Challenge Island

30 06, 2019

July 2019: Franchisee of the Month

2019-07-02T12:23:12-04:00June 30th, 2019|Tags: , , , , , , |

Franchisee of The Month

by Jill Abrahamsen

Toni Wren, Challenge Island
Central Long Island, New York

As a child, Toni Wren didn’t know what she wanted to do when she grew up. “I never had a real passion for anything. I just wasn’t one of those kids,” she says. She stumbled onto her first career, in finance, by accident and later discovered her ultimate passion, working with children.

Wren chose political science as a college major even though she wasn’t sure where it might lead. But her side job as a bank teller was what shaped her path. “By the time I graduated, I was a branch manager,” she says. This experience eventually led to a lucrative career in finance at top corporations, including a project manager role at Goldman Sachs.

The recession of 2008 came at a great time for Wren. Her company downsized and offered severance packages, and she jumped at one. “It was a no-brainer. Commuting every day was taking a toll. I needed a more flexible schedule to raise my family,” she says.

KID STUFF
After looking at different kinds of businesses, Wren decided that she wanted to work with children. “At one of my son’s baseball games, a parent asked me if I was available to run her kid’s party. It seemed like an odd request at first, but then she explained. She always saw me playing with kids at events. I was good at it. That’s when I realized my passion,” she says.

Raising her children on Long Island, New York, Wren knew that any type of kids-based business would do well in her area. “The parents here like to keep their children engaged in enriching activities.”

LOOK NO FURTHER
Wren investigated many children’s franchise brands, but when she came across Challenge Island®, she knew it was the right fit. “It was exactly what I wanted to do. I could own and grow a business, be hands-on, creative, and make a difference.” Wren was attracted to the flexible, home-based model and the fact that she could put her personal touch on the business. “You don’t get that with most franchises,” she says.

After her initial call with founder Sharon Estroff, Wren didn’t look further. “I could hear the passion in Estroff’s voice. She had me at hello,” Wren jokes. She opened for business in 2017.

The after-school enrichment program, which teaches science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM), is designed to help kids develop skills such as collaboration, compromise, resilience, and critical thinking. The hundreds of themed lessons target specific age groups. “Kids have so much fun with us, they don’t even realize they are learning,” Wren says.

Wren has customized the business to suit her lifestyle. “At first, I wanted to do everything myself: teach the classes, shop for supplies, and so on. But as we grew, I added staff.” She also added offerings for more revenue streams including camps, field trips, and adult classes. Because of the low overhead, it’s easy for Wren to use the business to raise money for charities. “The possibilities are endless with Challenge Island. I can make a living, do what I love, and make a difference, all on my own terms.”

For more information, visit www.challenge-island.com.

Share this story

Franchisee of The Month

by Jill Abrahamsen

Toni Wren, Challenge Island
Central Long Island, New York

As a child, Toni Wren didn’t know what she wanted to do when she grew up. “I never had a real passion for anything. I just wasn’t one of those kids,” she says. She stumbled onto her first career, in finance, by accident and later discovered her ultimate passion, working with children.

Wren chose political science as a college major even though she wasn’t sure where it might lead. But her side job as a bank teller was what shaped her path. “By the time I graduated, I was a branch manager,” she says. This experience eventually led to a lucrative career in finance at top corporations, including a project manager role at Goldman Sachs.

The recession of 2008 came at a great time for Wren. Her company downsized and offered severance packages, and she jumped at one. “It was a no-brainer. Commuting every day was taking a toll. I needed a more flexible schedule to raise my family,” she says.

KID STUFF
After looking at different kinds of businesses, Wren decided that she wanted to work with children. “At one of my son’s baseball games, a parent asked me if I was available to run her kid’s party. It seemed like an odd request at first, but then she explained. She always saw me playing with kids at events. I was good at it. That’s when I realized my passion,” she says.

Raising her children on Long Island, New York, Wren knew that any type of kids-based business would do well in her area. “The parents here like to keep their children engaged in enriching activities.”

LOOK NO FURTHER
Wren investigated many children’s franchise brands, but when she came across Challenge Island®, she knew it was the right fit. “It was exactly what I wanted to do. I could own and grow a business, be hands-on, creative, and make a difference.” Wren was attracted to the flexible, home-based model and the fact that she could put her personal touch on the business. “You don’t get that with most franchises,” she says.

After her initial call with founder Sharon Estroff, Wren didn’t look further. “I could hear the passion in Estroff’s voice. She had me at hello,” Wren jokes. She opened for business in 2017.

The after-school enrichment program, which teaches science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM), is designed to help kids develop skills such as collaboration, compromise, resilience, and critical thinking. The hundreds of themed lessons target specific age groups. “Kids have so much fun with us, they don’t even realize they are learning,” Wren says.

Wren has customized the business to suit her lifestyle. “At first, I wanted to do everything myself: teach the classes, shop for supplies, and so on. But as we grew, I added staff.” She also added offerings for more revenue streams including camps, field trips, and adult classes. Because of the low overhead, it’s easy for Wren to use the business to raise money for charities. “The possibilities are endless with Challenge Island. I can make a living, do what I love, and make a difference, all on my own terms.”

For more information, visit www.challenge-island.com.

Share this story

31 03, 2019

April 2019: Featured Entrepreneur

2019-04-01T13:50:03-04:00March 31st, 2019|Tags: , , , , , , , |

An innovator who runs her business with passion

by Jill Abrahamsen

Sharon Estroff lives her brand. As the mastermind of Challenge Island®, she describes her unique franchise with the same playful enthusiasm that sparked her to start the innovative business in 2002. Estroff never intended to launch a leading franchise system with more than 90 locations worldwide. The growth and success of Challenge Island is a byproduct of her desire to make a difference—and she has.

