SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Los Angeles-based startup HelloTech and rival in-home tech support company Geekatoo on Monday said they had merged, in a sign of consolidation in the hotly competitive on-demand sector.
HelloTech will combine its network of about 150 college students who provide on-demand tech repair to Southern California consumers with Geekatoo’s U.S. network of about 5,000 technicians, the companies said in a joint statement.
The merger connects HelloTech with Geekatoo’s national market and provides Geekatoo with more access to venture capital funding, HelloTech co-founder Richard Wolpert said in an interview.
HelloTech, which launched about a year ago, has raised $17 million from investors, while 5-year-old Geekatoo has raised close to $3 million.
“You could either use capital to expand really quickly or you could merge with a company like Geekatoo that had already spent money doing this,” said Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, which backed HelloTech.
The new company keeps the HelloTech name and will be led by Wolpert. He said the deal was a stock transaction, rather than a cash payment, but declined to provide further details.
Both companies dispatch in-home tech support within hours of a request to fix a wonky printer, install a new TV or troubleshoot WiFi problems, among other services.
HelloTech hit a few bumps last year after launching, with some negative customer feedback that its workforce of predominantly college students was unprofessional.
Wolpert said the company has worked out the glitches. HelloTech has a five-star rating on customer review site Yelp.
Geekatoo Executive Chairman Christian Shelton saw demand for tech services rising as more people add internet-connected devices - such as the smart thermostat Nest or WiFi camera Dropcam - to their homes.
The U.S. tech support industry makes about $30 billion in annual revenue, according to research by Parks Associates, a consulting firm.
“The opportunity is massive,” Wolpert said.
The company’s main competition is Geek Squad, a tech support service founded in 1994 and owned by big-box retailer Best Buy.
HelloTech targets baby boomers with disposable income to spend on new gadgets and someone to help get them up and running.
“There is enormous wealth in the baby boomer generation,” Suster said, and their “digital lives are becoming increasingly complicated.”
Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Andrew Hay
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