By Leslie Yager
Two years ago Travis Sluss trusted his gut and moved MacInspires from a tiny storefront in Byram to a spot at the top of Greenwich Avenue, quadrupling square footage and gaining coveted classroom space.
It was a big leap at the time, but Sluss, who had previously lived and worked on the Avenue, recognized the space and location as ideal.
Four Legs Remain Steady
The MacInspires team has also expanded. Continuing the mission to inspire, Sluss said, “We get a huge kick out of seeing customers learn and create things they didn’t think they were capable of.”
Expanding education offerings to “tours” and camps, they’ve remained true to the original four “legs” of the operation: Repair, Consulting, Retail and Education.
1. Fast Repairs, No Charge for Diagnosis, No Surprises in the Invoice
Stroll inside MacInspires on any given day and you’re likely to find a technician fixing a customer’s broken iPhone while they wait. The iPhone fix, which typically takes just 20 minutes is a lifesaver. Every diagnosis is free unless it requires a technician to open up a computer.
Specific repair prices are posted and broken down by device right on MacInspires’ website. Customers have the option of dropping off their broken device or mailing it to MacInspires.
2. Consulting and House Calls
Since moving to Greenwich Ave, staff has grown to ten, of which four ar managers including Sluss, education director Lance Pendleton and two others. The crew’s expertise ranges from networking, to education and repairs. On any given day, staff visit at least one business and one home.
And, since many Greenwich homes have as many devices as businesses, MacInspires specializes in house calls. Whether to swap computers, set up family file-sharing or a wireless network, or even help customers get their technology organized, Sluss said his staff are ready to hit the road.
Their consulting and IT for businesses range from network and cloud storage, to backups, POS systems, email servers and graphic design. They are often asked to move business PCs over to Macs. Since success in business hinges on efficiency, Sluss said, “If spend less time on the computer, that gives more time to sell product and make more money.”
In two years at 53 Greenwich Ave, MacInspires has vastly expanded its offerings of accessories, headphones and cases. “We try them out, open them up and learn about them,” Sluss said before sharing a few popular items.
- OLLO 4-IN-1 Photo Lens The 4-in-1 for an iPhone is the size of a marble and, along with its protective pouch, fits right in your pocket. For people who like to use their iPhones for everything, these lenses slide right on a phone. The kit comes with fish-eye, wide-angle and two different macro-lenses.
- Real Bamboo Keyboard. Sluss said the keyboard made of 92% bamboo is 100% recyclable, prized for its attractiveness and uses a rechargeable battery.“People who use wireless keyboards know they have to keep changing batteries,” Sluss said. Since the bamboo keyboard has a built in lithium rechargeable battery, it’s good for the environment since it eliminates the need to dispose of spent batteries.
- Galileo. Pointing to a gadget with a smartphone dock and a little motor that spins the dock around, users can record a room in 360°. The price is $150 and the app for Galileo is free. At the touch of a button, the gadget loops around and creates a link that the user can put on a website or Facebook.
• OtterBox Phone Cases. “This makes your phone indestructible,” Sluss said of the modest looking iPhone case. “You can run it over with a truck and not hurt it. It’s military grade.”
Describing the $50 case, which he tossed across the store and onto the floor several times as “a good investment,” the case also comes in a waterproof version for $100.
4. Education: Your Tour Guide is Waiting
MacInspires offers Mac tours, iPhone/iPad tours, and “What is Coding? tours,” which are limited to four people. The 50-minute classes, offered several times a week, are perfect for learning the key features of a new device. At just $20 a person the “tours” offer a succinct “how-to” format. The “What is Coding” tour teaches the basics of coding to even the absolute novice.
MacInspires offers one-on-one custom classes are for everyone from beginners to pros. Customers just specify what they want to learn and MacInspires educators will teach with an interactive approach rather than with a traditional “presentation.” Project-based education can take place in the MacInspires classroom or in the home.
In addition to the custom classes, individuals select from a syllabus of popular classes from Social Media 101 to “How to Search the Internet Like a Pro.”
Maker Bot 3-D Printing MacInspires just replaced its 3-D printer with a new Maker Bot and offers 3-D printing classes. With increased focus on Youth Education aimed at the 10+ age group, Sluss described a recent “camp” for kids during school vacation where kids printed a range of 3-D objects including a phone case, a red bowl, a robot, an architect’s scale model house and even a puzzle akin to a Rubik’s cube, except that when the gear shaped pieces are arranged, they become a heart.
Other projects for children (besides 3D printing) are learning to code, electronics projects and Garage Band. Young people sign up for five-day vacation “camp” or once a week for five weeks as an enrichment activity. Sluss showed off a robot made by middle schoolers the previous week. “You plug it into the computer and program it,” Sluss said of the robot. “We added wireless capabilities so they can remotely control it. It got them hooked on coding.”
With summer right around the corner, Sluss is excited to see more middle schoolers and teens schedule camp sessions at MacInspires. Parents can simply call, agree on mutually convenient schedule and enroll any time over the summer.
That said, Sluss said he also gets a kick out of watching adults try out the 3-D printer. “It’s even more interesting when it is an adult who thinks they can’t. They say, ‘No, I’m not creative. I can’t draw.'” Sluss said of his customers who are delighted to design and print a range of objects. Sluss was excited about a new type of plastic that would minimize shrinkage. The “printer” outputs dabs of plastic that build up to form a three-dimensional object.