How long does it take to build an empire? Or, in this case, a kingdom? For businessman Wissam Mohamed Atie, 35, known as the ‘King of the iPhone’, it took 15 years – and three bankruptcies. He even tried to sell jeans.
The success came even with the technical assistance dedicated to Apple. From a tiny box in Santa Ifigênia, opened in 2013, it expanded to a headquarter that remains in the neighborhood, a branch in Itaim Bibi and a kiosk at the Mega Polo mall in Brás. In total, it coordinates 50 employees.
If the story seems like a fairy tale, there was a “godfather fado”: publicist Caio Rossoni. In 2016, he arrived for assistance with an iPhone that would no longer charge. Atie found the repair so simple that he didn’t even charge.
Shocked, Caio decided to tell the story on Facebook. In just a few days, the post had more than 70,000 shares. The result: the number of customers at Atie’s shop jumped from 10 a day to 150.
With his typical calm and serenity, Atie sums it up: “A happy customer is a soldier wearing your company’s armor.”
know how to sell
Atie learned the value of good customer service on his first attempt as an entrepreneur: selling MP3 players. It was 2007, the height of music player success.
The competition in Santa Ifigênia was already strong. He sold a 500 MB model for R$ 75. But his neighbor, Chinese, offered a 1 GB model for R$ 50.
“The value of the product is what the market dictates. And in that I lost, because I didn’t have the capital to have a large stock”, he recalls.
But he had a differential: he always explained to the client how to download music, how to create folders, etc. – something his rival couldn’t.
“I’ve always liked technology, I’ve always been a nosy guy,” he says. His childhood was in his father’s electronics store, in Ciudad del Leste, Paraguay, when his family still lived in Foz do Iguaçu (PR).
“I thought it was bizarre that there were some guys with some stores that sold Nintendo 64, PlayStation, the latest Mortal Kombat, as if that was anything. The guy didn’t give a good explanation, he didn’t know how to encourage the customer to take the product. stuck in my head.”
In 2008 and 2009, Atie decided to compete in the car stereo market, which was hot in Santa Ifigênia. It worked, but lacked experience to manage the company.
“When you don’t know how to manage and you get it wrong, that’s a problem. But when you do well, it’s another problem. ‘Is it time to open another business or change cars? Or make a down payment on an apartment?’ At that time I broke,” she says.
He even missed the point and tried to get back up far away from technology: selling clothes and jeans, in Brás. He lacked product knowledge to seduce the customer and close the deal. In four months, he dropped out and tried to follow his father’s example, selling products from Paraguay. It didn’t work either.
In 2013, he returned to Santa Ifigênia, but with a very different scenario, with low traffic. He hired a friend, who was an electronics technician, and watching him fix phones rekindled that old passion.
“I ended up getting interested. I already knew how to configure, jailbreak [tipo de desbloqueio de iOS para apps não autorizados pela Apple]operator unlocking, those things”, he recalls.
At first, he also fixed Android, but ended up specializing in iPhone. “Apple doesn’t like your devices fixed, they want you to buy a new one,” says Atie. Still, he took a risk: he changed the name of the box to King of the iPhone.
The visionary prophecy began to come true.
April 25, 2016: Everything has changed
Caio Rossoni’s viral post worked better than any startup accelerator. Two days later, there was already a line arriving at the corner of the sidewalk.
Atie had no doubts: “I went out to buy umbrellas from street vendors so the crowd wouldn’t be in the sun. Everything to keep customers safe.”
Some time later, the same problem, another solution: the iPhone King had grown so much that the entrepreneur occupied the space of six stores at the back of Shopping 51. Customers were waiting up to two hours in intense heat. Atie started handing out ice cream – for free.
“The crowd went crazy. There were people who took pictures with two, three ice creams”, he recalls. “Brazilians are not used to this. A cone cost R$0.30 for me. How much does an hour of your sitting cost?”, he considers.
Because of the pandemic, the machine had to be taken down, but he has plans to bring something fun to customers soon – for now, it’s a secret.
This was not the only impact of Covid-19. Technical assistance remained open, as it is considered an essential service by the Government of São Paulo. But the damage to the economy was already done.
“The situation in the country is not good. You look everywhere and the movement is weak”, he evaluates.
Always him: the customer
For Atie, the path to recovery is the same as he has always practiced his whole life: customer focus. “Today, the market is inflamed because in any neighborhood it is easy to find technical assistance. But the customer who knows still comes looking for it and new ones end up arriving.”
“Our differential is that we have always studied the behavior of consumers because it has to do with what happens in the device”, he explains. An example? When Atie detected many curved iPhone 6 Plus, she understood that the problem was not in the cell phone, but in the owner’s pocket.
“The guy would put it in his back pocket and sit down. The butt is round, it bends the device. There’s no way”, he explains.
In fact, pocket is a terrible enemy for any device – especially jeans.
“The guy keeps his iPhone there. It goes into the charging dock furry. Then he goes to the bar. He leaves his phone on the table. It spills beer. Then it goes back in his pocket. More fur, more dust. And every time he puts the cable in, connection, pushes that further in. The connection decreases”, he summarizes.
Instead of charging $180 to replace the dock, Atie got used to simply picking up his tool and pulling out “a typhoon of dirt.”
“The client would look and say ‘but what did you do?’. I replied: ‘I cleaned it. I won’t charge anything, just speak well of me'”.
Caio Rossoni is here to prove that this marketing technique works. Is very.
And the new iPhone?
Currently, what assistance gets the most are customers with a broken screen and battery problems.
Regarding preventive maintenance, Atie advises avoiding contact with water, keeping the backup up to date and using only original cables and chargers or MFI, an acronym for “made for iPhone”. (Of course, in his store there are several options for sale).
Like other Apple fanatics, Atie is eyeing the launch of the next model, scheduled for September. But the interest is also professional: every time a new iPhone comes out, he and his team open the device to “dissect” the new structure and understand the technical ins and outs.
According to him, the brand’s novelties never let him down. But he has a certain wish or expectation: that the iPhone 14 will be more “repairable”. After all, Apple may not like to have its devices fixed, but he doesn’t intend to stop.