CSUN Business Student Alan Campos recognized as Young Entrepreneur of the Year by L.A. Chamber of Commerce
Alan Campos hardly thought that when his iPhone broke four years ago that it would launch a career opportunity. All he could think about was finding a way to avoid paying someone to fix his phone, or worse – have to buy a new one.
A student at College of the Canyons at the time, Campos decided to research instructional videos on how to fix his phone, ordered the parts and went to work. He took his phone apart and put it back together. It worked like new, and that gave him a thought.
“I got the idea, ‘I’m not the only one with this problem. If I target this and market it right, we’ll see what happens,’” Campos said.
Not long after, he was referred to someone whose phone was malfunctioning. Campos’ fix-it shop was his bedroom. Before long, he graduated to his parents’ garage, and he would eventually have a line of customers sitting in his de facto lobby as he repaired their phones.
“They were calling me up, waiting, it was chaos,” Campos recalled. “It really took off from being practical. Something was broken, I fixed it. That spawned the idea, maybe this could turn into a service.”
Did it ever. He opened SCV iRepair in his native Santa Clarita Valley. When Campos enrolled at California State University, Northridge less than two years ago, he opened a second store just a block from campus named Northridge iRepair. His reasoning was sound: College students are major users of their smartphones, and with that would come a steady stream of customers to his new venture.
Business is booming at both locations. And just like when he was working in his parents’ garage, customers wait as their phones are repaired, often within a half hour. Campos has childhood friends working with him, yet he does a fair amount of work himself.
“As long as you provide a good service and you’re honest with your customers, business will keep on growing,” Campos said. “That’s the only reason I’ve been able to grow and expand, by offering good service and fast. People want to come in and out. They don’t want to leave their phones for a day. They’re always on the move.”
His good idea and successful business venture recently earned Campos recognition by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2014 Small Business Awards & Conference. The CSUN Alumni Association had nominated Campos for the award.
It’s a great honor for the 24-year-old CSUN business major, who is also fulfilling a promise he made to his mother, Blanca. While some might have left school to concentrate on work after experiencing early success, Campos is still very much a student and is on target to graduate after the fall semester. He’s doing so because he made the pact with his mother that he would become the first member of his family to earn a college degree.
Campos is already doing his part to help others reach their dreams. A little more than a year ago he was in a meeting with the Latino Business Association when he was inspired by a talk urging the young people to give back. Campos already had volunteered at a local food bank and collected cellphones for U.S. soldiers stationed throughout the world, but it was in hearing about helping future generations of college students that this young entrepreneur decided to fund a scholarship. The Alan Campos Dream Big Scholarship is awarded yearly to deserving CSUN students and has the rare distinction of being funded by a current student.
“I always like to read and see what big-time businesspeople do,” Campos said. “And they always end up giving away money after they’ve created this big company. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, they all started giving back down the road. I want to do my part by helping out others as much as possible … You really don’t hear every day about a student giving back. I’m just trying to be myself and not try to follow in anyone’s footsteps.”
To think that a business that started with a broken smartphone is now helping CSUN students of the future – and doing so within a span of just a few years – is already quite the accomplishment. Campos would like to see if these scholarships could one day lead to the recipients continuing a giving cycle.
“I hope that they get that sense of, I got helped – let me help someone else one day,” Campos said. “I hope that reaction starts when they do receive that award. I’ve gotten a lot of help from people, so I feel a sense that I have to help others. I hope when they do receive that scholarship that it starts a reaction.
“I hope other students see what I’ve done and they give back to the school in some way. It would be great if they could get that sense of giving back as a student. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money. We have thousands of students. Just a little bit can go a long way.”