Spotlight on South African entrepreneurs: Alex Fourie
Last month saw us take a look at the achievements of media mogul, Bheki Kunene, the first in a series that will showcase some of South Africa’s most promising, young entrepreneurial talent. This month, we get up close and personal with the specialist repair service that is iFix, and its intrepid founder and CEO, Alex Fourie.
From a dorm room to stores across South Africa, iFix has been making waves in the world of technology since it arrived on the scene, with Fourie being the formidable driving force behind the brand. Join us as we take a closer look at this proudly South African service.
It all started back in 2006, when Fourie’s iPod broke. He was told by traditional repair channels that it couldn’t be fixed and that he would have to purchase a new one. Unwilling to accept this, Fourie decided to order the part he needed on eBay and then proceeded to watch YouTube instructional videos that guided him in his repair – all from the comfort of his dorm room at the University of Stellenbosch. After successfully fixing his iPod, word soon spread throughout the university and before he knew it, Fourie had person after person coming to him to fix their similarly broken Apple devices. After taking out at advert in a Cape Town newspaper, and receiving 15 calls on the first day, Fourie knew that he had found a gap in the market and there was indeed a brilliant business idea here.
Building a business
The next few years saw the official birth and growth of iFix as it built up its clientele, employed permanent staff and technicians, and opened walk-in stores across the country. Before establishing the stores, iFix worked on a “drop off system” that operated out of Mabu Vinyl in Gardens, Cape Town. In 2010, the first walk-in store opened its doors and that same year, iFix celebrated its 10 000th Apple device repair. Since then, many more stores have been opened up throughout South Africa, including Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria, and there’s even an express kiosk at the V&A Waterfront. With the help of venture capitalists and influential partners (namely Dion Wired, Incredible Connection and Let Me Repair), iFix has continued to expand and position itself as a leader in the repair of both Apple and Samsung devices.
Apart from being a specialist repair service, iFix is also affiliated with other brands, namely Houdt, an exclusive accessory line specialising in stylish wooden device casings and other mobile accessories, as well as RiCharge, which offers mobile charging stations. RiCharge is now available in 12 countries across Africa, an impressive feat in such a short space of time. iSureFix offers a protection plan for Apple products, while uFix is a DIY Apple repair kit that allows you to perform certain repairs yourself.
With a staff of roughly 125 and boasting approximately 10 000 repairs a month, Fourie and iFix are definitely on the up and up. More stores are set to open in the future as demand continues to increase. Amazingly, about 75% of the work that comes iFix’s way is in fact word-of-mouth, proving that the best kind of marketing a business can have is that which is provided but its very own customers. Fourie continues to show his fiery entrepreneurial spirit as his business thrives year after year, and his “just do it” approach is certainly one that inspires. Having been named one of the 30 most promising entrepreneurs under 30 in Africa in 2014, this savvy entrepreneur is undoubtedly destined for further greatness.
We’ll leave you aspiring entrepreneurs with some valuable advice from this impressive mover and shaker: “Never give up. I’ve never had any backing from the corporate world and we just keep on doing what we’re doing. If you believe enough in yourself nothing can stop you.”
Featured image: http://www.youthvillage.co.za