Experimac, the Apple resale, repair franchise appeals to two best friends

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Jeff Pradhan hails from an entrepreneurial family and always thought it would be great to go into business one day with his best friend.
He and Gabe Miccio grew up together in Aquia Harbour, rode the same bus to school and played sports on the same teams. They went their separate ways after graduation, but always kept in touch.
Fast-forward half a lifetime, and the two 35-year-olds have finally found a way to own a business together. They opened an Experimac franchise""which buys, sells, trades and repairs used Apple products and accessories""in late March at 1865-106 Carl D. Silver Parkway in Fredericksburg's Central Park. The grand opening will be June 13.
"We call ourselves the local Apple experts in Fredericksburg," said Pradhan, who has had a diverse career in the defense, civil, nonprofit and commercial sectors.
Customers have included college students who've had mishaps, such as spilling water on their laptops. Miccio and Pradhan, who've earned iFixit MasterTech Certification, were able to do the necessary repairs in a day because they have Apple parts in stock. The work comes with a 90-day guarantee.
They were also able to help an elderly man and his wife who'd been told by another retailer that their iPad wasn't repairable and he needed to buy a new one. Miccio and Pradhan were able to reset the iPad and restore passwords.
"We saved him hundreds of dollars from having to buy something new," Pradhan said. "They gave us a nice review online."
The new store's most frequent request, however, comes from customers who want to trade in their desktop computer for a laptop, but don't want to pay full price for a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. Miccio and Pradhan will buy their desktop, even if it no longer works, and sell them a used MacBook for 20 to 60 percent less than a new one. They also offer a one-year guarantee and provide financing.
Pradhan said one reason he and Miccio were attracted to Experimac is that people are increasingly willing to buy used products. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that the market for used smartphones, for example, will grow from 81.3 million devices in 2015 to 222.6 million units in 2020. That's a compound annual growth rate of 22.3 percent.
The trend is disrupting sales of new products just like the gig economy, which is based on temporary labor, is changing the nature of employment, Pradhan said.
He and Miccio also like Experimac's focus on Apple products.
"Apple products hold their value," said Miccio, whose specialty was transforming under-performing Best Buy stores. "They've held the bar that, 'We're only going to make premium products' "
He said that the average Apple customer holds on to their Apple device for seven years compared to five for other brands. And Apple supports its products for 10 years, while its competitors' products are typically designed to be obsolete in three.
Specializing in Apple also means that the business partners only have to know how to repair and keep inventory for one brand's product line. Plus, there's no Apple store in the Fredericksburg area, although it's made The Free Lance-Star's annual Wish List of businesses readers would like to see open in the region.
"This really is trying to meet that need," Pradhan said.
Pradhan discovered Experimac while talking to commercial real estate brokers about businesses that might be interested in renting space in a strip shopping center his family was building in Glen Allen. The more questions he asked about the company, the more he liked what he heard.
Company founder Jim Muir turned his hobby of buying, selling, trading and repairing Apple computer equipment out of his garage into a business. He opened his first store in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 2009, expanded and began selling franchises in 2014.
Experimac now has more than 100 locations with 25-30 additional stores in various stages of development. It plans to have a total of 200 locations nationwide by the end of 2017.
Pradhan said he was looking for a new business venture with a good concept, and thought that the company offered a chance for him and Miccio to blend their complimentary skills. His is in marketing and Miccio's is in customer service.
The two friends attended one of the company's Discovery Days to learn more about Experimac, bought a franchise and spent two weeks training at corporate headquarters in West Palm Beach. They got three more weeks of one-on-one training at their store, which has a sleek design and color scheme similar to an Apple store.
"I wanted to see if there's anything outside of Best Buy," said Miccio. "Doing this together, I knew it was an opportunity to give it a shot. I couldn't sit on the sidelines and wonder, 'What if?' We had to jump in."

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