Saturday, June 3, 2023

From repairing mobile phones to selling their secrets

Alejandro Costa remembers the neighborhood store he opened in Bormujos (Seville) in 2004. He would go to his neighbors to fix a computer or buy an ink cartridge, but the place also had a cybercafé where he could connect to the Internet for one euro. Restless, his business of counter jumping led him to look for companies in the city to serve him. Later he would do it in Seville, in Madrid and finally at the international level. That store closed in 2008, but by then Costa had already formed CyG IT Solutions with his brother José Ángel and friend Ricardo González, which today has become a large technology services network in Europe. In January it changed name to Exita B Circular to highlight its new model: selling its own knowledge and technology, a business based on its ability to accumulate millions of data on repairs. The company, which has 140 employees and 2,000 technicians across Spain, billed 22 million in 2021 and is expected to reach 25 this year.

That small establishment in Bormujos is now a huge warehouse in Bolulos de la Mitación, also in Seville, which serves as a technical hospital. This is the service they gave to the user of the store and later to the companies, which helped them to certify themselves as official service of companies such as Toshiba (Dynabook), Asus, MSI, Lenovo, Samsung or LG. They are now present in 60 countries and work for the Community of Madrid, Inditex, Mercadona, Correos, FCC or Ferrovial. “We do maintenance and we also repair any equipment, as long as a truck doesn’t run over it,” jokes Costa, explaining that they reuse many components of theoretically useless equipment. do and if a part is missing, they manufacture it. They recover an average of 500,000 devices each year. At the same time, the responsible people of the company thought that it could have a future. Why not harness that data to generate more knowledge?

The answer was called Aetna, a system with over a hundred algorithms that diagnose each device. Artificial intelligence identifies what’s wrong with each device, what’s the biggest problem with the model or what region it comes from. “We continue to repair, it’s our business, but now we also commercialize that knowledge so that companies like ours can easily repair things they’ve never repaired before”, he adds. “Now we sew for ourselves, but we also sew for the street,” said the businessman. Doesn’t this move mean giving more space to the competition? Sevillian doesn’t believe: “If we really want to be sustainable and have a better planet, we have to generate a local economy. We propose that other people can fix devices locally with our technology.” If a computer breaks down in Pontevedra and you have to ship it to Seville, no matter how much we fix it and extend its life, that round trip already makes it unstable. and infrastructure growth is slow and expensive, but exporting what makes us different”, emphasizes the company’s executive director and founder. It aspires to reach one million devices recovered per year—thus accumulating more data is doing—in the new 10,000 square meter facility they are building in Bolulos de la Mitación, which is expected to be ready in 2023 after an investment of two million.

Extending the life expectancy of devices is one of the cornerstones of Exxita Be Circular, which has Telefónica as a minority partner. Today they work with mobile phones, tablets, laptops, TVs or printers, but tomorrow they will work with industrial equipment, medical equipment, scooters or any other electronic device. “Extending the life of sanitary equipment, for example, could have a great social impact,” insists the businessman, who has already signed agreements with several companies in the third sector – his technology is far from anyone’s. helps, whether they have the knowledge in the area or not, to reclaim equipment—and also for industries that begin to fold their linear manufacturing. Another key to this is the Green Tech Passport. A system that allows to know the traceability of any equipment – from its manufacture to its decomposition as waste, to each service or repair it undergoes – and which, in Costa’s words, works like a car service book But in blockchain technology. It has plans to acquire smaller technology companies which will allow Exita to accelerate its growth. “This sector is very demanding and they will quickly replace you. You have to be attentive “, concluded the Andalusian.

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