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  • Writer's pictureGreat Companies

Capt Unni Krishnan, Founder at Primus Public School and Abacus Education Services

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Capt Unni Krishnan: In the year 1995 after completion of my tenure of Short Service of 5 years with the Army, I started my second innings with a marketing and advertising agency. During the course of work, I was involved in conducting a survey report for a school project and found it very interesting. That was the time the country was witnessing the reverse brain drain of Indians wanting to return. Bangalore being a preferred destination, along with a few friends and investors , we decided to set up an International school offering the international syllabus form IBO. On a campus spread over 40 acres, we set up Indus International school in the year 2003. I was one of the Managing Trustees who was involved in the designing, planning, execution and daily operations of the project. For the first three years of the school, I personally managed the day to day operations of the school.

As most international schools, Indus was also quite expensive and catered to the affluent class. I had found that the international education was a good option and felt it should be available to the other segments of the society also. That was the genesis of the Project Primus Public School. In the year 2006, I resigned from Indus and started the plans for setting up Primus.

Great Companies: What are the various Services provided by Primus Public School and Abacus Education Services

Capt Unni Krishnan: With the clear vision of providing affordable international education, the first step was to name the school ‘ Primus' which means first and call it a public school unlike the rest of the new schools coming up with the name international. Primus Public School was designed and planned as a school that would offer International syllabus ( IGCSE from Cambridge University), international teaching practices but with affordable fees. Primus commenced operations in June 2007. The fees at Primus was at one tenth the cost of the International school and it offered the same standard of education if not better. The campus was much smaller but all necessary essential facilities were provided that facilitated good quality education, what we left out were the frills. The focus was on good quality education which was achieved with the help of a well selected faculty who were imparted necessary training and motivation. The school had all necessary teaching aids and technology initiatives that would help the teachers and students. The measure of success of Primus was purely its word of mouth publicity . Our parents and students were our best ambassadors and teachers loved the work culture resulting in additional staff also being easily available. The success of Primus is dedicated to the staff, students and parents. Primus has created a niche for itself and is among the top schools in Bangalore.

Having successfully conceived and managed Primus as its founder Managing Trustee for 12 years, I decided to step back from day to day operations and resigned from Primus Trust. As of now, I am operating Abacus Education services which I started in the year 2009. Abacus is a one stop consulting company that offers consultancy services for setting up and managing schools. In addition to offering consulting setting up services for a few school projects, in the year 2016, Abacus commenced Aspire International School at Nagpur on behalf of Sarla Education Trust and is managing its day to day functioning.

Great Companies: What makes Primus Public School and Abacus Education Services different from hundreds of other education institutes?

Capt Unni Krishnan: Through the last 20 odd years, I have focused on education from a student perspective where the aim is not on infrastructure and facilities but on the quality of delivery of education and this is achieved by setting well defined operating procedures that are constantly updated and most importantly a transparent policy of rules for teachers, students and parents.

A well designed and structured system takes away any ambiguity that may exist and helps in smooth operations. Roles of all personnel are clearly defined and provides clarity to all. With regard Abacus, the biggest advantage is that it offers turnkey services in setting up a school from scratch and also helps in hand holding and smooth transition of ownership in case of take-over of schools.

Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?

Capt Unni Krishnan: Education is considered a holy cow and the Govt regulations on not allowing non charitable institutions to set up schools is a major limitation. While the aim of the Government policy is to ensure there is no profiteering, unfortunately the aim is not achieved. I feel it is taking away transparency in operations and also limiting corporates and well-meaning individuals from getting into this field. With clear and unambiguous guidelines and transparent books of accounting, operations of schools would not only be easier but also will bring more interested parties to this field. Rather than the Government trying to control fees, healthy competition will bring down the fee and ensure better quality of schools. Parents are quite aware of their expectations and when there are adequate number of schools, they will make the choice of school according to what they want and if they do not get what is promised, they will shift to a different school. The Government must ensure total transparency on the fees that schools charge and insist only bank transactions for payment of fees. No additional fees must be charged by schools and increment of percentage of fees year on year must be indicated at the time of admission. With better regulations, we will have better school operators and in turn much higher quality of schools. As we all know, as a country, we have the a young population and there is a larger number of schools required.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Primus Public School and Abacus Education Services?

Capt Unni Krishnan: While Primus will continue to grow with more students and produce better results, Abacus would like to expand into more geographical areas and offer more services. With the pandemic opening up newer avenues, Abacus would like to look at widening its capabilities and prepare for blended learning. Teacher training and vocational training are areas that would be in the focus.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Capt Unni Krishnan: The field of education is exciting and more importantly intellectually challenging. The interactions are always with young minds and there is so much to learn from them. The opportunities are immense and if one is willing, even existing practices can be represented from a different perspective.

Webiste :

“Education in the 21st century has a new definition of excellence – it is not a skill but an attitude”

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