An appearance on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den kickstarted OF Oliver Murphy (fhc 06-11) in his quest to come to the aid of the 7.5 million people in the UK who are walking around with a broken mobile phone.
‘People hate being without their smartphones,’ says Oliver Murphy, founder of mobile smartphone repair service WeFix. ‘For many, life virtually grinds to a halt when their device is compromised in some way – it’s as if they’re unable to function properly!’
It was exactly the modern reliance on smartphones and annoyance when something goes wrong that attracted the interest of interior design guru and entrepreneur extraordinaire Kelly Hoppen MBE when Oliver made a foray into the BBC’s Dragon’s Den in 2013, aged just 20.
His pitch was for the pre-curser to WeFix, a ground-breaking new product called Reviveaphone which could be used to repair water-damaged mobile phones.
‘I wasn’t at all confident in securing any investment when I went into the Den,’ Oliver remembers. ‘It was incredibly nerve-racking and judging the Dragons’ responses was difficult. Kelly Hoppen seemed enthusiastic about my pitch from the outset, so I was especially happy when she expressed her interest.’
Kelly proved to be a great fit. ‘Her enthusiasm and positivity are highly-infectious,’ says Oliver. ‘She has a great network of retail contacts, which was just what I needed to get the Reviveaphone product into high street stores and, on top of this, her experience of PR helped gain some great press coverage in the early days.’
With Kelly’s input, Reviveaphone was developed and was soon being sold around the world. Buoyed by this success, Oliver devised another new product, this time a water repelling spray for smartphones, designed to prevent water damage. However, the big tech firms were also working on a similar solution and, when water-resistant smartphones hit the market, Oliver diverted his attention to a new smartphone repair service under the Reviveaphone banner, which promised to fix phones sent by customers to a workshop by post.
‘This worked well,’ says Oliver, ‘but my aim was for a repair service that would come to you, wherever you were, for maximum convenience.’
A chance encounter with a tech entrepreneur at an awards presentation in 2017 gave Oliver the investment he needed to get his smartphone repair service out on the road and, with a name change to WeFix, the word quickly spread. Today 90% of the population is served by Wefix technicians, who are out and about and ready to be called to homes, offices and workplaces, aiming to fix any smartphone glitch within 45 minutes.
‘For most people that’s an acceptable amount of time,’ says Oliver. ‘We have 50 mobile workshops on the road at the moment, but that will double by the end of this year.’
A big bonus for customers is that WeFix is the UK’s only manufacturer-approved mobile smartphone repairer and has an exclusive partnership with Samsung so that all Galaxy, Tab and Note repairs are guaranteed, with the manufacturer’s warranty unaffected. Oliver is also building relationships with network providers O2, EE and Vodafone.
‘Our ultimate aim is to become the “go to” brand for mobile smartphone and tablet repairs in the UK,’ says Oliver. The toughest nut still to crack is London, however. ‘Issues of parking, traffic density and the congestion charge make it a challenge,’ says Oliver. ‘But there are more than 16 million people in London, which presents a massive opportunity for the business.’~
Like all successful entrepreneurs, Oliver has developed techniques for dealing with obstacles – many of which he learnt while a student at Felsted.
‘Starting and running a business is incredibly hard work, but school really helped me to prepare,’ he says. ‘I developed skills that have proved invaluable since, such as team-building, leadership and innovation, through being involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I achieved the Gold Award, which I was very proud of. Design and Technology lessons were particularly helpful too – product design really made my creative mind work and this helped me to come up with my first business idea, for Reviveaphone.
By taking part in all the activities and opportunities on offer at Felsted I discovered that I had the determination to succeed and the confidence to get through the hard times.’
Oliver still lives in Essex and is close to his family – Sam, one of his two brothers and also an OF, now works alongside Oliver at WeFix, as Operations Director.
‘Something else I learnt at Felsted is the value of relationships,’ he says. ‘Business is all about building relationships after all.’