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Student creates affordable iPhone repair service

<p>Thomas Piccirello, a School of Engineering sophomore, has created a business fixing iPhones for students.</p>

Thomas Piccirello, a School of Engineering sophomore, has created a business fixing iPhones for students.

For iPhone users at Rutgers who turn to mall booths or Apple Stores for repairs, School of Engineering sophomore Thomas Piccirello is offering a more affordable alternative.

Last January, Piccirello started Rutgers Repair, a service catered specifically to fixing iPhones for Rutgers students.

He said the idea for the business came from a very simple thought.

“I thought ‘what am I good at? I’m good at fixing iPhones,’” he said. “So why not start an iPhone repair business at Rutgers?”

Piccirello, who plans to switch his major to computer science, worked for Rutgers Residential Networking, and at the time, sought a way to supplement his income.

IPhone customers everywhere experience technical problems with the ubiquitous mobile device. These problems range from faulty jacks and buttons to the so-called spider web-cracked screen. He said the latter is the most popular repair.

Piccirello aims to give students a cheaper and more convenient option for iPhone repairs.

“The cost of repair for the iPhone 4 or 4s is $65, [for] the iPhone 5 it is a bit more,” he said. “Compared to Apple, there’s no question [that it is a good price]. They’re charging upwards of $150.”

Even if smaller stores offer more competitive prices, Piccirello said his service has a personal feel that most stores lack.

Kasia Kalemba, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, approached Piccirello for multiple repairs.

“I would always drop my phone or soak it in water,” she said. “[Piccirello] was phenomenal, he always contacted me back right away. One time I was in the library studying for finals, and I couldn’t pick up my phone, so he actually dropped it off for me.”

Martin Cordova, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, was also thankful for Piccirello’s willingness to go the extra mile.

He initially had the back of his phone replaced, but found the camera had stopped working.

“I asked him about it, he fixed it and showed me it was just a little piece of tape stuck on it. He was just completely cool about making sure it worked fine,” he said.

Piccirello said while business has been steady and should increase throughout the semester, he has no plans to expand in the near future.

“If it were to get busy, I have a good friend of mine that also fixes iPhones, and maybe I’d consider it, but as of right now, it’s just a solo business,” he said.

Fixing iPhones was just a natural progression from him fixing iPods as a teen, he said.

“I wanted an iPhone, but there was no way I was paying for the data just to have one,” he said. “So it was either ‘I’ll buy a broken one, and I’ll fix it’, or I had a family friend who was like ‘I have a broken iPhone, can you help me?’

In a word of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs on campus, Piccirello said word of mouth is often more effective than traditional advertising, especially at Rutgers.

He said he has a referral section on his website.

“A vast majority was like ‘I heard it from my friend here,’” Piccirello said. “So at a place like Rutgers, it’s really surprising, but word of mouth is huge.”

In addition to Rutgers Repair, his job at Student Residential Networking and taking 17 credits this semester, he created and maintains two other services. One, RU++ is a free file-sharing hub, and the other, newbrunswickparking.com, is a crowd-sourced database of alternate side parking times in New Brunswick.

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