Mike Robinson

Former Pro Basketball Player Finds Success in Educational Franchise Industry With Snapology

Content originally posted on Black Enterprise:

Child Enrichment programs are one of the fastest-growing franchise opportunities around. From tutoring, swimming, painting, and sports to math, robotics, and coding, parents are always looking to improve the lives of their children while entertaining them at the same time. Regarding education, S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) programs have become very popular in the past several years since the framework was introduced in 2006.

The Snapology franchise, founded in 2010, provides educational play to children using LEGO bricks, K’Nex, technology, and other interactive mediums, offering classes, camps, scouting events, birthday parties, playdates, and customized events. Ranked No. 1 in the Children’s Enrichment category and part of the Unleashed Brands family, Snapology believes that children are meant to learn through play.

Mike Robinson was born and raised in Chicago and went to school in Michigan. After school, he had the opportunity to play professional basketball in both Europe and South America for a few seasons. Following his sports career, Robinson became a financial planner with Edward Jones.

“I was a hotshot broker, but all along, I just didn’t feel like it was much of an inspiring career choice. Throughout this time, I had been working with kids at several basketball camps and programs, which was still my passion. When COVID hit in early 2020, and everything was suddenly shut down, I had no idea what to do next. It took months of prayer and reflection on my situation to realize that whatever it was I was going to do, I wanted to continue having the opportunity to work with kids,” Robinson tells BLACK ENTERPRISE.

Like many others, Robinson used the downtime the pandemic provided to explore other business opportunities.

“Franchising really appealed to me because I didn’t want to start all over again with something from scratch. There were so many choices! I narrowed down my search to franchise opportunities where I’d have the opportunity to continue working with kids. Soon, I stumbled upon Snapology,” he said. “What really got me was the affordability of the opportunity – under $50K. It checked all the boxes I was looking for at the time.”

In May of 2021, Robinson opened his first Snapology in Evergreen Park on the South Side of Chicago. In just two short years, he’s now running 25 to 30 programs every week, reaching anywhere from 400 to 5,500 children.

When asked by BE his biggest surprise regarding the business, Robinson shared his amazement at the high demand for their services from schools. Perhaps surprising to Robinson, however, statistics show that children have fallen behind in learning due to COVID-19 school closures. As cited in an ABC News report in early 2023, children lost out on about one-third of what they usually would have learned during the academic year from 2020 to mid-2022. This educational setback has prompted schools and school districts to actively seek external resources to supplement their existing curricula and help students catch up and excel. Snapology is among the programs making a substantial impact in this regard.

While building his Snapology franchise, Robinson faced and overcame challenges. “Just getting into the schools was tough. Our efforts through social media were slow, so we decided to go straight to the schools and introduce our programs.” His best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs considering starting a business or investing in a franchise is to research, have faith, work hard, and believe you offer the best service around.

Robinson is very happy with his choice of the Snapology brand. “The income is very nice. But what’s most important to me is how rewarding it is to be a Snapology owner and bring all of this wonder to kids. I get such satisfaction and joy from helping kids and watching them learn and grow. Many of the children we work with come from very underprivileged communities, which is an added benefit in the rewards category.”

He continued, “These programs are literally enriching their lives, giving them opportunities they may not otherwise have had. And that’s something I know a little bit about because that was my own story, too. I was raised very similarly. You know, when I was a broker, the reward was simply financial in nature, not emotional. But with Snapology, it’s both financially and emotionally rewarding. A real win-win. It’s meaningful, and that’s something you can’t assign a dollar value.”

With Robinson’s success so far, he’s already making plans to grow.

“The amount of training and support we get from Unleashed Brands is unmatched. And, it inspired us to expand our business ownership by adding another Unleashed Brands concept to our portfolio – Class 101, which opened earlier this year in June,” he said.

He added, “Class 101 is a national college planning franchise that helps high school students get into colleges that are perfect for them and qualify for higher amounts of scholarships and financial aid while doing so. Now, our help, coaching, and mentoring of kids will go well past their early years into college preparation.”