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Petits Confettis, A French Immersion Pre-School, Mountain View

Helene Gsell, owner of Petits Confettis (which means “Small Confettis” because children are like little confettis in a carnival that represent life being spread everywhere with a lot of fun! ), a new French immersion pre-school based in Mountain View, has a dream of opening an early child development center with the hope of exposing children to the French language and its rich culture. Based on her own experience as a mom with 2 young children, she understands the importance of providing quality French education through a kid-friendly, play-based program model, where children learn best through creativity and curiosity, while building confidence in embracing a new language in a bilingual/multi-lingual environment.

She went through 9 months breathing and living the environment of a start up from conceptualizing her business idea, to investigating license requirements for child care services, to getting herself trained in child care services and launching her first French immersion summer camp within a short period of time.  Petits Confettis was launched on May 27, 2011, initially offering a 4-week French immersion summer camp for all eager youngsters between ages 3-5, with the goal of graduating to a year-round program after Summer 2011.

Helene Gsell came to the Silicon Valley Small Business Development Center looking for business planning and strategy assistance to take her business idea forward. She met with Lead Business Advisor, Jenny Huang, to consult on her idea and next steps. At the time, Helene had had a successful run volunteering as a director at a local French immersion school.  During her tenure as director, she doubled their customer base within a year.  The experience further strengthened her desire to start her own French immersion pre-school and motivated her to work on the business plan to formalize her idea.

Jenny Huang, SV-SBDC Advisor, assisted Helene in defining her business vision, category ownership and differentiation. Helene did extensive research on her competition and honed in on her differentiated service components (programs, pricing, location, hours of operations, etc.) through pairs of vigilant eyes. She also researched child-care law requirements and the outcome helped her with the decision to start initially with a home-based French immersion and child care development center during the summer 2011 before she expands into a full-fledge facility offering a year-round program. Jenny also assisted Helene on her business launch plan and provided guidance on her pre-launch, launch and post-launch process. She recommended Helene to seek out a CPA to sort out her business formation structure and its tax implications before she launches her business.

Helene on her own attended the Home Daycare Orientation Program, completed 15 hours of health and safety & CPR/First aid child care class and has attended the “Access to Capital” class to understand funding opportunities and requirements.

To date, Helene has received her child care center license and has successfully launched her first French immersion camp. Her 4-week camp is at 90-95% capacity and she has reached her Summer sales goal, primarily through word of mouth with minimal advertising investment upfront.  She has also hired one full-time French teacher and one substitute on a contract basis to assist her in running the 4-week summer camp.

She has launched a fun website ( detailing the essential information about her French immersion pre-school and summer camps within a short period of time.  Future opportunities post-summer camp includes possibility of offering a year-round program and moving her home-based program to a bigger loaned facility, and eventually to her own facility when it makes sense for her business personally and financially.

“Starting a small business can be a lot of fun and also a big challenge. I found the counseling and support from my Business Advisor, Jenny Huang, immensely beneficial. She was professional and gave me much more than a “helicopter view” on my business. Now I feel confident, ready and set to succeed in my business. Working with the SV-SBDC is like working with a trusted team, whom will always have my business’ best interest at heart. Merci!” Helene Gsell, Owner of Petits Confettis

Petits Confettis, A New French Immersion Pre-School
Mountain View, California
Helene Gsell, owner