Fourie Julie Alexander is the founder of iFix (now called Wefix), a company that services all Apple products and Samsung smartphones – one of the largest in Africa.
Fourie started iFix at the age of 20 and today, he owns stores in South Africa and around the world, while employing and empowering many people.
The story of this young entrepreneur who recently made the Forbes’ list of “30 most promising young entrepreneurs under 30” will inspire you to greatness.
Fourie Julie Alexander is a South African born in 1987. He grew up in Bellville near Cape Town, where he attended DF Malan high school and the University of Stellenbosch. He founded iFix while in school.
Starting his business career
Fourie enjoys travelling. In the course of his travels, he went to the United Kingdom and worked as a security guard in London. At London, he came across several people who helped to changed his mindset. They made him see that most times, entrepreneurship pays more than earning salaries. Fourie is an open minded individual and he keyed into this new way of thinking.
According to him, what he learnt from that journey to the UK transformed his life.
First, he saved up some money he earned from working as a security guard and hooked up with some artists and went on tours with them. As a result of his success in his tours, he gained the contract of planning events outside South Africa for artists like Chris Chameleon and Valiant Swart.
While still the event planner, he organized people as partners and created South Africa’s first digital media store which contained 500,000 tracks of South African artists. Apart from these, he also sold zippos to residents in Wilgenhof for beer money.
Turning adversity into opportunities
In 2006, Fourie’s ipod fell and broke down and on taking it to a specialist for repair, he was told it could not be fixed. He was disappointed as his ipod was like a companion to him and as a student, thinking of buying a new one was tasking, so he resorted to look for a solution.
He went online and searched for DIY (Do It Yourself) ipod repair and bought the damaged parts on eBay and while watching the video of how to fix ipods on YouTube, he fixed his ipod.
Not long, his friend’s ipod also broke and using the same video, he fixed his friend’s ipod. The news spread among his friends that he can repair ipod. So they brought their damaged ipods to him for repair. As time went on, he felt he could fix more ipods so he decided to place an advert on the Cape Times. On placing the advert, he got 15 -20 calls from people who needed the service. They usually dropped their phones at his folk’s place in Bellville then he would go get them and repair. All the repairs were done at his dormitory in Stellenbosch.
Fourie recognised a gap in the market and grabbed the opportunity. According to him, a lot of people needed that same problem to be solved so he started by helping them and eventually, turned it into a business. As he got more phones to service, he employed a friend in his school studying engineering.
In 2007, six months after his discovery, with R1,000 he used in buying parts, iFix was set up. When you do remarkably well in anything you do, most times you may not spend much efforts in advertisement, because people who feel the impact of your products or services will help to spread the word about your products. Satisfied clients referred their friends and others having issues with their Apple products and Samsung phones to iFix for repairs. According to Fourie, even though he spent hundreds of thousands of Rands in marketing, about 75% of his clients comes from words of mouth (i.e testimonies of clients he serviced their phones).
Within two years, Fourie opened branches in Johannesburg and Pretoria having employed 40 people to service 4,000 clients’ phones received in a month. Today, iFix has about 25 or more stores in South Africa and across the globe, thereby, making its way to get the latest flash t5 Africa’s market leader on smartphones repair. iFix repairs an average of 10,000 Apple and Samsung phones in a month with 300 employees, They also have a back-end system that shows a client’s experience to enable them see how the clients feels and to prevent a regrettable experience.
To stay on top of the market, Fourie tries to ensure their services are superior, and they provide coffee and beer bars and store containing latest accessories.
iFix has also expanded to include repair of Samsung and Huawei devices and developed it’s own line of accessories which Fourie described as “intra-entreprenueralism”. Such products includes stylish wooden casing for Apple and Samsung devices, Houdt (promoted more in Europe), i2, an affordable and safe solution for getting a “pre-loved” device, etc.
Reaching more frontiers
Fourie also observed that most people are been frustrated as a result of constant low batteries on their phones. Another opportunity!
Therefore, in 2011, he started RiCharge, a mobile charging station, providing a very much wanted service for people especially in rural Africa, focusing on solar based outdoor solution and in a year, he got clients from 12 countries across the globe including Nigeria and now exports to these countries.
He is also the founder of UFIX, a DIY Apple repair kit which gives opportunity to watch, learn and fix your Apple phones yourself like he did. He is also behind iSureFix innovation, a protection plan for Apple products.
Fourie is also an environmentalist. When asked of the impact of iFix, he mentioned one of the impacts to be “to reduce the effects of dumping spoilt phones on the environment and save cost of getting a new one. Of course, the dangers of dumping devices on the environment is very high only the environmentalists and environmental managers know this. He is also the founder of iCare charity initiative which also involves the planting of trees.
According to Fourie, the biggest challenge he experienced was being recognised for being an Apple and Samsung repairer and getting the right people. He got back up from the corporate world but he never gave up and kept doing what he was known for.
Believing in yourself will make you strong enough that nothing will stop you. You also need to know how to manage growth and success. You need to try to maintain the same culture, zeal, commitment and tempo you used in running a small company, even when the company gets bigger.
● Fourie owns one of Africa’s largest specialist repair service.
● He was listed among the “30 most promising young entrepreneurs under 30” in Africa in 2015 by Forbes and featured on the Mail and Guardian’s “Top 40 under 40 young South African entrepreneurs.
● He is behind the opening of the first online music download store containing 500,000 tracks of South African artists.
Words from Fourie Julie Alexander
- Do something for yourself, something you are passionate about. If you do a thing well, it brings a positive network effect.
- Flow with time. (Engage in recent technology).
- Invest in a good team. Team Up with people who share your vision and who are good at something you are not good at.
- Innovation and diversification of your products and services are crucial. Innovate constantly, the minute you stop, the business dies.
- Marketing, branding and packaging are keys in entrepreneurship. A brand is seen as an entity and entity comes with personality.
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