From the September 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

The word geek conjures up many images: Dungeons & Dragons clubs, Star Wars debates, Anthony Michael Hall in John Hughes' movies . . . and tech-savvy, "A+"-getting people.

Richard Cole, 48, is betting on those associations to garner customers for Geeks on Call, the franchise he founded to provide on-site IT services to small and midsized businesses.

A former division president with media conglomerate Landmark Communications, Cole grew frustrated having to take his computer to a repair center when it broke down, often getting it back in no better shape. He wondered why the technician couldn't just come to his office or home, see the problem and fix it on the spot.

After two years of testing, Cole put those thoughts into action when he started Norfolk, Virginia-based Geeks on Call in 1999. The company began franchising this year and already has 10 franchisees up and running.

Geeks on Call franchisees don't need a tech background unless they plan to service computers. The actual service, which includes maintenance, training and networking, can be handled by technicians hired by the franchisee.

The business also works for those who have lots of tech experience but need the back-room support, because the franchisor answers phones and does the advertising and dispatching. In that case, says Cole, "a franchisee does what they really enjoy doing, which is fixing computers." Sounds like geek nirvana.

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