From Wall Street analyst to Mad Science franchisee
Mad Science teaches kids STEAM—science, technology, engineering, art and math—with a focus on after-school programs.
Deepa Pulianda’s career journey was far from straightforward. She studied genetics as an undergrad and began a career in biomedical sciences. After finding herself as an analyst on Wall Street and realizing it wasn’t for her, Pulianda quickly pivoted to becoming a high school science teacher. Coming from a family of educators, the move made sense to her.
“Hence the love affair started with education,” Pulianda said. “As a teacher, I started to understand people—the human mind and how they work and what is viable, and what is not.”
In 2000, Pulianda moved from where she grew up in Connecticut to Texas to start a family. At that point, she had a choice to make.
“I decided maybe it was time to start something on my own, to have more flexibility and control over my time,” Pulianda said. “For me being a scientist, bringing in the love of science was very important … then a friend told me about the Mad Science franchise.”
Mad Science is a Montreal-based after-school science program that caters to kids between 3 and 12 years old that has been franchising for more than 20 years. It also hosts camps, birthday parties, workshops and other events using hands-on, interactive experiments to learn STEAM—science, technology, engineering, art and math.
“That hands-on experience is a game changer,” Pulianda said. “Children learn when they are having fun, not when they are under fear.”
Pulianda jumped into the Mad Science world, learning the ins and outs of opening a business, marketing, competition and more.
“One thing we had to understand completely was, what exactly does our customer want and do we have a product that will meet that need?” Pulianda said. “That took me a little time to understand…the beauty of Mad Science is the flexibility. Every place you start a franchise is a little different, so you can’t have a cookie-cutter approach to business.”
Mad Science has more than 150 locations in 20-plus countries that reach upwards of 5 million kids per year. Now among the brand’s top-performing franchisees in the U.S., Pulianda has owned her Dallas location since 2006 and her Fort Worth location since 2009.
“Being a teacher first, I learned empathy. That was very important and crucial for me to know,” Pulianda said. “I also knew one thing for sure—I will not compromise on my ethics and quality. I knew if I could stick with that, we would be successful, and sure enough, we were.”
From majoring in genetics to being an analyst on Wall Street to owning her own business, Pulianda has always existed in traditionally male-dominated industries and spaces, but she never let that deter her from speaking her mind.
“Being a woman of Asian and Indian descent, I knew I was going to make my point of view heard,” Pulianda said. “I have been extremely lovingly welcomed everywhere I went. Maybe it’s my attitude, that I do not recognize stupidity…but I did not let it hinder me in any way.”
Pulianda’s husband is also her Mad Science business partner. While he focuses on operations and dotting the i’s, she focuses on relationships with employees, customers and students. They mainly serve independent school district institutions, along with library communities. Their Dallas location serves more than 150 elementary school students.
“We call ourselves the education program provider focusing on STEAM,” Pulianda said. “That is where I see ourselves exploding in the new generation … we customize our programs to meet the needs of the fast-growing landscape.”
Already one of the largest Mad Science franchisees, Pulianda’s units are also located in one of the fastest growing areas of the country. U.S. Census Bureau data shows the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area gained more residents than any other metro area in the country in 2018, a large section of new residents being growing families. Pulianda expects the area to continue to attract more young parents who recognize that STEAM education is the future.
“When I was a teacher, I wish I had had more time to do enrichment. All we do is bookwork; children are bored, we’re burnt out,” Pulianda said. “Then here comes Mad Science, that puts a smile on children’s faces … when I go to customers now, I tell them, you can’t hoodwink me and say you don’t need anything. I know what you need.”