At first glance, CellSavers struck me as just another repair service. But they actually represent something far more interesting
Setting their sights on revolutionizing the painful process of getting your home electronics repaired, U.S.-based startup CellSavers announced today the close of their Series B funding round, bringing in $15 million in new financing. The round was led by Carmel Ventures, who joined with Series A investors Sequoia Capital Israel to help propel the company into their next stage of expansion.
Co-founded in 2015 by CEO Eyal Ronen and President Itai Hirsch, CellSavers offers consumers an easier way to get their phones and tablets repaired, quickly and conveniently.
This funding comes not long after receiving their Series A $3 million from a Sequoia-led round back in December, which according to Ronen, they used to establish the service in several core markets, including LA, NYC, and San Francisco, as well as to create the technological and operational infrastructure enabling the company’s growth. While some have called this financing a seed round, we are calling it an A round because it was used to grow their product rather than test it.
CellSavers currently has two offices in California, and an R&D center in Herzliya, Israel. With operations in the U.S. only for the time being, they serve 24 major cities including Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, and Dallas just to name a few.
Revolutionizing phone repair with machine learning
The only thing worse than being without a working phone is having to get it repaired. Finding a reliable shop, driving there, waiting to be seen, and having to leave your precious device in the hands of strangers for a day or more can be a nightmare scenario for most of us, like missing a limb.
Recognizing this frustration, Ronen and Hirsch decided to find a way to offer a more tailored service, taking the burden off of the customers.
They have developed a system that works with hundreds of technicians that can meet with clients at any location, including their home, office, gym, or cafe, and perform repairs on the spot. CellSavers claims that they can fix issues from screen replacements, battery issues, or other kinds of trouble shooting within 40 minutes or so, arriving within the hour.
On the front end, the consumer is able to order the repairs in three steps, selecting which device they have, describing the issue, and choosing the most convenient time to meet with the technician. They give a quote for how much the repair will cost, letting the user decide if it is worth it to go forward. Simple enough.
However it is on the backend that CellSavers tells Geektime that they really shine.
“Our core system is built around a smart matchmaking algorithm, which receives and analyzes two types of data points: real-time data and market long-term metadata,” says Ronen over email.
“The real-time data will include data points from the customer request and technicians, like: location of the customer, the specific problem, the device color and model, time and date of the requested repair,” he says, adding that, “The long term metadata is a machine learning process which constantly analyzes repair requests in different markets.”
From the technician side, they check the availability of each technician at the requested time, their current location, relevant skill, rating and availability of spare parts.
Based on all this information that is thrown into the system, Ronen says that the system uses machine learning to make an educated decision on which ‘Savers’ should be directed to a specific repair, finding two to three technicians that meet the fit for the job.
While they are not able to get their hands on original Apple and Samsung parts, they say that they are able to provide their technicians with OEM grade A parts that should be up to scratch.
Moving forward post funding, Ronen tells Geektime that they will use the injection of cash for purposes like supporting additional markets, devices and services. They also plan on “continuing the investment in our core technology platform, which enables real-time matchmaking between the technicians and the consumers and the logistics behind it.”
If things go as planned, they will look to expand to devices outside of mobile, sending technicians out for TV, gaming systems, and appliances like routers.
They tell Geektime that they will be making plenty of new hires, not only for their sales and operations teams in the U.S., but for their R&D center in Israel as well.
It is worth noting that CellSavers does not work as a lead generation outlet, just passing on customers to affiliated technicians. The cadre of 500 electronic repair professionals work under their auspices, having passed through background checks and other verifications on their qualifications. Additionally, the payment is processed through CellSavers’ app after the service is completed, cutting out room for abuse by potentially bad actors.
It may seem trivial, but I was happily surprised to see that they ask the visitor on the site about the color of their phone during the ordering process. It shows me that they have thought about the small details that can cause delays and frustration later, like if the technician shows up with the wrong color part.
At first glance, CellSavers struck me as just another repair service — think Sears customer service — that operated call centers and sent out repairmen. But they actually represent something far more interesting that is a part of the paradigm change in the customer service sector. By turning the work of finding the relevant technician over to machine learning, they are looking to do for electronics repairs what Uber and others have done for transportation. They are offering users increased transparency and ease of use, at what appear to be competitive prices.
Hopefully they will be able to maintain their standards as they continue to grow, bringing on lots of new technicians to meet the needs of their expansion. With backers like Sequoia and Carmel, a solid leadership team, and huge market potential, this should be a fun one to watch moving forward.