Back in 2006, Julie Alexander Fourie was still finding his way through the maze of dorm rooms at Stellenbosch University in Western Cape, South Africa.
Like any undergrad who had any form of regard for their primary assignment in college, i.e academics, he would get up early every morning in preparation for the day’s school activities.
Fourie would probably help himself into a T-shirt and a pair of jeans as he got ready for school. With a pair of sneakers on and a book-laden backpack clung to his shoulders, he’s pretty much got the archetypal “college kid look” on lock.
You’d think he’s all set for the school day but there’s actually one thing left, and it’s not breakfast – well, as is so often the case for many a college student, breakfast was a luxury that couldn’t always be afforded.
The missing element is his iPod – Fourie never went to school without it. It may have been as much about the music as it was about the “companionship.”
Just like some would feel somewhat ‘naked’ if they stepped out without a watch on their wrist, Fourie may have been open to a similar feeling if he ever went to school without earphones on and his iPod in his pocket. Thus, he never did.
It does come across as the stuff of millennials and maybe a tad petty and juvenile too, but that was the man, Fourie, and perhaps many others who form the so-called “Generation-Y.”
The iPod had basically become a part of him. It was with him when he walked to class, and still with him when he sat through lectures and made his own his own notes – might be up for debate but there’s got to be some truth in the claim that many people do study better with music.
Things were going reasonably well for the young student – well, up until something began to threaten the stability of the little “love triangle” he had formed between himself, his iPod, and his studies.
Fourie’s iPod broke and having sought several opinions, it seemed the device was broken beyond redemption. From all indications, the fault was one that could not be fixed and the only option available was to endure life without his beloved iPod. Or, was it?
Fourie was adamant. He refused to stomach the idea of abandoning the device and took it upon himself to fix it even when the “pros” had told him it was a lost cause. The young lad was mainly upset by the thought of losing several years worth of “hard-earned” music files, and the frustration led him into seeking solutions.
After surfing the web for several weeks, Fourie found himself shopping for some electronic parts on eBay. With the aid of a Youtube video which he happened to have stumbled upon through a random web search, he managed to bring his iPod back to life. Believe it or not, he had just unearthed his inner genius.
Not long after, an iPod belonging to a friend of his developed a similar problem and this time, he fixed it in a lot less time and without having to look at some video.
Word soon got out and before long, Fourie’s small room had become some kind of hub for broken Apple products ranging from iPods to laptops – students within and outside his dormitory were seeking his services and they were willing to pay. And somehow, everything he touched just seemed to turn to gold.
Just like that, what seemed like juvenile obstinacy had birthed a business. Friends were beginning to refer friends to him and he was becoming even better at the endeavour with every broken device he fixed. Fourie had discovered his natural flair for the field.
That gave him confidence to advertise his talents through the Cape Ads platform and what followed was immediate calls from numerous individuals who had to have their devices fixed.
As many as twenty new fix requests were coming in on a daily and soon, Fourie had more on his plate than he could manage. He was to eventually hire a friend who was studying engineering to join him in the handling the repair works.
The duo worked together tirelessly and in 2007, the company, iFix, (now called weFix) was born. Within six months of starting the company in his dorm room, Fourie moved the company into a small store in Cape Town and a few more hands were hired to handle the increasing volume of work. And the rest is history.
These days, weFix is considered the go-to guy for all kinds of repair and maintenance work on all Apple products and Samsung smartphones in South Africa. Beyond fixing broken devices, the company has also delved into the sale of phone accessories and some cool gadgets.
Since inception, the company claims to have handled over 60,000 repairs on Apple products alone. Currently, it boasts as many as 10,000 clients monthly while employing up to 125 people who work out of a total of 11 stores in different locations across Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, George, and Nelspruit.
Under Fourie’s guidance, these specialist repair shops are also now sprouting alongside them some attractive in-house product lineups such as the chic wooden device casings and accessories brand, Houdt, and mobile charging stations known as Richarge, which is being exported to over a dozen countries across the globe.
The 32-year-old South African entrepreneur is also the brain behind innovative offereings like iSureFix; an affordable protection plan for Apple products, as well as uFix; a DIY Apple repair kit which is one-of-a-kind in Africa, while there are talks of launching iFix in some other African markets.
Featured Image Courtesy: entrepreneurmag.co.za
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