Flex Academies just won the 2016 Totally Awesome Award for Most Awesome Afterschool Program in DC. Joshua Chernikoff, founder of Flex Academies took the time to speak with us about their totally awesome business.
Red Tricycle: Your community recently voted you “Most Awesome Afterschool Program- DC” – what do your customers value most about your business?
Joshua Chernikoff: Flex Academies provides fun, innovative, and safe before and after school enrichment programs for kids that take place right at their school. Our clients are as diverse as the programs we offer — there are several different client bases we serve, and each values Flex in a different way: Kids love us because our classes are fun, and they can explore new interests, or hone their skills in their favorite activities. PTAs and school principals value our expertise in developing successful enrichment programs that are safe and well-managed. Flex Academies manages the registration, scheduling and day-to-day administration of the program, and even provides an On Site Coordinator for extra support. Teachers love how we help spread their love of learning to kids by making learning fun! Parents recognize that their kids love our innovative class offerings. Kids get to spend extra time with their friends, in a safe and familiar environment, and have fun — and parents don’t have to drive to yet another place for all of this!
RT: What do you want people to know about your business that they don’t already know?
JC: As far as we know, Flex Academies is one of a kind! We have not come across another company that does exactly what Flex Academies does for kids, PTA, schools, and our vendor partners. We are proud to be innovative and bringing awesome enrichment to our 50+ schools.
RT: How did your business get started and what was the motivation?
JC: I am also the Founder and President of Ashley Tutors, a tutoring service that has served over 5,000 families in the Washington, D.C. area since 2007. In 2009, I started providing after school tutoring to groups of students at the schools. I recognized some inefficiencies of the school-run after school programming, the volunteer burnout of PTA parents running the enrichment programs, and discovered a new business opportunity. The next year, Flex Academies was born. We like to say we’re the nation’s first turn-key solution for after school programs.
RT: Tell us, what do you start your morning with: 1. coffee 2. tea 3. mimosa 4. water 5. all of the above.
JC: Even before I open my eyes, I start the morning thinking about what I want to accomplish that day and how grateful I am to be alive. It helps me to get centered before thinking about anything else. Then, the next thing could be laughing with my wife, waking up our toddler — then heading for coffee!
RT: What is the most awesome thing a customer has ever done for you?
JC: Honestly, I was completely overwhelmed by the support we received to win this Totally Awesome Award. We had friends, family, parents of our kids, administrator, vendor partners, and even people we didn’t know vote for Flex Academies. AND, those people told us they voted for us because they truly believe in what we are doing. Our team works so incredibly hard and deserves this recognition! Thank you to everyone who voted!
RT: What is your biggest pet peeve as a business owner?
JC: Too much email is a total pet peeve — and a time suck! I really try to minimize the email these days so that I can try to accomplish goals. So I turn off email at certain parts of the day just to focus on my work with no distractions.
RT: How do you keep your stress levels down?
JC: Our amazing team at Flex Academies is key to a smooth operation and keeping stress levels down. I am lucky to work with some of the best in the best business in the world — helping kids learn! Also, working out is a great way for me to keep my stress down and focus up. Spend at least an hour a day during the week working out one way or another — whether it is Crossfit or running — I need my time to breathe, stretch or lift.
RT: What’s your secret superhero power as a business owner?
JC: I think my superhero power as business owner is to make people happy. I will do my best to make sure everybody on our team is happy with their role, fulfilling their goals, and excited to do their work everyday. I also think this is my kryptonite, though: it is nearly impossible to make everybody around me happy — in business or life. Living with the feeling that somebody might not be 100 percent happy with their role at Flex Academies is a tough feeling for me to experience.
RT: Tell us, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (as a parent or business owner)?
JC: Best advice as a business owner is “Trust your gut, nitwit.” It is actually a saying I have with one of my best friends who is also an entrepreneur. We both have to remind each other as business owners to “Trust your gut, nitwit” because there are a lot of times in business where you want to do something the easy way (it may save time or money) or want to hire somebody (but something doesn’t seem right) and you just need to follow your gut. It honestly has never failed and helped build the business and my own confidence, too, because I can trust myself.
RT: How about the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
JC: Every piece of advice is worth listening to and receiving, but again, you then have to “Trust your gut, nitwit.” So, even when I have received advice I didn’t agree with, it still helps to hear it, process it, and then make the most informed decision I can as a business owner.
RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?
JC: Yes, we would love to help your readers improve the enrichment program at their school! We are happy to speak with parents, educators, and PTA presidents about how to get kids safer and more quality enrichment programming choices. AND, we would be happy to provide your community with a free survey to learn more about what types of enrichment programs the parents in your want to see offered at their school. You can learn more about that here.
Check out their website here.
Photo credit: Joshua Chernikoff