Crista Switzer remembers her possessive reaction when a co-worker said he might start a business helping older people with technology.
“I was like, ‘No, that’s mine!’”
And so it is. Switzer opened abcd TECH a little over a year ago. Although she’ll help clients of any age, her focus is serving older people flummoxed by cell phones, computers, digital televisions and other technology that wasn’t around when they were growing up. She tries to do it “in a friendly format so that people don’t feel overwhelmed or like they’re being spoken down to, which I feel has been a problem in the IT business in general.”
Switzer has worked in some form of information technology support for two decades – first at Protection One, then at Cox Communications.
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“I had a knack for calmly walking people through things. I helped 80-year-olds walk through TV inputs and understand what they’re doing.”
Switzer earned a degree in management information systems from Newman University and was thinking about working as a programmer or application developer when the conversation that led to her one-woman business happened.
“Two days later, I decided to completely change” career paths, Switzer said, adding that she’s mostly relied on referrals from friends and clients for business.
One client was a woman who had recently become secretary of a nonprofit organization’s board. “I helped her go from being completely terrified of sending notes out (via email) to just a complete turnaround,” Switzer said. “She sent me a Christmas card that said, ‘You should add therapist to your title.’”
Switzer has helped clients set up wireless routers and printers, update their computers, fix viruses, install parental controls, engage in social media or just learn how to play games on their phones. Switzer said it’s a misconception, by the way, that older people can’t master technological tasks.
“As soon as they start utilizing it, they adapt as quickly – if not faster – than younger people do.”
One of her favorite parts of the job, she said, is learning from her clients.
“I work with people that have done all kinds of amazing things in their lives. They’re just not that great with computers. I’m not great at baking bread either.”
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Owner: Crista Switzer