Nathan Ennis began envisioning ON App during the construction of his house, when a faulty microwave launched an agonizing three-month process to get it fixed.
“They gave a six-hour service window and didn’t show up,” he said. “When we rescheduled, he came but was not able to fix it during that appointment. They had to come back and do the whole process again.”
This experience showed him that while electronics and devices continue to advance, the technology servicing industry remains painfully archaic.
Household items are being connected in new ways, and some homeowners are choosing to install “smart home” systems, which enable them to operate items in their house virtually, via phone or tablet. That connectedness also means the home wireless network needs to be reliable and secure — it’s non-negotiable.
So when issues happen with their network or devices, homeowners need the problem solved as soon as possible. That’s what Nathan hopes to achieve with ON App, which he describes as an Uber for tech service: It’s a virtual marketplace that allows customers to find the closest technician to fix their computers, phones, printers, modems and more — on demand.
“You could get in line at the Apple Store or make an appointment with Geek Squad, wait a few hours or a few days, and the problem still may not be solved,” he said. “I wanted to build something that changes the way we think of service and puts the customer first.”
This customer-first mentality trickles down the technicians they hire, who are encouraged to put the customers’ needs before their own schedules. Their motto is to provide a service that is simple, fast and friendly.
The visioning process for the ON App started in late 2016. Since then, Nathan has worked with his brother, David, to build the app, establish marketing channels and grow their customer base.
The duo has years of experience in technology, finance and business operations. While they never imagined going into business together, Nathan’s idea sparked his brother’s excitement. Their complementary skills and connections allowed them to make significant progress quickly in the app’s development without taking on outside investment.
“We didn’t want to give away a ridiculous amount of ownership upfront to fast-track the project because we had all the skills to make it successful,” Ennis said. “We decided it was worth it to take the year and a half to build everything out. I did 95 percent of the coding myself and brought in a friend to help with the last 5 percent and try to break the system so it was ready for launch.”
Their target customer base consists of people in their late 30s and older who need the convenience of the ON App service but also have expendable income for technology troubleshooting. Their current users are predominantly women in the 40s.
They have already launched in Charlotte, and they have their sights set on Raleigh — David’s home base — as their next launch city. They expect to start actively marketing in the coming weeks.
Being an entrepreneur is a passion project for Nathan, who currently works a full-time job while launching ON App. After a full work day, he spends a couple hours with his family then works until 2 a.m. building and marketing the app.
As a result, Nathan says he hasn’t had a lot of time to get tapped into the Charlotte startup scene.
“I want this app to be all over the country, but it’s important that it started in Charlotte,” he said. “We’re in the early stages of our startup community with a lot of room to grow and expand.”
For others considering their own entrepreneurial journey, Nathan says to find something you’re passionate about and do your planning.
“Make sure you really want to do it because it’s not going to be easy,” he said. “As long as your perspective is aligned, nothing will hold you back from doing it. I know it will be three or four years of intense, tough work. But it will be worth it down the road when I have the freedom to work for myself.”
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This story was co-authored by David Stunja and Lexie Banks.