It all started back in 2012…Leo had purchased an office/retail building in Sequoyah Hills years before. One of his tenants moved out and he was looking for a solid replacement. He surveyed the neighbors to see what they would like to see in the building. Of course, everyone wanted a grocery store (not going to happen). Also at the top of the list was a nail salon, hair salon, and…someone asked if an Apple Store was an option…or…a tech support company. This was interesting since Leo had been working on a model to provide technical support to residential users for about a year inside Entrepreneurs of Knoxville. He had been pitching the idea as Sequoyah Hills Information Technologies!
Leo LOVES solving problems, building businesses, and making money. So, he started asking questions. Why don’t you like the current solutions (Geek Squad, Fire Dog, or any of the 300+ IT companies in Knoxville)? What are you looking for? What would you pay? Is there a way to improve on the existing solutions? Is there an opportunity? Is there a way to make money?
Here’s what Leo learned…
- Technology is built by Techy people for other Techy people…NOT normal people.
- All providers are SELLING a product or service…they make it fit the end user
- Normal people are capable of figuring technology out but they would prefer it just worked
- What’s missing is a relationship…a knowledge of the end-user – their goals, dreams, desires, needs.
- Most people are willing to invest in services to free their time, minds, etc. – we pay someone to mow our grass, clean our house, maintain our cars, manage our money, compute our taxes…managing our technology is just another version of these.
The Neighborhood Nerds Way…
The solution was simple though not obvious. We had to think about things completely differently and get outside the box. It’s more challenging than you think. There are hundreds of thousands of technology providers across the US all doing business the same way they have for decades. We are changing EVERYTHING and just expect it to work…well, we are entrepreneurs…
- Know the member – Perform an audit to gather information about the member, their technology, their goals, dreams, frustrations, etc.
- Build a Member Profile with contact info, directions, parking, likes/dislikes, normal technology, weird technology, names of dogs/cats/pets, preferences of how to be treated, preferences for engagement, etc.
- Build Member Manual entries for everything in the Member’s life
- Label EVERYTHING. Why do we expect a “normal person” to know which device is a Modem or a Router or a Switch or a ??? We don’t. We label them and their cables.
- We don’t know what we don’t know – It’s hard to ask for help if you don’t know what you’re talking about or anything about it. So, we believe we have to be proactive in the Member’s life and tell them what solutions are available.
- Make an impact quickly – After creating a prioritized list of stuff we need to address, we fix the highest priority items quickly. We also look for ways to save money and reduce frustration immediately. We negotiate better deals for internet, phone, tv, etc. We Make devices perform better and faster. We simplify every chance we get! Many times we’re removing technology not adding to it.
- We also set the Member up for success and protect them as much as possible. Then, we prepare for the worst…NO ONE can prevent all issues. So, we prepare for and plan to recover as quickly as possible.
- Our staff is designed to be proactive, engaging, empathetic, caring, informative, and educational. We use systems, processes, standards, and many tools to select the best staff possible and empower them to serve the Members. Our Nerds are designed to provide care to our Members.
- Educate, Inform, Empower – we don’t believe in job security. We are trying to work ourselves out of a job every day! Every Nerd is constantly looking for opportunities to make our Member’s lives better through the use of technology. We don’t want technology to be an obstacle.
- Be prepared to serve, support, respond – Our Nerds study our Members and their technology. They are also in a continuous mode of learning about new and better technology so they can provide solutions quickly and easily. After our Nerds document the technology in use by a Member, they are all experts on it and any of them can support it and provide care.
- Wash, Rinse, Repeat – So, after the audit and fixing a few issues, everything in the Member’s life is easy sailing…right?!? No, we must constantly be involved in the Member’s life…from now on. Technology is forever changing and we will always be needed. This is why we use the Membership model. That monthly fee funds the efforts of the Nerds to Know, Support, Educate, and Inform our Members today and always. Basically, our Members are time-sharing Nerds.
From the beginning, the idea has been to help as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Since it takes around $350,000 to start a shop, Leo has decided franchising is the best way to quickly expand across the US and around the globe. So, we’ve been working VERY hard to build systems, processes, standards, brand, and more. It’s much more challenging than you’d think. So, if you’re interested in a franchise, click on the INVESTORS menu to setup some time with Leo to get an update and learn what’s next.
Meet the Nerds…
Leo Knight – Papa Nerd (Founder and CEO)
Favorite current tech devices – Samsung S7, Samsung Note Tablet, MBA
Favorite retro tech device/game – PalmPre with WebOS was THE BEST!
Hobbies/Fun Facts – I enjoy Hiking, Photography, Hunting, Boating, Fishing, & Programming.
Community Involvement – Elder at SHPC, Rotarian, Founder EOK, President ACG.
Clif Goodgame – Head Nerd
Favorite current tech devices – Apple AirPods
Favorite retro tech device/game – I have a collection of old computers but Music is a big part of my life so my favorite “Retro Tech” would have to be my turntables. They play a thing called records.
Hobbies/Fun Facts -I Run, Ski, Scuba Dive, Sky Dive, Fly, and Sail. Yes they are all done “Outside”
Community Involvement – First Robotics
Matt Tunstall – Marketing Nerd
Education/Major – Bachelors in Communication, University of Tennessee
Preferred OS – iOS / Linux
Hobbies/Interests – Playing Pool, Kayaking, Hiking, Camping, Swimming, and Playing Baseball
Ethan Grissom – Member Support Nerd / Software Developer
Education/Major – Sophomore at UTK studying Computer Science
Preferred OS – Android and Windows
Hobbies/Interests – Running, Mountain Biking, Video Games and Keeping up with current Technology News
Stephanie Yeap – Member Support Nerd
Favorite Current Tech Device – Amazon Echo
Favorite Retro Tech Device/Game – Nintendo 64
Hobbies & Fun Facts – I enjoy traveling. I’ve been to 30 countries and 3 “Eiffel Towers”.
Community Involvement – I’m a student at UTK and have been on the executive team of two fundraising events to benefit local charities.
Cody Stiner – Member Support Nerd
Education/Major – Graduated from ETSU in Political Science and Computer Science
Preferred OS – Android/iOS and Windows
Hobbies/Interests – Gaming, Comics, Politics, and Sports
William Thomas – Member Support Nerd
Education/Major – Graduated from Tennessee Tech in Computer Programming and Cyber Security
Preferred OS – Android and Windows
Hobbies/Interests – Competitive Archery and Target/Skeet Shooting
Andrew Gillenwaters – Member Support Nerd
Education/Major – Sophomore at Tennessee Tech studying Music Education
Preferred OS – iOS and Windows
Hobbies/Interests – Marching Band, Drum line, Competitive Ultimate Frisbee, and Sports
Richard Martin – Member Support Nerd / Software Developer
Education/Major – Sophomore at ETSU studying Computer Science
Preferred OS – iOS and MacOS
Hobbies/Interests – Computers, Outdoor Activities, and Sports
Kristen Winters – Member Care Nerd
Education/Major – Graduated from UTK with a BA in French language and Literature
Preferred OS – Windows
Hobbies/Interests – Scrabble, Snowboarding, Singing, Volunteering, Rock Climbing, Reading, and History