After six years at the electronics giant, Tahero Nori will start out on his own. Nori will seek to resolve his former employer’s tech support issues.
Breakit has previously reported on the efforts of Tahero Nori, head of innovation at Media Markt, to make the electronics giant more startup focused. This past year, among other things, he has introduced Flic smart buttons and the bluetooth in-ear plugs Earin into Media Markt’s product range.
In recent years, he has also been working in parallel to develop his own company. Now, Mr. Nori is taking the plunge and entering the startup world on his own.
Earlier this week, he launched Techbuddy, a firm providing technical advice and customer service to consumers, both over the phone and via house calls.
“We want to guide and inspire consumers, in addition to installing tech products for the customer. We offer installation and support for existing electronic products, as well as support before making purchase. We make recommendations based on your personal tech skills and needs,” said Mr. Nori.
Consultations can take place directly in the company’s app, where there are already 320 featured products. You can get free help with common problems, such as phone or computer failures. If online help isn’t enough, a “tech buddy” is sent to the customer’s home. The house calls and telephone support will be the company’s primary source of revenue.
“We want to make tech services as affordable as possible. Today, our competitors charge between 1,000 and 2,500 krona per house call,” said Nori. “We believe it shouldn’t be so expensive, so we charge 699 krona per visit.”
Techbuddy differentiates itself from traditional customer support by using a model somewhat reminiscent of Uber. Instead of having a bunch of employees at a call center, Techbuddy relies on freelancers who work as needed.
“Today, there are many technologically savvy people. I myself have been a ‘tech buddy’ for the past few years,” said Mr. Nori. “We will interview and train each individual tech buddy. To continually keep our buddies up-to-date, we have partnered with Knowly to use their training platform.”
Nori says that the company has also entered into a partnership with the billing firm Cool Company to ensure that freelancers pay taxes and VAT.
With the launch of Techbuddy earlier this week, Nori establish an important, but perhaps not surprising, partnership with his former employer. In some Media Markt stores, Techbuddy will offer additional services, with the retailer taking a share of revenue.
Mr. Nori is confident Techbuddy will increase customer satisfaction for the whole industry. “The major benefit is that we offer independent, local support, with an expert visiting the customer’s home to help install the product. Normally, you do not know how satisfied the customer is until they call customer support to complain.”
Is Media Markt sacrificing a major part of the customer relationship by allowing Techbuddy to manage everything after the product is sold? “I rather think that Media Markt will gain from this partnership. You have already lost when you think, this is my customer, and no one else’s,” said Mr. Nori. “I don’t think there is any industry more complex than consumer electronics. It benefits Media Markt to let an independent company help with tech support.”
Techbuddy’s plans are not limited simply to tech support. The long term goal is to focus the entire industry towards consumers by creating a system of quality standards for all consumer electronics.
“The idea actually began four years ago when I visited some of the factories that manufactured products we considered offering at Media Markt,” shared Mr. Nori. “I saw that something was not right. Production today is irresponsible, as is consumption. As manufacturers are competing to constantly lower prices, one must simply accept the fact that their is no sustainability.”
In the future, Techbuddy plans to offer a database of products with labels for goods produced with environmentally friendly and ethical practices. There will also be specifications on the support the customer can access if the product fails.
Initially, the company is launching telephone support throughout Sweden and house calls in Stockholm. Tahero Nori is planning extensive expansion over the next few years. David Ovsepian will serve as president and head of Swedish operations, while Mr. Nori will focus on building partnerships and global expansion.
“We are looking at the Nordic countries, as well as Berlin, London and Vienna. We have a list of 15 cities where we hope to expand to over the next 18 months,” said Tahero Nori.
So far, Mr. Nori has financed the company and development of the app himself. The company is in talks with potential investors, with the goal of making Techbuddy available in all major European cities within two years. Mr. Nori would not comment on how much capital is required to reach that goal.
“What I can say, is that we have a fairly accurate estimate,” shared Mr. Nori. “We have calculated everything backwards and forwards, and I think we’ve found the recipe. We will be very ‘asset light’ (to avoid tying up capital in fixed assets – ed.) and have significant costs.”