Sean Gartland, an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science (SILS), is owner and founder of a business that has recently opened on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, NC. The business, a shop called iCan Fix It, opened for business in Northlake Mall in March 2010, but it moved to Franklin Street in October 2012.
“We are essentially a support company for all iProducts (all things Apple),” Gartland said of his business. “We do anything from screen replacements on devices to one-on-one tutorials with specific software to our newest service, full Small Business Consulting services to provide all of the small businesses in the Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh areas with support for setting up new products, repairing old ones, advising them on software or new Internet/communications systems to install, etc.”
In addition to these services, iCan Fix It offers a unique service for iPhone users.
“The most notable part of our business is our Custom Color Swap options for the iPhone (4/4S and now the iPhone 5) where we actually can replace the original glass front and back panels with custom coated colored glass panels (some with electroplating which adds a metallic gloss to the colored glass), and we currently offer over 1,000 total options to customize between different front, back and home buttons which is currently the largest selection of custom colors in the country for iPhone!” said Gartland.
Gartland says he has always been interested in Apple products, and he has been working with them throughout his time at the university. During his freshman year, he worked in an internship position with Apple Inc. as the UNC Apple campus representative. After working closely with UNC’s RAM Shop through this position, Gartland worked as a technician specialist and helped support student, faculty and staff Mac products. Meanwhile, Gartland also worked as a specialist at the Apple Store at Southpoint Mall.
“I saw the pricing guide that Apple has employed with all of their products across the board for repair and support,” said Gartland. “I knew that I had a unique opportunity to start a business providing the same level of quality and professionalism at a much more reasonable price for students at the University and the surrounding communities.”
Within a few months of developing the idea, Gartland opened iCan Fix It as a Retail Merchandising Unit, a type of specialty custom kiosk, in Northlake Mall. He is now located in a separate shop inside the bar The City on Franklin Street, directly across the street from the upper quad.
“The most enjoyable part of my business absolutely has to be the interactions and relationships I develop with my customers,” said Gartland. “I can't even tell you how many times we have customers come in with iPhones or other Apple products completely destroyed thinking there was no prayer of fixing them, and that they are going to have to spend hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars to get a replacement product. When we are able to take care of it for them and go that extra mile to completely change the whole look of their product like it's brand new again and that we do it for a fraction of the price, the reaction I see from my clients and the way they talk about the experiences with iCan Fix It are priceless to me.”
As his clientele increases and his business expands, Gartland, who is a senior at SILS concentrating on human-computer interaction and user interface design, is thankful for the knowledge he gained as a student at SILS.
“SILS has helped me to refine both my technical and business skills and has also provided me with the experience and background for understanding a variety of key topics in business ranging from social media to usability testing to digital marketing to Web development (which really helped me when it came time to design our new Web site, icanfixitrepairs.com),” he said. “I cannot say enough positive things about SILS and how it has helped prepare both myself and my company for the business world.”
“As far as plans after graduation, I have accepted a job offer to work full time as a User Experience designer for Credit Suisse in Raleigh (RTP) in their IT Department under their Global Product Services (GPS) team,” said Gartland. “I interned with them last summer in a different role and I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work for such a fantastic company in a role that I really enjoy and have a passion for. I have several possibilities for the business right now that I am contemplating. But one thing is for sure that I want iCan Fix It to continue on and I am exploring different avenues to have it sustain itself. "
iCan Fix It supports the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, UNC’s plan to help Carolina become a world leader in launching university-born ideas for the good of society.