Roberto Ortega and his wife founded KLA Schools was founded in 2008. Previously, Roberto worked in the real estate/construction industry for two years while his wife was a preschool teacher at a small preschool in Miami. There, she saw the lack of high-quality early education programs in the Miami area. Together, they wanted to create an impact on society by providing a quality early childhood education program. As part of their research for an innovative approach to early childhood education, the two traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy to learn more about the Reggio Emilia Approach. They returned truly inspired and passionate about spreading its wonders in South Florida and across the nation. We had an opportunity to interview Roberto and asked about his story, how he started KLA Schools and the future of his business.
How did you come up with your business name?
KLA stands for Kids Learning Adventure. At KLA everyday children embark on a learning adventure.
Tell us about your products and services. How do you help clients?
KLA Schools is a premium preschool franchise that offers high-quality education to infants from 3 months to children 6 years of age; some locations offer school age programs to children up to 12 years of age.
Along with the support of parents, teachers, and the community, children will build their learning and development with determination and enthusiasm while learning how to discover knowledge and improve their communication skills as they plan and make decisions in small groups. They will become prepared to successfully excel in their lives as well as in their elementary, middle, high school, and university education, on which their future success will so greatly depend.
What makes you unique? What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
As a school:
- We are not only a place where we provide outstanding care for children, we educate children.
- We are Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education, which has been heralded as the best in the world by Newsweek and CNN
- Rich learning environment
- Endless opportunities for parents’ involvement
- Innovative look and feel
- Professional development. We provide teachers 7.5 hours a week of professional development. That is estimated 390 hours a year!
- Low teacher-to-student ratio. Our ratios are lower than most of the state standards.
As a franchise:
- Thorough support program that entails the following: site selection support, HR hiring and training support, pedagogical support and training, marketing support and financial support
- Small franchise company with open communication with the franchise corporate team
- Competitive edge from other schools (approach to education and look and feel)
Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?
Continuing to expand nationwide. Having a strong brand presence within the U.S., especially in the North East in flagship markets such as: Massachusetts, D.C., New York and the Carolinas.
Any advice you would give to entrepreneurs and business owners?
Don’t fear taking risks, especially if you have a passion for it. KLA was founded during the recession of 2008 and through hard work and passion for what we do we were able to be successful in such unstable financial times.
What is your favorite business quote and why?
In my opinion, it is easier to take a company from Zero to 1 than it is to take it from 1 to 2.
What have been some of your achievements that you are most proud of? Why?
- Building a respectable preschool franchise brand and positively impacting all of the communities that we serve
- Strong brand presence in South Florida
- KLA Schools is a recession-proof company, we could not have picked a worst time to start this adventure.