The Path to Repair Unlimited: the saga of a new student-run business
Tucked away in the corner of student business, underneath the Gregg dorm, sits a newly opened student business with a bright-blue neon sign that reads “Repair Unlimited.” Sophomore King Creer, who’s on the pre-law track, brewed the idea of a tech repair shop in his first few months on WashU’s campus.
The business offers a long list of services and accessory products for phones, AirPods, and cables — from simple screen replacement and device inspection to battery swaps. Creer charges anywhere from $10 to $250 depending on the generation of the device.
In Creer’s junior year of high school, the pandemic led him to accept a part-time job to work at a device repair shop. “Working for the repair shop didn’t bring in much money, but it was something I enjoyed, and it kept me occupied,” he said.
It was there that he mastered the series of technical skills. Creer first started by observing how a phone is repaired, taken apart, and put back together. Soon after, he was able to take orders from clients and fix the devices himself.
“I was kind of thrown into hot water. Clients would come in, and [I’d] have to [do] it [correctly], right in front of them,” Creer said. The pressure and practice did not go to waste, however. In his senior year, he went freelance, driving to his clients and taking commissions first-hand. The part-time job experience also provided him with potential vendors for phone replacement parts, which came in handy when he decided to go solo.
The entrepreneur spark in him did not vanish with the end of high school. After King came to WashU, he researched the school’s Student Entrepreneurial Program (StEP), a program funded by the university that helps students become entrepreneurial leaders through supporting their small business development. He reached out to the director Jessica Weldon with his idea, and was soon linked with a graduate student at the university who mentors prospective student storefront owners like Creer.
The pitching process was not an easy one. “I had to prepare a 17-page business proposal plan that included everything from product summary to market research,” Creer explained. “It took an entire semester to put it up. It was me squeezing […] time [into my schedule] to finalize my business plan.”
All of the work Creer put in led to a final presentation in front of the StEP advisory board, where he had to explain and showcase his business plan in detail. He said the experience was “very intimidating,” but ultimately, his meticulous preparation paid off when he was offered a storefront.
Creer expressed his vision for his business: “Repairing devices is something unique to me, and this was something I wanted to bring to campus,” he said.
While Creer said he is unable to share specific information about business profits, he plans to invest back into the store in order to be able to expand it. Creer said he wants to first make the store profitable before bringing any partners into the business.
Creer is looking for student workers to join, whether they have experience or not. He says, “Since I started without [any] experience in the field, I [will] let [the staff] start off with easier tasks and let them watch repairs.”
During Creer’s interview with Student Life, sophomore Jeoffery Lien walked in and asked about the services that Repair Unlimited provides. Lien is part of Repair Unlimited’s next-door business, Student Technology Services. “We mainly deal with software repair, and it would be really cool if Repair Unlimited can handle the hardware of laptops,” he told Creer, who agreed with him.
“Expanding my business into laptops and iPads is definitely one of the things I want to do. I think it will just take me some more time to learn these [repairing] skills,” he said.
As a student on the pre-law track, Creer has a clear vision of what his future goals are. “I do not plan to do smartphone repairs as a full-time job. My dream is to someday own my own law firm,” he said. Creer sees the StEP program as a place to gain entrepreneurship experiences, where the skills he learns can be applied when he becomes a practicing attorney. Creer explains: “For me, this is just a stepping stone toward that path.”