111: How HelloTech Is Bringing IT Support To Your Door
Tonight we need to talk about our addiction to tech. It’s getting a little bit out of control. Only five years ago that little router in the corner there on that nice new shiny wireless network that provided an Internet connection in any room typically had a desktop PC and laptop connected. Fast forward five years, and we have multiple Smartphone’s, tablets, laptops, game consoles, smart TV’s and music systems. That router in the corner is already starting to get overloaded, but now IoT is waiting. IoT is going to bring toasters, fridges, washing machines, etc. all online too.
I recently came across a company called HelloTech. They have recently been described as Uber for IT support because it brings IT support to the home. Today we’re talking to Richard Wolpert, co-founder, and CEO of HelloTech.
As a pioneer in the fields of technology, consumer digital media and entertainment for more than 25 years and also having extensive experience as an executive entrepreneur and investor you have enjoyed an incredible journey in the tech world. As a man of many hats which roles do you enjoy most?
It’s actually been 32 years. I spent about 21 years from 1984 to about 2005 as an entrepreneur startup person operator. My career took a turn in 2006 or 2007 into angel investing accelerator mode where I was a venture partner for Excel Partners and co-founder of Amplify LA. Six years into that it became cleared to me that what I loved most was having an idea, building a team, building a culture, building a business and getting everybody excited about that and making that happen. So I got back into being an operator two years ago with the launch of Hello Tech in October 2014. I spend 90 percent of my time now as a startup founder at the age of 54, and I still do a little consulting for Excel and Amplify.
Can you tell the listeners what HelloTech and the services it provides?
We started the company about two years ago. We looked at the market segment of tech support, and we saw a couple of things we liked. One was a pre-existing market that was already big. The U.S alone (which is where we operate) is a 20 to 25 billion dollar market for consumer tech support. The second thing we noticed is there’s only one company here in the U.S that has any market share, and that’s the Geek Squad which is owned by Best Buy, and if you look at the reviews, people are unsatisfied with the service. We believed that over the next five years there would be a proliferation of smart home and internet of things products which would require in-home installation and support. HelloTech was formed with a particular focus on providing in-home tech support, not phone support.
Who is your typical customer and what kind of help do they come to you for?
We have two primary customers: one is my generation (I’m 54) so people 50 and older who aren’t like me and haven’t been in the tech sector for 30 years. They have some disposable income, and they love this technology, but it doesn’t come naturally to them. They don’t even want to read the manual to figure out how to install something they would rather pay to have someone come and fix their problem or install their new smart home product. The other primary customer we have is what we call the head of household. In most cases, in the U.S this is the mom, but in some situations, it’s the dad. They are the one that’s just responsible for making sure the wireless network is working, the printer is working and connected to the wireless hub, and the smartphones are all syncing to the cloud.
Do you have a similar service to small businesses as well?
Not yet. If you go to our site, there is a section for small businesses, but we’re doing those on a one-off basis. We will service thousands of customers a month that is residential, and we may do less than a dozen that is business. The reason for that is we’re just trying to experiment with and figure out if that is something we can add and be really good at and provide a super high-quality experience. As the home increases in complexity, the office has as well. In the office, you get into far more complex issues like VPN’s and secure networks and other problems.
Where does HelloTech serve? Is it just the U.S.A?
We absolutely do have plans to expand. There’s so much work to do in a start-up obviously. You have to complete steps A, B and C before you get to D. The requests we’ve seen the most are actually from Canada, and that would probably be the easiest expansion for us as well as the U.K because it’s English speaking and we wouldn’t have to modify our site or app, and we wouldn’t have to add multiple languages to our customer support. I see us adding Canada by the end of this year and then experimenting with a few countries in the E.U in 2017.
What’s the best way for anyone listening to find out more information?
The best way is just to go to www.hellotech.com or calling us at 1-800-640-9005.