Fixing a hole


The consumer market is obsessed with the latest, flashiest and most innovative mobile phones. But that means manufacturers and high street chains arent interested in the grubby side of repairs and unlocking  and they charge the earth for accessories. One man saw a missed opportunity and seized his chance to carve a niche in mobile.

Turn On Your Mobile founder Mark Pollak has turned the traditional dealer business model on its head and founded a business that trades in repairs and cast-offs. The company buys, sells, fixes and unlocks mobile phones. The business is expected to turn over £1 million this year  only its third in operation.
Pollak hit on the idea after losing his mobile phone charger in 2003. He went along to buy a new one from The Carphone Warehouse, and balked when he was quoted £19.99. It was daylight robbery, he says. I thought I could do this cheaper.
Pollak checked out the local market as well, and was shocked to find that no stalls sold replacement phone chargers. He saw a glaring hole in the market, and stumped up £1,500 in rent to set up a shop.
I had no idea what I was doing, he says. All I knew was that a charger shouldnt cost £20. I took three days off work and found a wholesaler. It turned out that chargers cost 50p each, trade, and that the more you buy the cheaper they are. Thats how it all began.
Two-and-a-half years later, Pollak is now based in a store huddled on the corner of a busy shopping street in Wimbledon, south-west London. Its a real Aladdins cave and looks like few other phone shops.

Chalk and cheese
It is chalk and cheese, he says, comparing his own set-up with those of other dealers. There is no comparison between what I do and what the other retailers do  I dont sell contracts or new phones.
Since its humble start, Turn On Your Mobile has evolved into a company that not only sells chargers, but buys old mobile phones, fixes them, unlocks them and sells them on. It also stocks all manner of accessories, and has recently started to fix iPods.
The business is online too. It operates five web sites, covering all aspects of the repair, refurbishment and sales process.
We receive phones from the Recycle Your Mobile site and fix or unlock them if required, says Pollak. We have a repairs site and a spare parts site as well. And I can sell the handsets on again áa