Here’s a shocker—iPhones and iPads are not cheap.
Yet, they’re oh-so-easy to break, crack, melt down or accidentally douse with water.
Those facts are exactly the reason why iCracked is one of the hottest start-ups around right now.
iCracked - with headquarters in both Dallas, Tex. and right here in Redwood City - specializes in iPhone repair, including replacing broken screens and repairing water damage for all iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad models.
Since taking off at the start of 2010, the company has grown to now offer services in 120 locations across the country, and was recently accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator incubator program for start-ups – a feat most companies can only dream of achieving.
From dorm room to board room
AJ Forsythe, iCracked’s talented young founder and CEO, is the epitome of an “Apple geek” – though he probably prefers the term “Apple enthusiast.”
“I've been an Apple enthusiast for quite a while, I think they're excellent products,” he said. “It's always kind of a bummer to see them broken.”
As a student at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Forsythe always prided himself on having the latest, greatest Apple product at his fingertips. But, as a young college student, naturally, he didn’t always have the available cash to run right out and get a new iPhone whenever his broke.
So, one day, he decided to sit right down and figure out how to repair the darn thing himself – and, he actually succeeded.
Naturally, Forsythe became the most popular guy in the dorm when word spread of his iPhone repair prowess. He was called upon frequently to repair the gadgets of all his friends, and his friends’ friends.
“So [the idea for iCracked] kind of grew organically from there,” he explained. “I love my Apple products, as we all do, and I wanted to help people keep them in the excellent condition they should be in.”
The iCracked concept
There are three different ways iCracked can help you if you suffer from a cracked screen, bleeding LCD or waterlogged iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
Your first option is to order one of iCracked’s handy-dandy, do-it-yourself home repair kits.
While that may sound like a daunting and risky task, iCracked says it’s a lot easier than you think – because they make it as easy as possible for you, with step-by-step video tutorials and detailed, instructional flowcharts.
“We give everyone [who orders our home repair kits] the premium tools - not the cheap ones like you find on Amazon and eBay,” assures iCracked public relations director Paul Iliya. “And the tutorial videos and flowcharts really show you how to do it well.”
Most importantly though, iCracked stands by its customers if the home repair kit just doesn’t perform as promised.
“Unfortunately that does happen about 5 percent of the time, and we then offer a discount on our mail-in repair services, or have them visit one of our iTechs,” Iliya explained. “So, we really take care of them.”
If all of that still sounds too harrowing for you, your second option with iCracked is to go with the company’s mail-in repair services, which involves simply sending your broken product to “iCracked Central” in Redwood City, where their experts will fix it for you, good as new, and send it back to you, usually within three to five days via FedEx.
Lastly, if you don’t want to attempt to repair it yourself, and you’re kind of in a hurry, you can hook up with one of the company’s local iTechnicians, or “iTechs.” They will arrange a meet with you and repair your product for you, on the spot. Just go to www.iCracked.com to find the iTech nearest you.
Technicians are currently located on most major college campuses and urban areas across the U.S., with 120 locations to date.
How much does all of this cost? Home repair kits can run anywhere from $30-85 on average. Visiting with an iTech is around $59, and mailing in a product for repair runs around $50-125, depending on the needed repairs. All of that is much less than buying a new phone, and iCracked boasts a 90 percent success rate on its repair services – yes, even for water damage! - which it also backs with a one-year warranty.
Customer Anne Sud jokingly tells the story of how she first found out about iCracked.
"One of their founding employees stopped me in Safeway to hand me his business card," she said. "Embarrassingly, he was able to see that the front screen of my iPhone was cracked from many feet away."
When, two days later, she dropped her phone and the back of the phone shattered as well, she set up an appointment with an iTech.
"Instead of paying $400 to repair both cracked surfaces, I paid a fraction of that price and was able to set up a time with iCracked so that I didn't have to go to the [Apple] store and wait hours for a technician at the Genius Bar to service my phone," she said. "I'm a huge fan and I think that their idea is a fantastic one that provides flexibility and less hassle for their customers."
What does the future hold for iCracked?
As the company nears the end of its three-month program with Y Combinator, Forsythe and his team are readying themselves for the incubator’s final step – a huge presentation on iCracked’s concept and business model for a host of investors and venture capitalists.
“We’re really excited about the presentation, because we’re looking to raise money for our super-seed round,” Forsythe explained.
Forsythe said, should iCracked get the additional funds they’re seeking, they plan to continue expanding across the country, and also expand the company’s offerings as well.
“We want to get out of just exclusive Apple products, and also look into retail and insurance partnerships,” said Forsythe.
In order to accomplish these and other goals, Forsythe said the company is “hiring like crazy” – so if you’re on the job hunt, you may want to check them out.
Even if someone just wants to make a little extra cash on the side, Forsythe said the training to become an independent iTech “can be done in about an hour.”
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