Upgraded IT – Small Business Spotlight
Tom Blackburn is the latest guest for #SmallBusinessSpotlight.
Tom explains the variety of problems that Upgraded IT can fix. He shares his controversial idea. And reveals how technology can be tamed with a penny and black tape!
Please introduce yourself and your business.
I’m Tom Blackburn and I run Upgraded IT. We repair and support IT for businesses and domestic customers.
Based in Milnsbridge, we also create custom PC builds for business, personal or gaming use.
So whether it’s a smashed Ipad screen, a faulty mobile or proactive monitoring of your laptop – we can help.
Why did you start your business?
I began working for a number of technology companies when I left College with my City and Guilds in Electrical Service.
Initially, I worked with barcode scanners on a production line. After that, I worked on telecoms installations and broadband web designs.
Up until this point I focused on hardware so I then chose to develop my software skills and become a Certified Windows Engineer.
I set up a company to do it for myself – to fix and service both software and hardware. That was about 8 years ago.
My original workshop was the basement of my house. About 4 years ago I opened my first shop in Milnsbridge. Last September we moved to our new location here in Morley Lane, Milnsbridge.
Bekki Jacobs joined earlier this year and focuses on marketing for the business.
How does your business stand out from the competition?
We provide a quality service, fast turnaround time and a warranty.
We offer free advice and diagnosis. If we can’t fix it, there’s no charge.
Mobile phones are so important to customers that nobody wants to be without their mobile phone for more than half a day.
That’s why if we know you’re coming in and have the parts we can turn around your phone in one hour. Plus, you’ll get a 12 month warranty. This gives customers peace of mind.
What do you enjoy most about your business?
I love the constant changes both with software and hardware. It’s like playing with new toys!
Fixing things and seeing them work. That’s the part of the business I always enjoy.
What I love most is fixing the unusual problems or the ones that other experts have been unable to solve.
How do you promote your business online and how effective is it?
We use Facebook a lot – especially Facebook groups to do online networking. It’s a great way to build links with companies, charities and community groups.
To target larger companies, we’re making more use of LinkedIn. This has led to contacts with Huddersfield Town, Huddersfield Giants and John Smith Stadium.
We’re also on Twitter too.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your business right now?
It’s the growth of our business and keeping on top of it.
There’s lots of work to manage the business side. From changes to the company structure to VAT registration. These aren’t the parts of a business I enjoy but they’re essential.
Who has inspired you the most in your business life and in what way?
I’m going to be controversial with this one!
I don’t think there is any one person who’s inspired me. As someone who’s stubborn, I solve my own problems without drawing on others to inspire me.
My skills and passions go hand in hand. I’m self-motivated, so I learn how to fix things or come up with a new way to do it.
I love a challenge – that’s what motivates me! I get a real buzz when I find a new way to solve problems with fewer negative side effects.
For example, last week I helped a web designer with his laptop. He was having problems logging in. The normal solution would be to uninstall his software and reinstall again. But I came up with a simple solution to avoid that headache.
Also when I fixed Xboxes I found how to solve one problem with a penny and some black tape!
Where do you see your business in five years time?
I want to continue to help our clients with our flexible service.
Although technology constantly changes the underlying principles are still the same.
For example, mobile phones have undergone a dramatic evolution. But while the widgets have changed the basics are still the same.
How do you spend your relaxation or downtime?
Well, I’ve always enjoyed computer games and consoles but now I get to play them with my sons. At the weekend it was the new Mario Kart Game.
My 8 year old is keen on Minecraft and Roblox at the moment. I don’t know whether they’ll follow in my footsteps. However, as long as they’re happy that’s the important thing!