Doing Well by Doing Good – Brooklyn Robot Foundry Gives Back, Focuses on Diversity

Spotlight on People

Since getting into business, Jenny Young’s goal has been to break down the barriers of STEM learning and business ownership. That's why her business, The Brooklyn Robot Foundry opened up applications for the ``Frandowment Competition,” offering an entirely fee-free franchise to one lucky winner.                                                          

“How can I solidify a culture of understanding and inclusivity with franchising and a new business owner?” This was the question that Jenny Young, founder, and CEO of the Brooklyn Robot Foundry, asked herself when considering franchising her business. Jenny has been running Brooklyn Robot for over ten years. Started in 2011, Brooklyn Robot Foundry offers students immersive STEM learning by building robots through afterschool classes, summer camps and even at birthday parties all over the Tri-State Area. Prior to the pandemic, Jenny had four locations in different boroughs across New York City.

While navigating the uncertain landscape of growing a business in the midst of a pandemic, Jenny also became increasingly aware of the need to create and support a more diverse, equitable and inclusive society where all people could pursue opportunity and all children could see a potential future in a STEM field. 

Again, she asked herself and her team, “How can I solidify a culture of understanding and inclusivity with franchising and a new business owner?”

From this very question, the Frandowment competition was born. The Frandowment competition is an incredible opportunity that offers a would-be entrepreneur the opportunity to own a local franchise business by becoming the first franchisee of the Brooklyn Robot Foundry. The competition provides the chance to own and operate a franchise without the financial barriers that may exclude people from traditionally underrepresented communities. By waiving all the initial fees and eliminating the barrier to entry, Jenny is living out her business’ core values by creating opportunity. As Stan Friedman, one of the Frandowment competition judges noted, “This [competition] is an example of someone doing well by doing good.”

Jenny and the Brooklyn Robot Foundry are seeking a community builder, a people person, and someone who has a passion for diversifying the STEM field. Because of the nature of the Brooklyn Robot Foundry business, the winner of the Frandowment competition will not only get the chance to own their own business and control their destiny but it also provides the platform to enrich their community. The ability to have access to a space that is centered around fun, creative, hands-on skill work that translates to high-performing thinkers can be life changing for kids in underserved communities. The winner will be empowered to build a business that connects with their community, reaching diverse, future STEM professionals to help unlock their potential. Early childhood access and exposure to STEM learning has critical implications for the development of a child and her future success. While one lucky person will win an incredible business opportunity, the real winner of the Frandowment competition will be an entire neighborhood or community.

IFA President and CEO Matt Haller said, “Throughout my time at IFA, I’ve met so many incredible emerging franchisors like Jenny who work to scale their businesses and invest in communities with an intentional focus on diversity. The Frandowment competition is a prime example of how franchises invest in the success of their neighbors and community. The Frandowment competition is a win-win-win opportunity for the Brooklyn Robot Foundry, a future franchise owner, and the community they will serve.”

To understand how Jenny arrived at creating the Frandowment Competition, it is important to understand Jenny’s path and what led her to starting her own business.

After a few years in the corporate world of New York City, Jenny Young longed for the ability to work with her hands. As a kid growing up in rural Ohio from a long line of creators, makers, and builders, Jenny had grown up using her hands to tinker and build things, even building a car from scratch with her dad.

With a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University, she got a job as a software programmer, but her desire to get back into a garage led her to join a community machine learning Lab in New York City where she again began to. This time she was not just building gadgets and gizmos. She was building a community, a vision, and a mission. The machine learning lab is where Jenny invented the idea for the Brooklyn Robot Foundry franchise system.

Realizing how important using her creative side was to her development, she decided to start teaching robot-building classes for kids in New York City. Thus, the Brooklyn Robot Foundry business was born. Brooklyn Robot offers STEM classes for kids of all ages, giving them a chance to explore and use their imagination to problem solve and create.

With the success of her first few locations, Jenny started considering taking her business to the next level by pursuing franchising. When COVID-19 took the world by storm, that idea fell to the wayside as Jenny and her team needed to figure out how to pivot the business. The overhead cost of physical locations became too expensive and with the flexibility of online learning, Jenny decided to make her’s a mobile business. Instead of teaching classes in one location, Jenny and her team would travel to locations all over New York or Zoom in remotely. The mobile version of Brooklyn Robots took off and turned out to have a quicker path to profitability than the brick-and-mortar model. Jenny realized that this innovation positioned her business perfectly to launch the first franchise.

The first franchisee of the Brooklyn Robot Foundry will be awarded to someone who’s excited and prepared to run their own business, a leader in their community, and has a passion for diversifying the STEM field. The perfect candidate for this competition is not someone who has the means to purchase a franchise but rather, has the motivation and passion to build a business and grow community. The application process has three parts, a video entry, resume, and online form. The application opened July 13th and the deadline to apply is August 5th.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for the Frandowment competition, fill out the application here.