It's All Geek to Me

Do you want to start a tech business but think you have to be a computer geek? Not so, says this franchisee.
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This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

Diana Formanek is not exactly what you'd call a tech wizard. She bought her first computer just two years ago, and it took her about a year to figure out how to burn CDs. Despite this dubious track record, Formanek, 28, had few concerns about becoming a Friendly Mobile Computer Services franchisee. "I was technically challenged, and I honestly didn't even want to learn it," she says. "I thought 'We'll just hire the tech people.'"

Since March 2002, Formanek and her husband, Rob, 35, have been dispatching techs from their homebased franchise to help families and businesses with computer problems. The Formaneks also repair computers at their home in Omaha, Nebraska. Their revenue from the 10 months they operated during 2002 totaled $73,000, while their projected sales for this year are expected to be in the neighborhood of $110,000.

Spending so much time around computers has provided Diana, who previously worked in the restaurant management field, some on-the-job tech training. "Kind of by osmosis, I've picked it up to the point where I actually do work on some computers in the shop," she says. Diana credits this developing tech proficiency with making her a better manager to her team of two tech-support people. "In restaurant management, I learned the employees work harder for you when they actually see you delve in, get your hands dirty and do the same things they do," she says.

As her computer skills increase, so does Diana's vision for the Friendly Mobile Computer Services franchise that she and her husband own and operate together. The Formaneks, who have two young children and are expecting another baby in June, plan to move to St. Louis in the near future . . . and they've decided to take their franchise with them. "We'd like to own multiple units," Diana says, "maybe six or seven before we top off."

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