Fixt Puts the Fix on Technology
Luke Cooper first turned his interest and attention to technology at 12 years old.
Living in a single parent household in Bridgeport, Conn., he found solace in it, actually.
But it was a National Foundation for Teaching entrepreneurship program that put him on his path. The program taught all aspects of entrepreneurship – how to start and grow a business, successfully operate a company and marketing.
Interested in space as a youth, Cooper developed an idea that utilized solar energy to provide power to microwave ovens.
“It gave me a healthy self-esteem developed by inventing something and marketing it in a new way,” says Cooper. “It actually worked and made money.”
Today, Cooper reflects back, acknowledging this experience directed him on the right path academically and helped him realize his love for science “wouldn’t be enough.”
A basketball scholarship to St. Joseph Prep in Trumbull, Conn., led to a basketball scholarship to Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y.
“Each stage of my life (provided) a crushing reality that it was just a stage,” he says. “I was meant to do something with that stage that would leverage me into something more meaningful.”
Syracuse Law School was another “stage” that led to employment in a Baltimore law firm and later as counsel for State Farm Insurance. But the work “wasn’t exciting. I felt like I was missing out.”
On the side, he continued with small entrepreneurial projects, buying and selling companies and investing.
In 2008, he became part of the early management team for technology company Caldwell Technology Systems. Eighteen months later, after becoming a leader in cybersecurity information assurance systems, the firm sold. The seed had been planted.
“It was an amazing experience,” says Cooper. “This is what I wanted to do over and over – building organizations and teams wed to a tight-knit vision.”
Before starting his own company, he needed more experience. He enrolled in the MBA program at Babson College in Boston, Mass., to build a skill-set combining entrepreneurship, innovation, team building and finance to enable him to grow a business with as little capital as possible. Cooper hoped to gain from Babson like other successful entrepreneurs, including the founders of Gerber Baby Foods and Home Depot.
Cooper returned to Baltimore and began toying with the idea of improving insurance claim processes for technology based on his time with the insurer. After a few years of concept development
and testing, securing venture capital and creating a sound management team along with cofounder and chief technology officer Chris Garvis, Cooper’s Fixt launched its first product in summer 2015.
Baltimore-based Fixt serves as the central connector of repair solutions for internet-connected devices. The service is simple, Cooper explains. Fixt provides businesses with an easy way for their employees to push a button and get mission-critical phones or tablets repaired or replaced within an hour. With just a click through its app, Fixt is notified of the problem and a technician is deployed to the office, a coffee shop, home or other specified location to repair the device.
Companies pay a base monthly fee for the mobile device management service and push the app to all employees’ phones, both company and personal devices. Fixt maintains security for all devices and the service is coordinated with the company’s IT department, if one exists.
Fixt sets out to save companies significantly. Historically, devices often are replaced without attempts at repairs. Yet most often through Fixt, devices are repaired, like new, and clients are billed nominally for those repairs, depending on the damage.
Clients all over the United States like Coca Cola, Stanford University, Brown Advisory and Johns Hopkins utilize Fixt, which operates in about 45 states at present, Cooper estimates.
The Johns Hopkins Medicine Technology Innovation Center has used the Fixt service for about a year as part of a pilot program, initially starting small as a way to provide insurance on phones and provide a service for employees.
“We all have smart phones and we break them often,” says Gorken Sevinc, managing director of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Technology Innovation Center. “It’s not the easiest to get the phone fixed and the work be quality.”
The pilot partnership with Fixt has grown to include a mobile device management system that maintains security, as employees access secure clinical data from their phones. Sevinc notes the arrangement is beneficial to the company and the employee. Company leaders know the devices will remain secure and employees appreciate access to repairs normally within a 30-minute window.
“It’s a very good model, it works,” says Sevinc, who praises the service providing a technician shortly after requesting the repair through the app. That’s a plus as compared to other vendors that can set the customer back an entire day, he says. “That’s as convenient as it gets. It doesn’t get any better than that. I sure hope they can scale out to other industries as well.”
Employees pay for the repairs, but the cost is discounted.
“They are going to pay anyway somewhere,” he says. “At least this is a convenient way and approved. We know the quality.”
Sevinc says he is a “big fan” of Fixt, and could see the service extended from his 40-person department out to all 50,000 Johns Hopkins employees in early 2017 as well as eventually offer it to university students as a pass-through service.
The Baltimore City Health Department is evaluating the feasibility of contracting Fixt for mobile device management services. Michael Fried, chief information officer, calls the Fixt service a “compelling product.”
“I have not heard of anything coupling device repair, account workflow and bundled simple device management,” says Fried. “The idea is great. Just the insurance piece and coming out quickly and repairing devices is fantastic. It’s never a convenient time to shatter the mobile device screen.”
With the city, Fried says, it’s an arduous process. The department is not currently repairing phones; they are replaced. The department “doesn’t stock spare phones.”
Investigating expenditures on device repairs and replacements has provided an opportunity to evaluate procedures and the possibility of layering in mobile device management is “hugely valuable for us.” Fried estimates the analysis will be completed soon and procurement for the contract to cover the department’s 260 mobile devices will take a few months.
Fixt’s 13-member staff, primarily engineers and operations experts, runs out of an office in Harbor East.
Long term, Cooper aims to extend to other industries as Sevinc notes, providing background maintenance for all connected devices, not just phones and tablets. Appliances and point of sale devices in restaurants are just two examples but with technology becoming a part of most daily use items, the opportunities are endless. I95