When Jesse DiLaura breaks his phone, he isn’t happy.
He knows firsthand that college students don’t enjoy cracking their phone screens.
“Our phones are a 10-minute source of joy at lunch or whenever,” said DiLaura, a 2016 entrepreneurism alumnus. “And when [phones] are broken, we can’t check Facebook or FaceTime our parents.”
DiLaura owns Repair U, a truck at 13th and Norris streets where he runs a phone repair service for college students. There was a grand opening ceremony on Wednesday.
Inside the small silver truck with the green Repair U logo, DiLaura and his eight employees, all Temple students, said they can fix the screen of any smartphone. DiLaura said his business offers a cheaper, quicker and more convenient alternative to phone repair.
“To be honest, I don’t even like fixing phones,” DiLaura said. “But what I like is fixing problems for students.”
For DiLaura, Repair U was a distant goal he slowly worked toward while he studied at Temple. He always wanted to run his own business, so he switched his major from risk management and insurance to entrepreneurship his junior year.
He said he found out quickly that he was meant to be an entrepreneur, and the courses he took allowed him to work on Repair U through projects and assignments geared toward starting and growing a business.
But when graduation came around, he found himself unsure whether he should go for it.
“It was hard to step away from the possibility of having a certain job as a risk management major,” DiLaura said. “But I bought the truck after graduation and here I am.”
One of DiLaura’s friends, Beau Rosario, owns Philamedia, a startup media production company. Rosario, DiLaura and two other students were roommates at Temple and took entrepreneurship classes together.
“We all bounced ideas off of one another and we certainly offered Jesse a lot of constructive criticism when he was working to start Repair U,” said Rosario, a 2014 film and media arts alumnus. “He took it really well though.”
Rosario said when DiLaura mentioned the idea of starting a business after graduation, Rosario and their other roommates were concerned it would be a difficult market to enter.
“We told him to do his homework and if he thought he could swing a profit, go for it,” Rosario said. “I am glad to see that his business is growing rapidly.”
DiLaura said Repair U’s truck location is the reason his services are cheaper and more convenient. He said if he did business in an actual building, he would have to pay an expensive monthly lease. But based out of a truck, he has fewer expenses and a yearly lease.
He added that he’s had 15 customers since opening, as of Saturday.
“It allows us to charge roughly $20 less to customers and allows me to hire more employees so that there is always someone at the truck,” DiLaura said.
He added that having a truck means he can do business right on Main Campus, which makes it more convenient for students. He said he and his employees can almost always fix a phone right on site, but if not, students can drop off their phones and get them fixed while they are in class.
“We are always trying to improve,” DiLaura said. “We try to interact with students through social media platforms and through our website to find out what students want out of a phone-repair business.”
“We have to make sure we are doing things right here,” DiLaura said. “But I think once we figure it out, we are going to open more trucks at different campuses.”
Patrick Bilow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.