Montgomery’s tech business is growing under a couple
By the time Suraiya Begum was a teenager in LAMP High School, she was driving around town looking for deals on used phones that she could repair and sell.
“I come from a very, very poor family. I needed to support them financially, ”she said. “It was either going to college and getting a minimum wage job and struggling, or starting something that will help me take it a step further, get into the business world.”
At the same time, Robert E. Lee High School student Jonathan Strange was fixing phones for friends and, soon, for townspeople. He wasn’t old enough to drive, so sometimes he would go to restaurants to meet customers and fix their phones on the spot.
“I was very professional on the phone so they had no idea it was a 14 year old kid on the other side of the phone,” Strange said. “And then when they got up to get their $ 800 phone fixed, there’s me with my little backpack and all my little tools.”
Today a couple, Begum and Strange, both 21, share a commercial space at XiRepair in Montgomery. And this space is growing almost as fast as their ambition.
Strange started XiRepair as a teenager after seeing a need for consumer electronics repair services here, and he opened a small office in east Montgomery. But demand quickly overtook that location and in 2018 he opened a stand-alone location at 10684B Chantilly Parkway, with a Begum sharing space.
Now, they’ve opened a second location at 1625 Perry Hill Road near The Fresh Market, where they offer data recovery services, sell phones, and repair everything from restaurant point-of-sale devices to game consoles and even more. by drones. “If there was a power cable, we could probably fix it,” Strange said.
Begum’s Spike Phones business also moved inside the new location and expanded, buying used phones, inspecting circuit boards and certifying phones for consumer resale. “A lot of companies buy phones in bulk,” Begum said. “Once they buy new phones for their employees, they bring the old ones to me and sell them back. That way it doesn’t end up in the trash and they get some value out of it. “
Meanwhile, XiRepair has seen its activity increase during the pandemic, as people deal with changes in their way of life and work.
“We have tons of students (from Montgomery Public Schools) and MPS teachers bringing us Chromebooks to fix screens,” Strange said. “We had tons of kids at home who brought their cell phones or laptops for repairs. … They need it because of school or because that’s how they work now.
Since moving to a freestanding building in 2018, they’ve gone from being an employee to 11 years old. Many of these employees are also MPS graduates, including their 20-year-old regional manager.
Strange has said he wants to hire up to five more in the next few months, if they can. “It’s a bad time to really need people,” he said.
XiRepair is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. You can see more at XiRepair.com or SpikePhones.com.