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Sat 6 Apr 2019 12:46 AM

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Entrepreneur of the Week: Trio behind Dubai's solar-powered gadget hero Fixerman

Prithwi Raj and brothers Jassim and Ziyad Bangara want customers to get their electronic devices fixed from wherever they are, in a speedy average time of just 20 minutes

Entrepreneur of the Week: Trio behind Dubai's solar-powered gadget hero Fixerman

Why the decision to launch Fixerman? Where did the idea come from?

JB: There are several reasons why we started Fixerman. We studied and analysed the market for more than a year before we came to some revelations and pain points.

To start off, we found there was a serious lack of quality service provide rs in the market. Our study found that most of the market in Dubai uses low quality parts in the fixes, which were detrimental to the health of the device. Most service centers in Dubai do not adhere to any international standards of operation, hence lacking credibility. We took an approach that ensured our service centers are ESD compliant (Electro-Static Discharge), and built to AASP (Apple Authorized Service Provider) standards. This not only enables to do deep level repairs with minimal risk to the technician, but also allows us to give a ‘real’ warranty to our customers.

We also discovered that long turnaround time is a major industry issue. There have been times when repair centers keep your device for up to a week to diagnose. Our phones are an integral part of our lifestyles today, especially in a tech-savvy city like Dubai, and we felt most service centres failed to understand that. Keeping this in mind, we built our infrastructure that allows turning around a device within as quick as 20 minutes. Additionally, it’s hardly a secret that people work incredibly long hours here. In the middle of a hectic day, it truly is a hassle to hunt down a credible vendor (possibly in a shopping mall) and hope they can fix your phone on the spot using proper technical expertise. Realising that accessibility is key in Dubai, we launched our premium ‘We Will come to you’ service. Customers love the convenience aspect of this where they can get their devices fixed at the comfort of wherever they are – be it home or work.

Where does the name come from?

ZB: We always had an idea of building a brand around a character that we can count on. We envisioned a unique concept and the name had to reflect that, hence ‘Fixerman’ is your gadget hero.

What is your business model?

JB: Customers have the option of picking from three of our services. We can come to your location via the Middle East’s first solar powered service centre, we call it FixerVan, and fix your device ASAP. Another option is for our Fixerhawk Bike messenger to pick up your device, fix it in our studio and drop it back to you wherever you are, otherwise, customers can come to our state-of-the-art service studio in Business Bay, where they can relax in the waiting area with jazz music in the background, and enjoy refreshments as their gadget is being fixed.

Why should customers opt for Fixerman instead of a more traditional approach to fixing devices? How do prices compare and what is your pricing strategy?

PR: There are several reasons why. All our technicians have undergone two years of professional training and have at least four years of experience before they joined Fixerman. As for pricing, a lot of customers previously felt that fixing was an expensive affair or customers were not getting value for what they were paying for. We reverse engineered our entire business model to allow us to beat all our competitors. For example, we have implemented JIT Inventory model wherein we don’t incur any storage costs as we ‘pull’ parts when required using complex alogrithms and trend forecasts. This allows us to give our customers [affordable] prices.

Customers love a bit of extra care, too, so after every fix, we ‘sterilise’ the device before returning to the customer, which kills 99 percent of germs on the device. Things like these differentiate us from the rest.

Lastly, we accept our responsibility to our planet. All fixes that we do in our Fixervan is done using clean energy as a result of solar panels installed on the roof of the van.

What are your expansion plans for Fixerman?

JB: We initially started with fixing phones, but we are now fixing laptops and tablets as well. Along with our FixerVan, we have also added FixerHawk, a two wheeler bike we have added to our fleet, which will enable us to pick up and drop off any device from any given location in Dubai. By Q1 of 2020, we wish to secure our next round of funding and enter the three more Emirates in the country, and by Q4 we aim to begin our operations in other GCC countries. We see tremendous opportunity in KSA where we are conceptualising a very unique model to cater to the Kingdom’s needs.

What is your vision for Fixerman and what do you see it growing into?

JB: Our vision is to become the best service center in the Middle East and become a household name in this field, much like Google and Apple. We want to be the best at what we do and become a pioneer in all repair services. We aim to achieve this vision with sustainable growth and also by operating as an environmentally responsible company. We have already announced our CSR initiative to bring awareness of the dangers and threats of e-waste. Our initiative aims to address the country's e-waste management problem through collecting and recycling retired devices from your doorstep to minimize the impact of high electronic consumption on the environment.

Why the decision to launch a mobile business, and is it less costly to set up than a grounded business?

PR: It always depends on the business. People in Dubai are used to a certain level of convenience, hence for our service, easiness is an attractive prospect to a customer.

Our FixerVan is the region’s first solar powered mobile service centre. Dubai has plenty of solar energy and fortunately enough, green technology keeps operational costs low. This value proposition is replicated across to make sure we are keeping the whole business extremely lean.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re currently facing with Fixerman?

PR: Like any new business, there are innumerable challenges facing us.

Scaling our operations has been a huge learning curve for us. As the number of enquiries increase, there’s a trickle down effect on our entire operations and we spent the last year perfecting the art of scaling up. Our team has increased four fold from how we were when we started. Moreover, there is always a fine line that divides quality and price. We all want the best possible product and service for the best price as customers. Defining that line is a continuous challenge, which we have been overcoming by offering consistent unbeatable service quality.

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