I’ve been a serial entrepreneur since I was a kid. I think my earliest capitalistic thoughts occurred in the forth grade when I started using my coin stash to purchase boxes of candy from Sam’s club and began reselling them at school. I thought it was an amazing idea and I doubled my money every week or so… unfortunately my teachers didn’t like the idea very much.
I started my second “business” around 11 years old, I picked up the art of selling knick knacks and antiques that I purchased from flea markets and local yard sales. I would ask my grandmother pick me up early on Saturday mornings and I would map out all the yard sales and estate sales for that day in a list of priority and we would set off for finding “deals.” I commonly told my “nana” that she ought to “stay in the car” because I learned that I didn’t get as good of deals when the flea market sellers saw her with me.
I was hooked. I had been looking for a new business idea to replace my antique business that I had been doing for years. I just knew that this was it. I quite literally, stumbled across what would be the best (so far) business idea I’ve ever had.
Most of my classmates were aware that my iPhone had been damaged so when they saw me come to school with the same phone looking practically brand, they would ask, “who fixed your phone?” to which I would reply, “I did.” Before I even had a business plan, I had more new “customers” texting me daily saying things like “I have an iPhone 4s, how soon can you fix it??” I even had individuals texting me that I didn’t even know! The word was spreading fast, but I had one big problem. I was broke.
Even though I had made quite a bit of money flipping vintage comic books and grannies’ old sets of china, I wasn’t in the best financial situation at home. At the time, I was living in Capital Heights, a lower class neighborhood in the center of Montgomery, Alabama, and let’s just say my home life wasn’t the prettiest. Instead of new gadget’s and gizmos or startup funds for my business, most of money went to surviving. Food was more of a necessity at that time than it should have to be for any 14 year old. Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to let my situation prevent me from servicing my new “customers.” I was able to talk my first customer into giving me the money up front to purchase the screen for his iPhone 4s and then have him pay me for the rest of the repair after I completed it. I remember nervously putting his iPhone 4s back together after having to take the phone completely apart just to do the screen. I remember looking at all of the pieces of his phone laid out on the table of my career prep classroom and thinking to myself, “this is fucked.” (FYI the iPhone 4s is WAYY harder to repair than the iPhone 5c …) But after everything was put back together… IT WORKED! That rush of dopamine and boost in confidence solidified the idea that I had stumbled upon a GREAT business idea and ultimately led me to pursue even further.
Students, Teachers, Janitors, everybody around me seemed to have a broken phone and I was there guy! A quick repair at a fair price and I come to you. It was that simple and it worked marvelously. I was able to finally save up enough money to stock parts of my own so customers no longer had to wait for their screens to come in, I could service them same day and that really made a difference. I was giving business cards out, posting flyers are street lights around the city, and telling everyone I know what I could do for them. But something was lacking… why did retail stores just get more business than I did?
Naturally progressing towards a more legitimate business by the day, I decided to build my own website. If I wanted more than just my high school to know I fixed phones I was going to have to have some good branding and a website. Thus, “Central Alabama iPhone Repair” was born short for CAIR! So I did what all first time business owners do, jump over to GoDaddy and try to purchase the .com of said business just to be disappointed that it’s already taken. 🙁 So I settled for the next best thing CAIR.club. I was so excited to get Central Alabama iPhone Repair’s website up that I started working on it immediately! I a “website” put together in a few hours and live online, but I had one problem… After doing a google search for “CAIR” I realized that not only did I NOT come up in the search results, but that the competition for the keyword “CAIR” was actually unbeatable: CAIR = Council on American-Islamic Relations. Talk about a quick lesson to learn in SEO for my new business… LOL
In 2018, I opened my first retail store in a prime area of Montgomery. It took off fast, I was quickly doing way more repairs than I ever did on the go, it also allowed me to rapidly scale the operation. As of writing this in march of 2022, XiRepair has two store locations, 13 employees and has received mail in repairs from almost every state in the union. I am still building my dreams and hopefully you can follow me along in my journey of fixing the world one device at a time.
Luckily, GoDaddy’s refund policy allowed me to “return” the CAIR club domain for a much better ca-iphonerepair.com. Having the keywords “iPhone Repair” would help me rank locally plus represent the brand much better than the previous domain. Within days of tweaking the website’s keywords, my phone was ringing off the hook! I had more business than ever.
I was too embarrassed at first to have customers come to my home due to the location and appearance I couldn’t legally drive myself anywhere at 15 years old, so I did the next best thing. I’d have customers meet me at the McDonalds about a mile from my house. I packed all my tools and parts into my backpack and set off to fix the customer’s device while they ate a Big Mac. It was a win-win. The best part about fixing the customer’s devices was their face when I would meet them in
person for the first time. I sounded so professional on the phone that many first time clients admitted later on that they had no idea I was an underage kid until it was time to write the check. Once I was old enough to drive legally, I used the money I earned to purchase my very own car. Having a vehicle allowed me to expand my customer base significantly. I no longer had to convince customers to come to me, I could go to them!