Thanks to our ever-connected world, upgrading laptops, cell phones and other devices can be a yearly — or even monthly — expense, creating 9.4 million tons of electronic waste in the U.S. each year. Yet, recycling e-waste is relatively new, and finding a reliable place for tech repair can be difficult.
Enter Pan Pan Chen and his business, Xpress Tech Repair — a company that he initially launched as part of his Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation course. Chen had prior experience fixing cracked screens and buttons as an IT technician, and, after conducting some initial research, he realized that Xpress Tech Repair could fill a major need within the Clarkson community. It was a simple case of supply and demand.
“We wanted to give people an alternative to the other tech repair companies in the area by providing service that is fast, affordable and high-quality,” says Chen, a business major who is also a freelance web designer. “So far, we’ve done about $5,000 in sales and plan to broaden our repair potential as we scale to the next level.”
Xpress Tech Repair started small. The four-person company — including Chen and fellow Clarkson students Carter Rollins, Reece Emero and Thomas Withiam — initially focused on minor cell phone and computer repairs (like cracked screens) and has recently evolved to include making custom-length Ethernet cables and refurbishing and fixing wireless Bluetooth headsets.
Pan Pan Chen '20 BS Business Studies
“We plan on expanding to more complex repairs, like using microsoldering to replace motherboard-level components, in the upcoming months,” says Chen, adding that microsoldering helps reduce e-waste because these small, yet complex, fixes often bring devices back to life, resulting in fewer devices ending up in landfills. “It allows us to help the environment while making a profit.”
Chen, who selected Clarkson because of its solid business and computer science programs, pitched his idea to a group of investors as part of his class. He succeeded in obtaining $2,500 in startup capital, which he used to purchase specialized tools for mobile repair, the soldering station and computer and cell phone parts for repairs. Since the company’s first sale in April 2016, Chen says that their focus has expanded to include setting up a stable supply chain for authentic replacement parts, advertising and looking at different ways to continually grow.
“We really see the business potential,” says Chen, who runs Xpress Tech Repair’s online store, adding that the business has also set up e-stores on eBay, Amazon and other electronics marketplaces. “We definitely plan to continue the business in the future.”