Published November 01, 2013
No one is happy to turn over a recently-dropped iPhone to see the delicate, and pricey, screen shattered into a million pieces. But AJ Forsythe said that the many phone screens he cracked while in college may have been the best thing to have happened to him.
“I broke my phone one too many times, and was probably Apple’s best customer to have my phone replaced, and I went to a career center and had a bunch of resumes, and was looking for a summer job,” Forsythe says. “It fell into place that I had a broken phone and repaired it myself a few days prior.”
He went to his school library and got to work, starting his company in 2010 as a junior in college at California Polytechnic State University, with cofounders Leslee Lambert and Anthony Martin.
The company has turned under $1 million in funding into a projected $10 million in revenue this year. iCracked has more than 400 iTechs across the country that actually go straight to customers to fix their devices at their homes, work, coffee shops and more, at their own convenience in under 30 minutes. Users can visit iCracked.com, enter their information and have an appointment that same day.
“Our whole goal is to make this an extremely seamless process for our customers,” Forsythe said. “We believe it’s 2013 and you shouldn’t be traveling to a store making appointments and essentially wasting time.”
Most repairs are under $100, but newer model iPads and iPhones run a bit steeper, for around $150 between 20 different Apple devices, he says. For now, the focus will remain on Apple, as Forsythe says the Android market remains “fragmented,” and from a branding perspective they aim to be “the best at repairing the products they know best.”
“We have a couple thousand people a month apply to be iTechs, and you set your own schedule, services our own customers… you make incredible money and we funnel customers to our iTechs,” he said.
iCracked launched a new Express Buyback Program last week in New York City, which gives customers cash back on a branded debit card for their old phones and iPads. They can either use these as a debit card, or take out cash with them at an ATM or bank. The program is available in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well.
“There are about $10 million dollars of used iPhones and iPods in people’s sock drawers and desk drawers at home,” Forsythe says. “We think the system of selling them is essentially broken. You shouldn’t have to mail them in and wait for a check or a revised offer. You should press a button, our iTechs come to you, you get a quote…charge up a prepaid card and give you cash. The whole process takes under 10 minutes.”
In the future Forsythe says he hopes to offer insurance plans, to better service its customers as a one-stop-shop for iOS devices.
“We are very interested in getting into insurance and tying in repairing, buyback and insurance together. We think that will be very powerful when we have those three parts and customers can use us as the AAA of their iOS devices,” he said.