Jonathan Strange owns a couple of tech companies, has customers in San Francisco and Chicago. He runs a store in the Eastchase shopping district and just finished a project in Georgia.
Next up: Graduating high school in Montgomery.
He was in class when the phone rang Wednesday with a question about his cell phone repair business. “My teachers are sort of used to me answering the phone,” Strange said. Strange dove into the tech world when putting together a custom gaming computer as an eighth-grader. By the time he was a freshman at Robert E. Lee High School, he was repairing phones for classmates, teachers, family, and friends.
The word got out, and before long people from all over the city were contacting him. He launched a business at 15 and set up the online presence.
At 16, he hired his uncle.
“He’s already living a 25-year-old’s life,” Nathan MacKenzie said about his nephew. “I try to keep him humble.”
MacKenzie watched the teenager’s business start to take off over the past few years. His uncle had a tech background and could see that his nephew needed to expand. “I said, ‘Hey man, want some help?’” MacKenzie said. “It’s been pretty fun.”
While Strange is in class, he manages his nephew’s Eastchase firm, XiRepair. They may be used on phones, computers, televisions, video games, or “pretty much anything with a power connector,” according to Strange.
Strange started XiRepair as a teenager after spotting a need for consumer electronics repair in Montgomery and building a small business there. Demand quickly outgrew that location, so he opened a stand-alone store at 10684B Chantilly Parkway in 2018, which he shared with Begum.
Meanwhile, Montgomery Advertiser Strange has turned his past experiences into SEOJ, a firm that specializes in website design, logo design, and search engine optimization for clients all around the country. The concepts were “inspired on my struggles as a full-time business owner,” according to Strange.
He’s already a member of the Alabama Business Council and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, and his Eastchase store will have a ribbon cutting next week.
He recently switched to Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School and intends to graduate next month. He’ll graduate with more than a dozen industry qualifications when he does. Then it’s on to Auburn University, where he’ll begin as a sophomore as a result of the dual enrollment programs he’s been participating in.
There are more ambitious initiatives in the works. “In the near future, I hope to turn XiRepair into a chain repair business with numerous locations around Central Alabama,” Strange stated.
But don’t expect to see him on Friday nights. On weekends, he works as a part-time DJ.
Begum’s Spike Phones has also moved into the new premises and enlarged its business, which now buys secondhand phones, inspects circuit boards, and certifies them for customer resale. “Many businesses buy phones in bulk,” Begum explained. “When they buy new phones for their staff, they bring their old phones to me and resale them.” That way, it won’t end up in the trash, and they’ll get something out of it.”
They’ve now launched a second site at The Fresh Market at 1625 Perry Hill Road, where they offer data recovery, sell phones, and repair everything from restaurant point-of-sale equipment to game consoles to drones. “We could definitely fix it if it had a power line,” Strange added.
Meanwhile, as people adjust to new ways of life and work, XiRepair has seen an increase in business since the outbreak.
If they can, Strange said they aim to hire up to five additional people in the next few months. “It’s a dreadful time to be in desperate need of help,” he remarked.
XiRepair is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. 10 a.m. Monday through Friday until 6 p.m. Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. More information is available at XiRepair.com and SpikePhones.com.