Markevis Gideon knows you can’t stand Geek Squad. He used to work for Best Buy’s ubiquitous tech-support arm, known for its black-and-white
Beetles Priuses and its never-ending turnaround times.
But he also knows Geek Squad got a couple of things right, including that eye-catching branding on wheels and a business model intended to dominate consumer tech services, not just compete.
“I searched computer repair in Wilmington and found 63 potential competitors,” he said. But the vast majority were simply unknowns — independent contractors with no branding or name recognition. The closest thing to a Geek Squad alternative in Wilmington was Computer Renaissance, and that’s been closed for years now.
“I’m not looking to compete with the other repair companies,” the founder of NERDiT NOW said, “I’m looking to dominate.”
Gideon, who graduated from Howard High School and Widener University, already had the skills. He can repair most devices within 48 hours, an unheard of turnaround for Geek Squad, who are known for keeping devices for weeks or even months.
“A phone repair is 20 minutes,” he said. “That’s allowing for some wait time. It takes me 12 minutes to open it up, repair it, and close it back up.”
But it would take more than that to gain loyal customers. While trying to work out a brand, he found an ambulance from 1986. It didn’t run, even after attempting repairs. It sat there like a giant paperweight, but it had sparked the idea for NERDiT NOW’s branding — its version of the black-and-white Beetle.
Gideon now has two more ambulances, one modern and a vintage one that resembles the Ghostbusters car. Both were wrapped by the Bear auto graphics company GOTSHADEonline with the NERDiT NOW branding.
“I think of them as tech ‘food trucks,” said Gideon. “Eventually, I want to take the truck to a something like an office park so people can come up on their lunch break for quick repairs.”
For now, the trucks’ purpose is getting from A to B — and catching attention.
“Every time I drive the ambulance out to a job, I get at least two or three calls that day,” Gideon said.
Even parked, it’s memorable. Gideon talks about a house call he made that caught the attention of a neighbor initially concerned by the sight of an ambulance in the driveway. A few weeks later, the same neighbor called NERDiT NOW with a service request of their own.
At NERDiT NOW’s brick-and-mortar shop at 2308 Newport Pike — which was funded in part by its second-place Hen Hatch win in 2016 (NERDiT NOW CFO Jonathan Hoxter is a University of Delaware alum) — the vehicles serve as billboards to the many cars that pass daily. Inside, there are computer towers and laptops stacked wall-to-wall. Many of the devices he refurbishes and, as part of NERDiT NOW’s mission, are donated to schools and families in need.
That altruistic mission is a way of paying it forward.
“All of this started when a teacher gave me a computer when I was 12 years old,” Gideon said.