Local Kent County resident Jake Voorhees is a self-described techno-geek who has definitely embraced his inner-nerd. And he’s very proud of it – with good cause! A few years ago, he joined a fellow nerd, Markevis Gideon, in a new business called NERDiT NOW which repairs cell phones and other electronic/computer items. In business now for four years, the company has grown rapidly. They have opened a shop in Wilmington and also have a high-tech repair van.
And now they will pitch their expansion plan to a panel of investors on the popular TV show Shark Tank. The episode will air this Sunday, Oct. 27, on ABC at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. After Sunday, you should be able to stream it online at ABC.com or on Hulu.com.
The Shark Tank appearance is a real coup for the Wilmington-based NERDiT NOW team, putting their business plan before not only the show’s panel of experts (the sharks!) but giving investors all over the country a look at the company’s product.
In a phone interview with the Chestertown Spy, Voorhees said the company’s plan is to set up a series of kiosks in parking lots around the city, with a mobile repair center in a re-purposed ambulance visiting each kiosk to pick up and service phones the customers have left for repair. Many phones, he said, can be repaired in as little as 15 minutes. NERDiT NOW can get most repairs back to the owner in four to six hours. Most can be fixed right in the ambulance, which has a complete repair shop inside.
NERDiT NOW repairs computers, tablets, and game consoles as well as phones. They also purchase and refurbish then resell old unwanted items. The store is located at 1614 W. Newport Pike in Wilmington, Delaware. For store hours and more details, visit the NERDiT NOW website.
Voorhees, a Kent County native and graduate of Kent County High School, attended the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in Civil Engineering in 2009. As luck would have it, he graduated just as the Great Recession and the accompanying housing crisis were in full swing. Still, he found work – first in Madison, Wisc., then in Chicago, and finally in Vancouver, Canada. There, he found himself getting involved in a sideline of drone videos – producing aerial videos of weddings, real estate, and other events. Then, two and a half years ago, he returned to the East Coast, where he connected with Gideon, who was looking for a partner for his company.
A Wilmington native, Gideon had gotten into computers at age 12 when a middle school teacher gave him an old computer to take home to experiment with. He went on to major in Computer Science at Widener College and spent five years in China working with computers – and running an American-style restaurant. He came home four years ago and started his own company in a spare room of his house. The company quickly caught on – and it’s grown to a quarter-million dollars in sales. The next step, if all goes well, is to expand – and possibly develop the business into a nationwide franchise, with kiosks and mobile repair centers in cities all across the country.
These two young entrepreneurs have a wider vision than just running a successful business. As Voorhees put it, they want to give back to the communities which have helped them so much. With that mission in mind, the NERDiT Foundation was started. Every year the foundation has donated over 100 refurbished computers to community centers and other nonprofits in under-served neighborhoods. They are committed to helping others as they also help the environment by repairing old and broken electronic items rather than having them end up in landfills. They want to do good not just well.
And now they have a chance to get a big boost for their plans from the Shark Tank competition. Will they win? Will they get the funding they need to take their business to the next level? Watch Shark Tank Sunday and find out! Keep your fingers crossed for the local boys to make good!