Q&A with Juan Pablo Garcia, student entrepreneur and tech guru
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article misidentified Garcia's company as Geek Squad. His company's name is GEEEK Squad. In addition, his former place of employment was listed as Triangle Cellular Repair, when it was Cell Phone Repair Apex. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.
Juan Pablo Garcia, a sophomore computer science major, is a UNC student and owner of local technology business GEEEK Squad. Staff writer Grace Carney asked him about his business and how he manages all of his responsibilities.
Daily Tar Heel: What does your company do exactly?
Juan Pablo Garcia: Pretty much we do a little bit of software and hardware, so we fix broken screens, batteries, etc. We do phones, tablets, computers, drones and sometimes we have TVs, that’s about it.
DTH: How long have you had this business?
JPG: For around two years now.
DTH: When did you get the idea to start it? Why did you decide to start it?
JPG: It all started with me working for another company, and for the other company I was kind of doing everything. I just thought to myself, ‘If I am handling this business by myself, why not handle it on my own?’ So I started with doing deliveries and fixing phones and tablets for friends, and those friends kind of started spreading the word and got more people asking me. So, once I had a little bit of clientele, I just decided to open up a little business, and that’s how everything started.
DTH: What was the other company you worked for?
JPG: I worked in (Cell Phone Repair) and iFixit.
DTH: When did you get a start in technology? How old were you?
JPG: When I was around 14, a freshman in high school.
DTH: Are you a full-time student?
JPG: No, I am not. I am a part-time student.
DTH: Can you explain how you are a part-time student at Durham Tech and UNC?
JPG: To make my life a little bit better financially. Do you know what Middle College is? So, pretty much Middle College is when you are a junior in high school, and if you have a good enough GPA, you are able to go to community college like Durham Tech, and you take high school classes and some college classes at the same time, so you take your first freshman year college classes as a senior or junior in high school, but you do it at a community college so they pay for your classes. I was lucky enough to take Middle College when they offered me that opportunity to pay for half my classes at UNC and half my classes at Durham Tech, whether it was online or on-campus, and it made my financial circumstance way better.
DTH: Have you taken any classes that have enhanced your business skills or computer science and technology skills in any way?
JPG: Yes, I have taken a few courses like Microsoft, IT Support, SAA courses, I am also taking COMP 401, and a lot of those classes have helped me with business, because instead of just me doing hard work, with a little bit of knowledge from those classes I was able to gain more into the software side as well.
DTH: How many employees do you have?
JPG: Right now, three.
DTH: What are the responsibilities of your employees?
JPG: They are all technicians, and pretty much they are responsible to manage the store when I am not here, keep track of our income and how many repairs we do per day and fix whatever supplies comes through the door.
DTH: How do you balance your academic work with your business?
JPG: This type of business helps me on top of my school work because it’s not like a restaurant where people are coming in every two minutes. With this type of work, we have only a few sales per day, and it gives me free time here at the shop to do homework as well.
DTH: What are some of the long term goals of your company?
JPG: Long term goals is trying to make this company grow bigger and expand into other cities.
DTH: How do you generate new ideas?
JPG: I have a box here for customers to give me suggestions, and that helps a lot, whether it is prices, new ideas or devices we should start learning to work on as well.
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