Breaking the Mold and Fixing Your Phone
There are more mobile devices in our world today than there are people. We use them to call people, browse the internet, surf social media, for gaming, and to conduct our business.
When our device breaks, it breaks our day.
Glass Smith has realized that pain point and has vowed to unbreak your day.
Blue Crump and Jordan Jez, co-founders of Glass Smith both come from large families. Over a casual discussion of stealing their siblings’ upgraded devices, they realized how much of a pain it is to get one repaired. Says Crump, “You could give up half a Saturday at an Apple Store for an appointment you had to schedule in advance, or walk into a local shop and give a complete stranger access to your personal and private data. What if we could provide for convenience and privacy, and bring these services to you?”
Describing Glass Smith’s model can be a bit confusing, as they don’t actually fix your phones. “I immediately see the ‘oohhhh, very cool’ moment when I say we’re like Uber for your smartphone.” Glass Smith has created an LMS (Learning Management System) to train employees, or “Smiths”, how to fix devices. They learn about specific repairs and devices, and how to protect the privacy of their clients. Upon completion, Glass Smith provides tools and supplies, and an app that allows them to manage and schedule repairs on their own schedules. “We posted positions at 8 schools last month, and had 450 applicants. People are really interested in being a part of a startup and getting in on that side-gig economy.”
Another unusual thing for a startup is the legal disclaimer on the Glass Smith website. This is where developing the entrepreneurial mindset bore fruit for the founders. “I’ve learned to really place a high importance on covering your bases. I’ve seen friends name and brand a company, then discover that someone had already trademarked it. I’ve even been one of those unfortunate case studies. And since we deal with people’s personal data, having our attorney generate terms and conditions before we launched was a must.”
Venture Creation University
Venture Creation University is VCU's strategy for ensuring all students are exposed to innovation and entrepreneurship and have access to entrepreneurial pathways. To find out more about this effort, and to learn about innovation and entrepreneurial programs offered at VCU, visit: http://entrepreneurship.vcu.edu/
Did everyone hear that? Sage advice.
Glass Smith also has a bit of a conscience. “Recycling” has a large presence on their website and presentations. “In doing our research, we found that around 30,000 phones break every day in America. Our devices all contain Coltan, a mineral mined all over the Congo. This mining displaces gorillas and elephants, and is devastating to their environment. Electronic waste is also devastating to our environment here at home. We’re not going to save the world, but buying your used device, and reusing and recycling components is our way of making a dent.”
Crump was an Industrial + Product Design major at Virginia Tech, and is currently finishing his graduate degree at the da Vinci Center for a Masters in Product Innovation. His product is certainly innovative, and his graduate studies are certainly honing his entrepreneurial mindset. Since returning to his home in Richmond, he’s also worked as a mentor for VNTR 460 Venture Creation students. He’s a big fan of startups and small businesses, and it excites him to see the impact our campus is having on the local business community.
With the support he’s received from VCU, Crump sees VCU as a real Venture Creation University that encourages students and faculty to have that entrepreneurial mindset. He notes the strength of VCU’s da Vinci Center, and the role it’s played for him. “By bringing together students from Arts, Engineering, Business, and other schools, I’m placed in real-world scenarios from the incubation phase. They hold me to a high standard, and ask questions that challenge my assumptions about building a startup. That interaction helped Jordan and I create a more concise business model, and we have a better understanding of where we need to go.”
One of the perks of being here in Richmond and at VCU was the opportunity for Glass Smith to be invited into accelerator Lighthouse Labs. “We were one of 7 startups chosen from over 120 applicants. Lighthouse provides 13 weeks of mentorship, guidance, connections, and $20,000 in startup capital. It’s amazing how much of an impact they’ve made. The 20 companies they’ve worked with over the last three years have raised $7 million in financing! That’s an average of $350,000 per company!”
All of this work and due diligence has paid off. Glass Smith has Smiths on ten campuses across the country, and have a solid plan to begin marketing to businesses, hotels and military bases. “With our metrics, customer acquisition costs, and fantastic feedback, Jordan and I are primed to reach out and start raising some serious capital.”
If you’ve manage to break your day by breaking your phone, visit the Glass Smith website to schedule your own Smith. You can also go to them each Tuesday and Thursday from 2 until 5 in Founder’s Corner. They’ll unbreak you.