Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 6:41 pm | Fair 73º



CellTek Owner Gilbert Ortiz Finds Valuable Niche Repairing Broken Smartphones

Watch Noozhawk's video of this Goleta entrepreneur in action to see how — and how quickly — he dissembles an iPhone

It all started with a YouTube video.

After Gilbert Ortiz lost his assistant manager position at a print shop in Isla Vista, he noticed a trend on Craigslist and eBay.

Gilbert Ortiz, founder of CellTek at 5727 Hollister Ave. in Goleta, says it took him about two years to master how to disassemble an iPhone.
Gilbert Ortiz, founder of CellTek at 5727 Hollister Ave. in Goleta, says it took him about two years to master how to disassemble an iPhone. (Alex Kacik / Noozhawk photo)

“I saw people selling phones on eBay who were making about 50 bucks on each phone,” he said. “I would buy broken ones, Brian the iPhone Doctor would fix them for me and I would sell them.”

But Ortiz wanted to cut out the middleman, so he watched YouTube videos on how to deconstruct and assemble iPhones. It took him about two years to master, but now Ortiz says he can replace a broken iPhone screen in less than five minutes.

“Now I can tear them apart and put them back together in my sleep,” Ortiz said.

He said his family didn’t eat at their kitchen table for six months when Ortiz ran his business from his house. Instead, it was covered with glass, screws and plastic, and Ortiz’s phone was ringing nonstop.

“My wife was done with it,” Ortiz said. “My phone would be ringing and ringing, and my client I was doing web work for asked why I haven’t opened a store. He said he would put up the cash, and I thought about it for a month. Six months later, we hired our first employee.”

Ortiz moved his services from his kitchen table to a storefront at 5727 Hollister Ave. in Goleta. CellTek is a smartphone repair service that fixes phones as customers watch. It also sells phones and accessories, and buys back old phones. After eight months in operation, CellTek is expanding to Isla Vista.

“There are not many stores in the 805 who will do this,” Ortiz said. “We have a pretty unique niche.”

He said some customers have said they felt cheated by other stores that don’t repair phones with water damage or overcharge. Apple referred customers to CellTek if they had water-damaged phones, according to Ortiz.

“Many customers just want to sit here and talk with us. I usually have Netflix or Hulu playing,” he said. “The whole issue is trust. They feel they got screwed over by other stores because the customer service isn’t there.”

The 29-year-old entrepreneur took a course on soldering motherboards last year and got his certification. CellTek employee Francico Montanez said Ortiz is a good teacher.

“I used to do it for my friends, but I didn’t know details, I used to be that guy who used to break their phones,” Montanez said. “He taught me everything technical. He’s certified, so he knows what to do and what not to do.”

Ortiz has worked a myriad of jobs, often two or three at a time, including the hotel industry, printing and graphic design, but he says CellTek has provided him with an entirely new opportunity.

“There’s always a new challenge,” Ortiz said. “That’s what I always craved because working for a hotel or printing company, it’s all the same issues over and over. In here, it’s always something new.”

While the self-taught entrepreneur expected to expand at this rate over the next several years, Ortiz said he will be on to something new sooner rather than later.

“I’ll ride it as much as I can to its peak, sell the business and do something else,” he said.

Click here for more information about CellTek, or call 805.770.2533.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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