The NERDiT NOW idea that landed the startup on ‘Shark Tank’

The tech partners hope their digital lockers will become as common as Redbox (with more staying power). Their TV pitch airs Oct. 27.

Markevis Gideon and Jake Voorhees with the NERDiT Now box.

(Photo by Holly Quinn)

One thing NERDiT Now, the device repair startup founded by Markevis Gideon and Jonathan Hoxter in 2016, has always prioritized is fast, efficient service. Much of the company’s identity revolves around the ambulance: Early on, they started converting old ambulances into NERDiT Now-branded tech mobiles.

When Gideon and NERDiT Now partner Jake Voorhees decided to apply for the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” they quickly realized that a custom ambulance with a concession window (think: food truck) was going to be difficult to show, and therefore, impossible to pitch on the “Shark Tank” platform.

Inspired by the digital lockers that are ubiquitous in China, where Gideon spent two years before starting the business, the two came up with another element to the mobile repair service that could be more easily demonstrated in a TV studio: a digital locker that allows customers to drop off a device in need of repair, and, in many cases, have it returned to the locker for pickup the same day.

The NERDiT NOW ambulance.

The NERDiT NOW ambulance.

A small team of techs will pick up the devices and repair them, often right in the NERDiT NOW mobile, while it makes stops at other locations. Locations may include colleges, coworking spaces and places like Wal-Mart, similar to a Redbox or MinuteKEY.

Basic services include smartphone screen repairs, virus removal and diagnostics; if you drop off your device by 11 a.m., you’ll receive a notification by 5 or 6 p.m. that it’s ready to be picked up.

Similar boxes have been have been used by other companies, with varied success.

“What they’re missing is the mobile part,” said Voorhees, “which is where the converted ambulances come in. You don’t need a brick and mortar to do the repairs.”

That was the basic 60-second pitch they made to a Shark Tank producer at an open call in Louisville, Kentucky, last April, at the International Business Brokers Convention. One minute, one judge.


They left feeling confident — the producer seemed to love the pitch. The 14-day window where startups were to receive the news if they’d made it to the show came and went, and they thought they hadn’t been selected after all.

But they were. “They waited until the last possible moment to tell us,” Gideon said.

The episode of “Shark Tank” when they pitch to the famous sharks will air at 9 p.m. on Oct. 27. Obviously, they’re under strict non-disclosure agreements and can’t even hint about how it went.

Either way, they’re looking forward, and hoping to turn the idea into a franchise opportunity, where franchisees are provided with their own NERDiT Now mobile and their own territories of about 10 boxes per vehicle.

Before the episode airs, Gideon and Voorhees have another big event involving the company’s nonprofit, The NERDiT Foundation: On Oct. 24, they will be donating their fifth computer lab, to TeenSHARP, located in the Community Education Building on French Street in Wilmington. The college access nonprofit will receive 35 computers, refurbished by NERDiT NOW, as well as ongoing tech support.

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