The College Planning Franchise Becomes the Fifth Youth-Oriented Brand in the Unleashed Umbrella
Unleashed Brands has added another youth-based company to its portfolio, but this time with a focus on teens: Class 101. The college planning franchise’s mission is to help high school students achieve their full potential by preparing them for every step along the path to higher education. Class 101 mentors students one-on-one starting as early as their freshman year of high school and helps students zero in on their best university choice, get accepted and earn scholarships.
Based in Lexington, Ky., Class 101 will join four other franchises owned by Unleashed Brands, a corporation created last summer by CEO Michael Browning Jr. He acquires and grows businesses that share a “learn, play, grow” philosophy in their missions. Last year Unleashed Brands acquired Snapology, The Little Gym and Premier Martial Arts. Browning founded Bedford, Texas-based Urban Air Adventure Park in 2011; that franchise also is covered by the Unleashed Brands umbrella. (Urban Air Adventure Park serves more than 20 million children annually with $500 million-plus in yearly revenue, according to a Dallas Morning News report.)
Unleashed Brands Enters Teen Arena
Browning told The Morning News that Class 101 will provide high school students with the tools they need in preparation for college, the last stop for participants in Unleashed Brands’ various program offerings. “The goal is to get students into a great college at a price that families can afford. It’s unbelievable the impact they make on kids’ lives. It also takes so much pressure off of the family.”
In a news release, Browning said “the acquisition of Class 101 is the first strategic acquisition Unleashed Brands is making into the teen market, further expanding our reach into the education segment. The addition of Class 101 aligns perfectly with Unleashed Brands’ goal to provide top-notch opportunities to help kids learn, play and grow from birth until they exit the home and go to college or the working world.”
Class 101 Goals and History
Thomas Pabin, who founded Class 101 in 1997 and was owner of the franchise, said in a news release that Unleashed Brands is an ideal parent company for facilitating expansion of Class 101. “Unleashed Brands’ mission and goals for growth align perfectly with what we’re looking to achieve for Class 101, and based on its past success in growing complementary portfolio brands, I’m confident we’ll be able to do the same, reaching even more students and allowing them to achieve their goals for a brighter future. Class 101 looks forward to leveraging Unleashed Brands’ strategic resources and technology infrastructure in an effort to reach a broader audience while continuing to provide the expert services and support our students expect to help them find their greatness.”
Pabin said Class 101 has helped 7,452 students who have attended 700 colleges and universities. Those students have received $638 million-plus in merit-based scholarships, with scholarships exceeding a total of $1 billion later this year, he said. “We kind of step in to be that person that the parent can’t be because they are a parent,” said Pabin, explaining that Class 101 can effectively challenge and motivate students to reach for and achieve higher goals on their college-entrance requirements.
How Unleashed Brands Was Born
The idea for Unleashed Brands occurred to Browning during the pandemic, when he and his wife – like many American parents – were dealing with school closures, quarantines and remote learning for their three young children. They didn’t have many trusted alternatives for broadening their kids’ learning.
“A light bulb went off for me that it is way too hard on parents to find places for their kids to learn, play and grow,” Browning told The Morning News. “There was an opportunity to bring the world’s best brands under one roof and make it easier on parents.” He added that Class 101 represents “the springboard into adulthood, into that next chapter. We’re graduating them out of the Unleashed ecosystem and into college.”
Umbrella Franchisors Making Headlines
Unleashed Brands is one of several umbrella franchises that has made headlines with significant acquisitions during recent months. FAT Brands, Five Star Franchising, Neighborly, Outdoor Living Brands, Propelled Brands, and Restaurant Brands International, for example, also have announced the additions of new brands to their franchise portfolios.
Browning’s personal profile in the franchise industry rose this year when he was elected to the International Franchise Association’s Board of Directors. He began serving a three-year term on the board on Feb. 1.