Jimmy Atkinson has more than six years of computer training under his belt, which is impressive for a man of 20. This uncommon Colorado State University student operates from just west of campus, setting technological problems straight with experience gathered from a lifetime with computers. Virus-ridden systems, sluggish laptops, and shattered cell phones all find relief under Jimmy's care. He also maintains a stock of hardware, including custom-length ethernet cables, wireless routers, and album mounts for clients' classic floppy discs.
Though it originally sold only two things—audio products and wireless phones—Car Toys has gradually expanded its repertoire. Today, with 50 locations spread across four states, electronics-certified technicians install everything from Alpine in-dash navigation units to phone-integration systems that sync iPhones, Androids, and tin cans to car stereos. Meanwhile, in the garage, detailing technicians meticulously spruce up cars inside and out, using deionized water, paint-friendly shampoos, and high-quality wash mitts to protect against scratches, swirls, and water spots. The team also sweeps through interiors with vacuums, hot-water extractors, and ozone deodorizing treatment, which kills airborne bacteria and nasty smells in one fell swoop.
From its modest origins in a garage, Appliance Factory Outlet & Mattresses has blossomed into a full-fledged appliance-vending behemoth with 14 locations throughout Colorado. The outlet compiles an enormous collection of handy household appliances from top-quality brands such as GE, Whirlpool, LG, KitchenAid, Sealy,and Tempur-pedic.
At each location, knowledgeable staffers shepherd patrons through sprawling showrooms, which collectively tout more than 150,000 pieces of equipment, including laundry machinery, kitchen appliances, microwaves, and macrowaves. They can special order items not in stock or tap into a stash of spare parts to repair busted apparatus. In addition to appliances, the staff can point patrons toward a fleet of mattresses and overstock items.
As their name implies, the technicians at Data Doctors see computers as patients, and look to cure CPU maladies rather than simply treating symptoms. In the span of a short wait, the team diagnoses the problem at hand and determines the best course of action, should it be repairs, upgrades, or complete replacements. The winner of a Spirit of Enterprise Award by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and fluent in both Windows and Mac systems, the computer sleuths root out viruses and spyware, optimize drives with defragmentation and registry cleaning, and even delve into cases to drive out fan-choking dust and infestations of robotic ants. Once services are complete, they chat with each customer to explain how best to prevent a return visit.
The team's expertise also extends to the sale and setting up of new computers, including the safe transfer of data from old hard drives to new ones. To keep businesses running smoothly, Data Doctors can set up new networks, lend supplemental IT help, and recover data lost to the void.
uBreakiFix CEO Justin Wetherill spoke with Groupon about the importance of protecting your smartphone and the challenges of fixing a phone that has been dropped into a deep fryer.
On the worst thing you can do after cracking your smartphone?s glass screen
?Don?t just put it into your pocket and continue to use it,? Wetherill says. The broken glass can actually cause serious damage to the phone?s inner components and turn a relatively simple fix into a costly repair job.
On the repair process
"Look, this is something we do every day," Wetherill says. "You are not the first person to break a phone.? Collectively, uBreakiFix's highly trained technicians repair more than 20,000 devices a month, drawing from a library of high-quality parts that are tested twice before they ever get used in a repair service. Free diagnostics are a staple at all uBreakiFix locations, so customers understand the problem before any work is done.
On growing his business
uBreakiFix began as a business based out of Wetherill?s living room, and it now boasts more than 60 locations nationwide. ?We are proof that the American dream is alive,? he says.
On unusual repair jobs
Wetherill remembers one fast-food employee who dropped her phone into a restaurant?s deep fryer. ?It smelled pretty bad,? he said; however, the repairs were successful. Another customer lost his phone in a cement mixer. After some serious effort, the technicians were able to safely recover all of the important data, but the phone died a few hours later. As Wetherill pointed out, ?it did go through a cement mixer.? Some miracles just aren?t meant to be.
On the importance of a one-day turnaround time
Repairs at uBreakiFix?s store locations can often take as little as an hour, according to Wetherill. This is a critical part of the shops' focus?something Wetherill personally understands. If forced to choose between spending the weekend without his smartphone or his left arm, he jokes that he would pick the arm. ?Of course, this is assuming that there wouldn?t be any pain,? he laughs.