A school dropout is an Apple doctor

He gets orders for MacBook repairs from all over India

A school dropout is an Apple doctor

Academic brilliance was not Indore man Harish Agarwal’s cup of tea. Dropping out of class VIII, arriving in Bengaluru ready to do even a waiter’s job, he looked set to be stuck in a modest, mobile-repair centre. But destiny pitchforked him to the very top.

The 30-year-old is today one of India’s exclusive breed of mechanics capable of repairing an Apple product!

Agarwal’s obsession with Apple products has today made him a millionaire, the master of a business with a Rs 3 crore turnover. His already upbeat customer base of 2,000 plus is on the cusp of a hyperboost.

For, the man who once stared into a hopeless future, is ready for an expansion drive that would put his footprint in Pune, Mumbai, Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Chennai and beyond!

But Agarwal wouldn’t forget those early days of struggle in a hurry. “I didn’t know English. Although I managed to get a networking administrator course in 2011, no one recommended me. Everyone wanted graduates,” he recalls. He could not go back to
Indore, where his father had lost his factory job. A small business the family started after much effort had failed.

A faint hope rose in the horizon when his emplo­yed brother in Bengaluru helped him get a job at a friend’s mobile service centre. But Agarwal showed his calibre when he ventured to repair laptops and desktops on the side. “That was in February 2012. The first month, we earned Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 1.5 lakh the next month, all without any investment.”

If there was one defining moment in Agarwal’s road to riches, it had to be a chance encounter with an Apple MacBook. “A neighbouring Apple mecha­nic brought one Macbook to our shop. I didn’t know anything about Apple then.

But I managed to disma­ntle it and repair it.” That opened the floodgates. Over the next few months, Agarwal would repair a slew of MacBooks, iPhones and iPads. The process had begun.

Three years ago, his passion for all things Apple made him set up a service centre in Koramangala, Bengaluru. Starting with an initial investment of Rs 2 lakh, he gradually acquired a range of high precision tools necessary to work with iPhone, iPad and MacBooks.

“A chip replacement machine cost me Rs 5 lakh. I invested another Rs 85,000 on an ultra-sonic cleaner machine and Rs1.5 lakh on a dent-removing tool. Then came a magnetic mat,” lists Agarwal.

But his business growth was obviously not a one-man initiative. Hand-picking talent and training them over the years, he currently employs 18 people, including 13 technicians. With plans afoot to expand to eight other centres across the country, Agarwal is now gearing up to recruit more people. “I am also getting orders for MacBook repairs from all over India.”

As Apple products entered India in a big way, Agarwal’s business grew. Yet, he had a mountain of a problem looming large: Apple had no replacement policy and getting spare parts was tough. Mounting repair orders and the prospect of making big bucks put Agarwal in a tricky situation. He eventually found a solution, novel enough to take his business to unprecedented highs.

So, how did he manage it? “I chose to use only 100 per cent original Apple parts for repair. The way out was to purchase Apple products in bulk from all over the world at a cheaper price, dismantle them and use the parts for replacement.

Most problems are linked to broken LCD panels, battery and logic board problems due to liquid damage,” he explains. For every MacBook purchased from a wholesaler, Agarwal gets a discount of about Rs 25,000 over the showroom price.

The device is then dismantled, and the Logic Board, LCD panel, keyboard panel, hard disc and charger given as replacements. He makes a net profit of about Rs 45,000 per product from the combined charges of these spare parts.  

His Apple obsession has helped Agarwal grab a piece of every new device launched in the market, the first day of the release. The immediate step is to dismantle it and see what is inside. “The iPhone-6 was launched in India on October 17, last year. I picked up six phones on the first day and dismantled them.”

Agarwal’s eyes are now set on the iWatch. “It was launched in the US on April 24. I expect a lot of interest for this product in India,” says he. Wearable gadgets are surely the next big thing for his business.

The message is clear. He would continue to stay with Apple. “Apple has been lucky for me. I will stick to it as long as there is Apple, because I believe no one can build the devices as professionally as this company,” Agarwal explains. No wonder, he spends hours trying to understand how the products are made, and invests time and money finding ways to dismantle and repair them.

Agarwal is also an Apple-certified Mac technician now, arguably the only one in the country. Keen to have many more of his calibre, he has proposed to start a course at the city’s Koramangala centre soon. “We, as a company, are now planning to have our own building for a training centre,” says he.

On the threshold of another expansion, Agarwal wonders whether all these would have been possible if he hadn’t dreamt big and wasn’t passionately inquisitive about all things mechanic.

 “As a child, I used to be so kicked about opening and dismantling electrical and mechanical devices, even the television set. In 2007, when the assembled PC we bought for a DTP centre posed a lot of problems, I began my learning of repairs. I didn’t know then that it would lead to this,” he says with justifiable pride.

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