A former teacher, Estroff created Challenge Island as an after-school program to get kids excited about learning. Inspired by her favorite reality TV show, she designed a curriculum that was fun and engaging, but at the same time helps kids develop important life skills such as collaboration, compromise, resilience, and critical thinking. “We turn the classroom into an island, divide students into tribes, and create challenges. Kids don’t realize they are learning. They are having too much fun,” she says.

Estroff and her team create and constantly add to the curriculum, which incorporates science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). “We have a blast coming up with new challenges,” Estroff says. Cross-curricular Island themes include Cool Carreers which is made up of whimsical engineering destinations like City Planner Speedway, Marine Biologist Bay, and Pet Emergency Room. The summer camp curriculum includes kid-approved themes such as Slime Squad Camp and Island Tube Camp.

Franchisees can customize their offerings by using the hundreds of themed lessons to run after-school enrichment classes, camps, birthday parties, scouting events, and even senior programs. “Our franchisees have a lot of creative freedom, which is something you don’t get in most franchise systems,” Estroff says.

While the brand attracts former teachers and corporate moms, you don’t necessarily need to be a parent or have a teaching degree to run this business. “Our owners come from a variety of backgrounds: former investment bankers, lawyers, marketing executives and everything in between. They all share a passion for working with children and a desire to make a difference as well as an income,” says Estroff. For more information, contact (985) 209-8430 or franchising@challenge-island.com.

Share this story

An innovator who runs her business with passion

by Jill Abrahamsen

Sharon Estroff lives her brand. As the mastermind of Challenge Island®, she describes her unique franchise with the same playful enthusiasm that sparked her to start the innovative business in 2002. Estroff never intended to launch a leading franchise system with more than 90 locations worldwide. The growth and success of Challenge Island is a byproduct of her desire to make a difference—and she has.

A former teacher, Estroff created Challenge Island as an after-school program to get kids excited about learning. Inspired by her favorite reality TV show, she designed a curriculum that was fun and engaging, but at the same time helps kids develop important life skills such as collaboration, compromise, resilience, and critical thinking. “We turn the classroom into an island, divide students into tribes, and create challenges. Kids don’t realize they are learning. They are having too much fun,” she says.

Estroff and her team create and constantly add to the curriculum, which incorporates science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). “We have a blast coming up with new challenges,” Estroff says. Cross-curricular Island themes include Cool Carreers which is made up of whimsical engineering destinations like City Planner Speedway, Marine Biologist Bay, and Pet Emergency Room. The summer camp curriculum includes kid-approved themes such as Slime Squad Camp and Island Tube Camp.

Franchisees can customize their offerings by using the hundreds of themed lessons to run after-school enrichment classes, camps, birthday parties, scouting events, and even senior programs. “Our franchisees have a lot of creative freedom, which is something you don’t get in most franchise systems,” Estroff says.

While the brand attracts former teachers and corporate moms, you don’t necessarily need to be a parent or have a teaching degree to run this business. “Our owners come from a variety of backgrounds: former investment bankers, lawyers, marketing executives and everything in between. They all share a passion for working with children and a desire to make a difference as well as an income,” says Estroff. For more information, contact (985) 209-8430 or franchising@challenge-island.com.

Share this story

28 03, 2019

Challenge Island® Ranked one of the Fastest-Growing Franchises by Entrepreneur Magazine

2019-03-28T16:22:06-04:00March 28th, 2019|Tags: , , , , , |

ATLANTA — Challenge Island®, the #1 STEM / STEAM franchise in Entrepreneur 2019 Franchise 500®, was recently ranked in Entrepreneur‘s Fastest-Growing Franchises list. This highly competitive list recognizes the 150 companies with the greatest franchise unit growth in North America.

“We are incredibly honored to be ranked #98 on Entrepreneur’s 2019 Fastest Growing Franchises list, as well as #307 on Entrepreneur’s 2019 Franchise 500®. These accomplishments are testament to the strength of the brand, our fantastic franchisees, our unwavering support team, the epically exciting Challenge Island® franchise opportunity, and our company’s contagious mission to positively impact the lives of children across the country and the globe.”

Learn More About Challenge Island at www.challenge-island.com and https://franchise.challenge-island.com/ 

Founded and led by Sharon Duke Estroff, an award-winning educator, Penguin Random House parenting author, internationally syndicated parenting columnist, and education contributor for numerous national magazines including Scholastic Parent and Child, Good Housekeeping and Parents, Challenge Island® has over 90 franchises across the US and internationally. “Thanks to our spectacular growth and momentum,” says Estroff who is also the company’s CEO, “Challenge Island® is on course to have touched the lives over 1 million children by 2020.”

“Franchising trends are always changing, and our ranking of the fastest-growing franchises offers crisp insight into what’s hot right now,” says Jason Feifer, Entrepreneur’s editor in chief. “And through this list, we’re also able to see the strategies that help newer brands ramp up quickly and that enable older ones to maintain their momentum.”

Entrepreneur’s 2019 Fastest-Growing Franchises ranking is based on each company’s net franchise-unit growth in the U.S. and Canada from July 31, 2017 to July 31, 2018. Challenge Island’s position on the ranking demonstrates the brand’s rising popularity with both franchisees and customers.

To view Challenge Island in the full ranking, visit entrepreneur.com/franchises/fastestgrowing. Results can also be seen in the March issue of Entrepreneur, available now on newsstands.

About Challenge Island®

Challenge Island® is a home-based/mobile children’s educational enrichment franchise.  Franchisees run STEM / STEAM afterschool enrichment classes, in-school field trips, camps, Girl Scout and Boy Scout badge workshops, as well as Challenge Island Junior™ and Challenge Island Senior™ programming in preschools and senior living communities.