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

 
 
 
 

Business

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Dianne and Brianna Johnson
Dianne and Brianna Johnson
"We are committed to making our clients feel special by providing the concierge level service they deserve."

Full Profile >