Montgomery tech business expands under couple
Published 6:58 am Sunday, May 30, 2021
By the time Suraiya Begum was a teenager at LAMP High School, she was driving around town finding deals on used phones that she could repair and sell.
“I’m from a very, very poor family. I needed to financially support them,” she said. “It was either go to college and get a minimum wage job and struggle or start something on the side that will help me go a little bit further, go into the business world.”
At the same time, Robert E. Lee High School student Jonathan Strange was repairing phones for friends and, soon, for people across the city. He wasn’t old enough to drive so sometimes he’d walk to a restaurant to meet customers and repair their phones on site.
“I was very professional over the phone so they had no idea it was a 14-year-old kid on the other side of the phone,” Strange said. “And then when they pull up to get their $800 phone fixed, there’s me with my little backpack and all of my little tools.”
Now a couple, Begum and Strange, both 21, share business space at XiRepair in Montgomery. And that space is growing almost as fast as their ambition.
Strange started XiRepair as a teenager after seeing a need for consumer electronics repair services here, and he opened a small office in east Montgomery. But the demand quickly outgrew that spot and by 2018 he opened a standalone location at 10684B Chantilly Parkway, with Begum sharing space.
Now, they’ve opened a second location at 1625 Perry Hill Road near The Fresh Market, where they offer data recovery services, sell phones and fix everything from restaurant point-of-sale devices, to game consoles, to drones. “If it had a power cable, we could probably fix it,” Strange said.
Begum’s Spike Phones business has also set up inside the new location and expanded, buying used phones, inspecting circuit boards and certifying phones for consumer resale. “A lot of companies buy phones in bulk,” Begum said. “Once they buy their employees new phones, they bring their old ones to me and resell it. That way it doesn’t end up in the trash can and they get a little bit of value out of it.”
Meanwhile, XiRepair has seen business increase during the pandemic as people deal with changes to how they live and work.
“We have tons of (Montgomery Public Schools) students and MPS teachers that are bringing in Chromebooks for us to fix the screens,” Strange said. “We’ve had tons of homeschoolers bringing in their cell phone or their laptop to get fixed. … They’re needing this because of school or because this is how they work now.”
Since moving to a standalone building in 2018 they’ve grown from one employee to 11. Many of those employees are also MPS graduates, including their 20-year-old regional manager.
Strange said they want to hire up to five more in the next few months, if they can. “It’s a bad time to be really needing people,” he said.
XiRepair is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. You can see more at XiRepair.com or SpikePhones.com.