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Startups are making gadget care easier for everyone

Gadget care: Startup edition

There’s no dearth of gadget owners in our country. There might have been one, about a decade or so ago, but look anywhere today and you’ll find people with at least a smartphone. In fact, according to a study by US-based media agency Zenith, India is all set to have 530 million smartphone users in 2018 – that is almost 40% of the country’s population. Yet, when it comes to taking care of our gadgets, most of us give it an occasional wipe and for certain categories, put it into a protective enclosure. When one gets broken or stops working, we submit them to the absolute mercy of a service centre or a local repair shop – often with no means to track the status of the operation. If that fails, we are left with no alternative but to shed a few heartfelt tears and shell out for a new piece. Don’t even get us started about theft.

So why are we talking about everything that could go wrong with your gadgets? That’s because, in recent years, a series of startups have started offering services that aim to solve exactly this set of problems in a number of ways. Also, while there are startups that offer dedicated gadget repair services, there are some that take it one step further and insure your device altogether.

Is it broken? We fix it

The smartphone repair market has been known to be largely offline and disorganised in our country. Apart from the dedicated service centres for the brand of smartphone that you own, there’s no single standard that governs smartphone repair outlets, big or small. You are highly likely to get two completely different reports and price quotes in two unique stores for the same problem. There are quite a few startups trying to solve this problem.

JustLikeNew.in aims to become the Flipkart of smartphone repair

JustLikeNew is perhaps the name most well known in this area. Started back in 2014, they’ve repaired more than 90,000 smartphones since inception, offering upfront rates depending on the model you chose. Pick-up and drop services, along with a replacement smartphone, are not really rare in this segment. JustLikeNew specifically has partnerships with a number of smartphone parts manufacturers as well as smartphone brands themselves to facilitate better rates and faster repair times. Startups like Gadgetwood, SSPAdvantage and BigFix are offering similar services. Essentially, for almost all of these startups, you sign up on their platforms, choose your device, select a repair package and schedule a pickup. Some startups like JustLikeNew also have dedicated offline stores you can walk into for a repair.

Another segment where these startups are trying to make headway is the sale of refurbished gadgets. Once you decide that the damage to your phone is too extensive and you’d like to go for a new device, these startups are willing to buy the device off you, repair it and sell it as a refurbished unit – which is a win-win situation as compared to letting a broken device be stashed away somewhere in your home.

For a startup like JustLikeNew and SSPAdvantage, the next frontier would be corporate repair agreements. A number of major companies offer devices to their employees in bulk, and hence, require a large volume of standardised, quick, easy to track repair services – which these startups can provide. When it comes to the individual, though, even a smooth repair process can feel like a pinch if it happens too frequently. If you’re tired of paying up each and every time your device gets damaged or breaks, there’s something else you can do to avoid that – insure it.

Gadget insurance

The insurance sector in India is currently in a state of disruption, thanks to a number of insurtech startups. These startups are digitising a previously 90%-offline driven sector and bringing it online. Along with that, they are offering policies that are better aimed at the modern millennial with purchasing power. Which brings us to gadget insurance.

How gadget insurance works (Courtesy: Acko)

While repair startups are speeding up the repair process, insurance startups are offering agreements that remove the need for you to pay up each time something goes wrong with your device. Take Acko, for instance. When you’re purchasing a new smartphone on Amazon, you might notice the option to add an All-Round Mobile Protection Pack for the device that covers a lot, from cracked screens, liquid damage, free pick-up and drop for in-warranty repairs and more. What’s more, in certain cities, for every day over the guaranteed 7 days it takes to repair the device, you get Amazon vouchers worth Rs. 500. And that’s just one example.

Unique Insurance policies you can buy in India:
Some of the startups that offer to insure your gadgets also offer some unique insurance policies in India:
>Cab ride insurance (Acko on Ola) – If you’ve taken cab rides on Ola recently, you might have noticed an option to secure your ride with ride insurance. These go from Rs.1 for a normal ride to Rs.10 for a rental ride and more and cover a number of things like hospitalisation, delays, loss of baggage etc.
>Fitness insurance (Toffee) – Specialising in bite-sized insurance backed by established providers, Toffee offers a fitness insurance for any injuries incurred due to running, cycling, gyming & more. It covers hospitalisation, ambulance charges and more.
>Jewellery Insurance (Digit) – No, that’s not us. Go Digit General Insurance allows you to insure your bling against theft, damage and is valid on losses incurred worldwide.

These options are not limited to smartphones. There are startups like Koverup that aim to cover a wider spectrum of gadgets. This Pune based startup, among other options, aims to cover more than just your smartphone. Although the product is still not live, their comprehensive gadget insurance options also aim to cover tablets, laptops, cameras and smartwatches.

Sometimes, your gadgets are insured as a part of other policies that you might have availed. Home insurance often covers damage due to fire, flooding and other increasingly unavoidable circumstances like storms and is applicable to your electronic appliances and gadgets as well. Another way of insuring your gadget would be to take out travel insurance for when you’re travelling. Providers like Toffee offer easy to avail insurance policies like Travel Insurance, Home Renter Insurance and Home Owner Insurance which cover damages to your gadgets and appliances as well. These policies generally cover loss or damage to belongings and should be good for your smartphone and laptop, but always read the fine print before opting for a particular policy.

Going forward

Startups like Go Digit (again, not us) can already remotely check your phone for basic diagnostics, but the future of gadget care lies beyond that. Right now, this segment in the world of technology could practically go anywhere. While most devices, especially smartphones, aren’t exactly built to be durable, there could be newer, damage resistant materials being used in the future – some that can even repair themselves! On the other hand, gadget usage isn’t set to go down any time soon – people are buying gadgets, even high-end ones, increasingly in our country. So the demand for a more accessible, organised and visible way to get your gadgets repaired and insured isn’t going away any time soon. If you are starting to feel that this push will eventually hurt local smartphone repair shops and small-scale entrepreneurs and their employees, then you’d be wrong. Most of these startups work with a network of local shops that offer repair services at a fixed, reasonable rate in lieu of guaranteed business. So, essentially, there are a number of ways to take care of your gadgets than cleaning them occasionally or slapping a case onto them. The question is, how much do you really care about them?

Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee

A former tech-support desk jockey, you can find this individual delving deep into all things tech, fiction and food. Calling his sense of humour merely terrible would be a much better joke than what he usually makes.