Keith Fix is the kind of customer that mobile service providers dream about and believe exists only in myth: a tech-savvy 20-year-old who runs his own business.
The youthful demographic and the small-biz designation represent a market frontier rich with potential. Fix started his business adventures as a freshman in high school, and what was originally a web marketing venture has evolved into ProvenPowerful Inc. , an IT help firm that remotely diagnoses and fixes home PC problems. Not bad for a self-funded company in Omaha, Neb., with just three full-time and six contracted employees.
Fix also may be the poster boy for a new generation of mobile entrepreneurs: He conducts much of his business from his iPhone. "The iPhone really transformed the way I use mobile," Fix says. "The biggest selling point for me was the extensive app library. I'll keep my phone until it dies or a model with enough additional features (like the ability to have multiple instances running at the same time) entices me to upgrade. I've had my phone since February and can't remember what life was like before then."
An average business day finds the ProvenPowerful founder on his iPhone, interfacing with a customized technician-scheduling system the firm created through Google Calendar. "I can view their schedules in real time on my phone since it automatically updates. I keep a close eye on unresolved support requests," Fix says. "I recently discovered Mint, a personal financial app that also works great for monitoring our budgets and making sure we stay on target. We're even exploring an app that would allow our technicians to remote into customer PCs from their iPhone or iPod touch."
Fix has taken full advantage of Apple's applications library. "Hands down, my favorite mobile business app is Bump." he says. "It's a virtual business card that allows you to swap contact info and pictures with other iPhone users by bumping into them. I've met some of my key business contacts through bumping."
Dan O'Shea is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering telecom, mobile and other high-tech topics for nearly 20 years.