“It became the coolest college job where I was making $30 to $40,000 a year fixing phones.”

iCracked interview: We want PC stores to repair a smartphone in 30 minutes

iCracked has spoken to PCR about its unique service, the search for UK-based staff and its desire to work with UK indies.

The mobile smartphone maintenance service that sends specialised technicians out to iPhone users in distress, has launched in London and is recruiting people to join its team of iTechs across the UK.

AJ Forsythe, co-founder of iCracked, tells PCR how his own clumsiness sparked the idea for the service, why he wants to bring the company to the UK and how he is aiming to be able to get a broken phone into the hands of a technician within just 30 minutes.

PCR: How did it start?

A.J Forsythe: It started about four years ago. I broke my phone about five times before fixing it myself, and the fifth time I was like ‘shit! I’ve spent over $1,000 getting these things repaired, I may as well try fixing it myself.

I actually made it worse than it was before I tried to fix it, but I eventually got round to it, and then decided to hand out some flyers.

It’s actually super funny, I hung a bunch of flyers at a university in California and started getting calls from people wanting me to fix their phones in the dorms and it became the coolest college job where I was making $30,000 to $40,000 a year fixing phones. It was awesome.

So the challenge was how we were going to scale it from what it was to where we are now. We have about 1,100 people in the company now and we are going to add about 300 in the UK this year.

We try and provide all parts, tools and marketing material and most importantly customers to our technicians.

We have a lot of people who run brick and mortar repair shops that apply to be an iTech, and what we look at is if they have a certain quality of reviews, how many customers they are servicing, and obviously can they do mobile?

If they fit those criteria they get taken on as an iTech. We have some stores in the US, which will do over £200,000 in repairs in a year just by responding to customers, it’s crazy.

Can anyone apply to be an iTech?

Yes, anyone can apply but we generally only accept about five to ten per cent of people that apply. We keep our standards pretty high – but if you are in the industry chances are we would love to talk to you. But we do have about 5,000 people a year apply to be an iTech.

What is the interview process?

We do a three step interview process – back ground check, personality test, subjective and objective scoring and if you are accepted there is about 30 hours of training and then once you get the training we start funneling customers to you.

We’ll bring on maybe 300 to 350 iTechs this month in the US. There are 30 in the UK right now and then we’ll add about 100 in Greater London in the next year, then another 400 in the UK over the next year or so.

How do people apply?

iCracked.com/itechs. It’s very easy to find if you go to our website.

What is the deal for iTechs?

We will become a supplier of iCracked customers and then we send out customers based on if the iTech is able to service them.

When will this roll out across the whole of the UK?

I think probably in the next three months. We are hitting it very aggressively.

What is the desired wait time between maintenance call and an iTech arriving?

We shoot for 24 hours or less. When you put in a request we shoot for the first two minutes or less to get in contact to arrange an appointment for the day after or on the day if they can.

Can PC stores sign up?

PC Stores can sign up and then we run them through our process.

What are your aims and ambitions here in the UK?

I think building a brand that people know and trust is first and foremost, then we generally try and raise the bar of repair because there is a lot of sketchy experiences that people have in kiosks or brick-and-mortar, and we want to build a system where you press a button and an iTech technician shows up and gives you the best customer service you’ve ever had, fixing your device in 20 or 30 minutes.

Are you on the stock market in the US?

No we’re not, we are still private. But we might at some point.

Would you ever consider partnering with a large retailer?

If it makes sense then yes, but right now we would rather partner with entrepreneurs that have already built stuff than existing brands. But that may change.

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