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What: Fast repairs for electronic devices
Who: Ben Levy and Aaron Vronko of RapidRepair.com
Where: Kalamazoo, Michigan
When: Started in 2004
Startup Costs: Approximately $1,500
Four years ago, when Ben Levy broke his iPod after tinkering with it, he began searching online forums for a solution. What he discovered, however, was that many people were in the same boat and Apple's warranty often didn't cover certain repairs, or they were very costly.
He and his friend Aaron Vronko, 25, decided to purchase a few broken iPods and teach themselves how to fix them. Before long, they were offering low-cost repairs on iPods and other small electronic devices. As demand for their services grew, Vronko and Levy, now 28, officially launched RapidRepair.com in 2004 with $1,500 from their personal savings.
Today, the site handles more than 500 repairs a week from across the nation and 65 countries worldwide, with customers mailing in their broken products to be serviced within 24 to 48 hours. The 15-employee Kalamazoo, Michigan-based company also boasts some offerings unique to its name: It is the first to offer color modifications for iPods and is the creator of the iVue clear panel, which is available for several iPod models.
"[The biggest challenge for us] was making the transition from a small group of friends getting paid to do what interests us to a medium-size professional organization of co-workers with divergent interests, skills and priorities," says Vronko.
With 2008 sales projections at more than $3 million, Vronko sees the company evolving in the next few years to meet the rapid changes of the technology market and says its success is largely due to the low cost of launching the site."We wouldn't have been able to open a store in Kalamazoo and be supported by a walk-in customer base," says Vronko. "Being an online business has allowed us to reach a larger customer base and has gotten us to the status we are at today."