Technology Offers Entrepreneurs Opportunities

By Lindsey Adkison The Brunswick News, Ga.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A broken i-phone turned into a business opportunity for one Georgia entrepreneur who is finding the on-demand economy suits her style. The Brunswick News, Ga.

A few years back, Paula Dowlin was a contract worker in the nation's capital. But she found herself in a bit of a predicament when that agreement expired, essentially leaving her without a job.

"We were basically laid off after the contract ended. So I moved down here looking for work," she said.

Then an incident, one most would consider bad luck, actually opened the door of opportunity for her.

"My grandson had broken my cell phone and I was so mad," she said with a laugh. "But I knew someone who worked with iCracked here, not as a career but he repaired phones for friends and family."

iCracked, as the name suggests, is a worldwide company, started by two college students, offering repairs of Apple's popular iPhone, iPads and other similar devices. The technicians are basically independent contractors that travel to their clients' offices or homes. The repairs and payments are organized via the company's app.

The ease and convenience of the program certainly appealed to Dowlin, who was always something of a "Ms. Fix-It." She decided to give it a go, completing extensive training through the company's program.

"We have to do a lot of training, which most of it is video by our master technician," she said. "But since I signed on, I've repaired 900 phones. We use the screens made by the same company as Apple so they are very high quality but we also guarantee our work. My clients can always call me if they have any problems with them."

For Dowlin, her new venture is truly a career built by new technology. Without Apple and Samsung's ever-evolving line of products, she would never have had the option for a new career. It's something she certainly appreciates.

"I think it's a great opportunity, especially for women. It shows that we can do the same kinds of things that men can do. And it's going to keep coming and changing," she said. "The future is 'on demand' technology, I think. That's where everything is heading. People like that convenience. With this, all they have to do is set it up on the iCracked app and then I will be there in a few hours, fix it in 30-45 minutes and I'm done. It's the Uber of phones."

Speaking of Uber, it's another technology-based business that's found home in the Isles.

There are several Uber drivers, mainly catering to St. Simons Island and the tourists that it lures. But some also serve other areas of Glynn County, including Brunswick.

Cory Stowell is an Uber driver based on St. Simons Island and has been working with the company for the past nine months. But joining the firm took several steps -- first of all, an extensive background check.

"We drivers go through an extensive background check to make sure our passengers are safe. We cannot have more than three moving violations on a driving record and any crime -- whether a misdemeanor or felony, as well as a DUI regardless of how old -- automatically disqualifies you from being an Uber driver so people can feel very safe," he said.

From there, Stowell walked through the Uber app basics and policies.

Then he simply started logging on to pick up clients via the Uber app. As far as technology goes, it's everything when it comes to making extra income with Uber. That can be both a blessing and a curse at times, Stowell notes.

"When you want to work, simply push a button and go online, when you don't, don't push it. (Uber) is pretty savvy as far as app development and it works seamlessly with whatever GPS app you like -- Apple maps, Google, Waze and their own in app GPS although I prefer Waze," he said.

"The best thing about the technology is that the passenger can see where we are and how far away we are before they request and while we are en route so they know when to be ready -- all within the app. The fact that a ride is just a smart phone button press away -- typically less than 10 minutes away or less, makes people a lot more willing to take an Uber as opposed to driving under the influence."

He says it all works fairly seamlessly unless someone has had too much to drink and places the pickup pin in the wrong location or if GPS signals are incorrect.

"Technology, although miles ahead of where we were just a few years ago, still isn't perfect, which is why we are able to contact the customer via text or phone call through an anonymous number that protects both the driver and the passenger's privacy," he said.

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