If your car breaks down, your first stop is likely to be a mechanic. And odds are, unless your car is in very bad shape, that mechanic will be able to fix it. So why is it that customers are so often told to replace broken computers, tablets, and smart phones rather than fix them?
Ryan Passarelli, a former mobile app developer, has seen plenty of perfectly good computers bite the dust over the years because of repair services that were too quick to give up on busted machines. That’s why he and a childhood friend, IT specialist Chris Amatangelo (shown in photo), have started their own computer repair service, called Alt Tab Tech, in Montgomery. The business is currently based out of Passarelli’s garage, but Passarelli is eyeing locations on Vreeland Drive or Wall Street in Research Park for an August move-in.
Passarelli hopes his business will be able to set itself apart from its competitors by offering good repair rates and free diagnosis. Many services charge a “bench fee” just to look at a device to see what the problem is, but Alt-Tab does that for free, and charges $75 an hour for repairs. He says many problems, from broken cameras to cracked screens to damaged USB ports, can be fixed for around $100 after parts and labor.
Passarelli says that he wants Alt Tab to be known as an honest repair service. “That’s why we started up,” he says. “It’s like in the car repair industry where if you don’t know what you’re doing, you are going to get jerked around.”
Passarelli, 29, grew up in Montgomery, where his mother is a UPS driver. He graduated from Rider with a finance degree. He got a job at BCG Valuations, a finance company based on Main Street in Pennington, with hopes of becoming a stockbroker or hedge fund manager. But after three years of mostly writing reports and doing very little trading, Passarelli decided to switch industries and become a tech entrepreneur.
He worked for Promoverse, a Nassau Street-based startup company, and help develop the Promoverse mobile app that helps local businesses advertise coupons, events, and specials to local customers on mobile devices. After Promoverse was sold to an investor, Passarelli went on to work at another startup, Uber Motif, as director of search engine marketing. He left that company after a year to found Alt-Tab Tech.
Passarelli is handling the business end of Alt-Tab, while his partner does the actual computer repairs. Amatangelo is a certified computer repair tech who formerly managed the IT department and network at AmesWalker International in Hillsborough.
Passarelli says the new company aims to give back to the community. First, it is offering free computer classes for its customers. Secondly, it is offering free service to disabled children, and also offers discounts for students, military members, and employees of Montgomery Township.
Speaking via an iPhone with a cracked screen, Passarelli says smart phones and tablets are often fixable even when it looks like they are ready for the trash can. “I had the Otterbox [hard case] off my phone, it fell out of my hand, and the screen cracked,” he says. “My partner is going to fix that for me today. Thank God, because otherwise, I’d be down at Best Buy spending another 400 bucks on a Galaxy S3.”
Alt Tab Tech, 609-638-4146; Ryan Passarelli, co-founder. www.alttabtech.com.