Yaffet Meshesha wants to be your middleman when it comes to laptop repair. The 21-year-old White Plains native founded Techy earlier this year to facilitate computer repairs and do all the legwork between the customer and the repair shop.
“You can fill out a form or you can call us and we’ll fill it out for you,” Meshesha said. “Then we come and pickup your laptop. We take it to one of our repair shops and they go about resolving it. When they’re done they let us know and we send a courier to pick it up and give it back to you. Throughout the whole process you’ll know what’s going on and you’ll know how much it’s going to cost.”
Though Techy advertises as serving the Washington, D.C., area, Meshesha said he mainly operates in the District for now because he hasn’t yet contracted with any repair shops outside the city and the metropolitan population density supports the on-demand courier service he uses, Postmates.
“With this new platform we’ll have to stick to D.C. for now because we haven’t gotten any other repair shops outside the city,” he said. “We’ve gotten requests [from other repair shops] but we’ll stick to D.C. for now. When we expand we’ll contact them and get local repair shops on board.”
The current pricing is flat-rate: $70 for software fixes and $100 for hardware work sans parts. Meshesha said his pricing undercuts the bigger, more well-known players such as Apple and its Genius Bars and Geek Squad. He isn’t offering mobile device repairs like they do, but will work on the occasional desktop computer.
“We’re like every repair company but we go about the repair process a little differently,” he said. “Instead of making you run through the hoops of going to a repair shop, getting it diagnosed and paying an arm and a leg before you get your repair done, we just cut all that out. We require you to just fill out a repair form. That’s it. We do the rest.”
While he doesn’t guarantee same-day service, he said most repairs don’t take very long unless a part isn’t immediately available. “We found most repairs take about an hour so we can, a lot of times, give it back the same day,” he said.
His first customer back in May, when the service publicly launched, had a bad hard drive on her laptop.
He and a friend drove up to D.C. to get it — he wasn’t using a courier service yet — and brought it back to White Plains to fix it themselves. After it was done his friend suggested they drive back to the District and return it, so they did.
“He was paying for the gas,” he said, “so we got there and she was like ‘Oh my God, you guys are done?’ We picked it up at 9 a.m. and had it back to her at 1. She loved it.” The business came naturally to Meshesha having grown up repairing computers and fixing software problems for his extended family.
“Since I’ve been into computers, which is since grade school,” he said, “whenever I visit family for anything the first thing they say — not even ‘Hello’ — is ‘The computer’s over there, can you fix it?’”
He spent a couple of years at the University of Maryland Baltimore County studying computer engineering after high school but dropped out to work on a parking app for mobile devices. That didn’t pan out well financially so he redirected his efforts to computer repair and software fixes.
After a false start with a simple web page and a $15 fee for technical support, he and a friend landed on the idea for Techy. His friend quit the project in July but Meshesha decided to continue and grow the business.
So far, he’s had 50 customers with a 50 percent retention rate for a second repair. He’s also seen 15 percent of his customers come back a third time. He’s hoping the move toward more and more on-demand, delivery-to-your-door businesses will bode well for Techy.“There was a quote that I read that I was really impressed with: ‘We live in a world that anything you want you can have with a press of a button,’” he said. “Anything you want you can have with pajamas on, because you don’t have to leave your [house],” he added.
His website is www.trytechy.com.