strengthened, these skills enhance the student's capacity to learn.
Ken stresses, "It's training, not teaching or tutoring. It's like giving a lecture on Piano versus training someone to play the Piano ..."
The best competing reading & learning program called Lindamood provides 2.3 years worth of improvement in 142 sessions. Ken's program provides 4.8 years worth of improvement in 72 sessions.
In 1989, Ken started licensing this methodology to doctor's offices and such, but soon realized that he needed a franchise infrastructure to reach more people. In 2002, he opened a Colorado Springs center, which within 4 months of existence threw up $225,000, with about 70 students participating over 3-6 month average duration.
Ken believes, engineers, not necessarily teachers, make his best trainers. Many engineers work at his centers, wanting to make a difference. Ken doesn't allow any trainer to work for more than 15-18 hours a week, or 3 hours at a stretch. The process is intense, hence the precaution.
The first franchisee opened in 2004. Today, LearningRx has 32 centers around the country, with about 50 average active students bringing in anywhere between $250k-$500k / year. The number will surely go up, as the franchises mature! All franchisees have been recruited by Word-of-Mouth. Customer recruitment has been through a mix of newspaper and radio ads, although now moving largely toward direct marketing.
Our VCs invest money in so many incremental businesses ... Ken Gibson's bootstrapped jewel is one that makes a difference in many lives, and in my opinion, is worth scaling!