Startup Spotlight: UpgradeUSA

Jon Weisblatt, founder and CEO of Austin-based UpgradeUSA, recently sat down with me at Tech Ranch, where he has an office, to discuss his startup. UpgradeUSA has received a lot of press in recent months including a story by PandoDaily that ignited a bit of controversy in the comments section from readers concerned with the prices UpgradeUSA charges its customers. The Austin Business Journal and the Austin American Statesman have also written articles on the company, which launched last December. And even the Huffington Post mentioned the company in an article about establishing credit.
UpgradeUSA provides financing to consumers with bad credit or no credit to buy a laptop or tablet computer. By making timely monthly payments, the consumer can start to build a credit history since UpgradeUSA reports each payment to the three major credit bureaus. The company this week launched a special program for students going back to school who wish to buy a new or refurbished laptop computer from Dell, Apple, HP and others. The computers all come with a warranty and payments start at $55.

Q. What do you do?

A. We offer an online service where we help people build credit by leasing out laptop computers. We’re providing people who can’t pay for a laptop computer access to one.

Q. Who is your customer?

A. Our customers are across the board. We’ve got students, who have little to no credit, and people with good credit, who are on a budget, and people who have moved to the United States. We’ve got people who have filed bankruptcy, divorced or had some other kind of financial problem. Some of our competitors will approve anyone who can fog a mirror. We’re not that type of company.

Jon Weisblatt, Founder & CEO, UpgradeUSA

Q. What sets you apart from your competitors?

A. We’re online only. There are other companies that provide similar services to consumers. They are storefronts. We are focused on the computer business. Customers have demonstrated they are comfortable buying computers online. We’re only online which brings our costs down and we can offer PCs at lower prices. We are really focused on helping people establish credit and build credit. Most companies in this space don’t do that.

Q. Are you bootstrapped? Do you have VC funds or Angel investment?

A. We’re bootstrapped. I left Dell in 2008. I had a consulting business for three years. The last year of that business I focused on socking away money so I could start my own business.

Q. Why did you choose Austin?

A. I’m a native Texan. I’ve been (in Austin) since 1998. Dell moved me here from Silicon Valley. My wife worked at Dell too. We’ve got kids here. We love the community. Austin is a great place to live.

Q. What markets do you serve?

A. We’re in Texas, California, Florida and New York. We have plans to expand into additional states.

Q. What is your biggest accomplishment so far?

A. I’ll tell you what gives me the most satisfaction. I talk to just about every one of our customers. We have great customers. This feeling like we’re actively making a difference. It’s really genuine. We see it in their emails and we hear it in their voices.

Q. What’s your biggest mistake?

A. Very few companies are doing this online. We had to go build a lot of systems. We took pieces on the market and forced them to work together. We were going down the path of getting custom development done. Then we changed course. That set us back. This business doesn’t come in a box. We had to find a payment processor who could handle our unique needs of a lease to buy program.

Q. How does the program work?

A. Customers apply online. They get an approval email. Then they pick out the computer they want. They schedule their first payment. They have to lease the computer for a minimum term. It varies by state. Then they can choose to send it back or keep leasing it. At the end of 17 months, they own it. We report every payment to the three major credit bureaus. (Customers) who make consistent payments over time establish good credit. If they don’t make the payments, UpgradeUSA can remotely turn on a software program that locks the computer until they make payments again.

Q. How do you get the word out about the service?

A. Through Search Engine Optimization techniques, Google Adwords, email marketing and P.R.

Q. What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?

A. Getting the word out. The Internet is a big place. We’ve got a great solution for customers. Making sure they’re aware of it is a challenge. This isn’t Instagram. We have revenue. We provide a service to people who need it.

Q. How many employees do you have?

A. We’ve got three and we contract with Sundram, a local development and design firm.

Q. What other resources in Austin have you drawn on to help your startup?

A. The Hoover Academy. Gary Hoover has been a phenomenal resource. My wife was a manager at Dell in the consumer finance space. She’s helped a lot with site design and advertising campaigns. Tech Ranch provides us with a community of entrepreneurs and a private office with a door that locks. That’s a requirement if you’re processing credit.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

A. We’ll expand into other states. We’re actively looking for a seasoned sales person to complement our online efforts. We’re experimenting with offering tablet computers. We’re excited about the Microsoft Surface Tablet.

Q. What advice would you give to others wanting to do a startup?

A. The biggest piece of advice is to plan. It’s Ok to make a mistake and make a misjudgment. But you need to make a plan of where you want your business to be. Spend hours and hours and hours planning.

Q. What else is there that you would like to make a point of that I haven’t asked you about?

A. You didn’t ask a lot of the questions that I thought you would like have we talked to VCs? I have talked to VCs. They tell me our product isn’t sexy enough. If you like making money, then this is a sexy business. If you like helping people in the process, then this is a sexy business.

Q. Is there anything else I forgot?

A. You didn’t ask me how I came up with this idea. I’d been in the high tech business a little over 20 years in Silicon Valley, Austin and Washington, D.C. My family has a furniture and appliance business in Fort Worth. They know who to approve and who not to approve. I added a little sprinkle of technology to their business model. Taking Gary’s (Hoover) class helped me see that opportunity.

Comments

  1. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Many thanks, Plenty of information.

    viagra sex pictures discount viagra onlilne
    buy generic viagra
    best offer diet pill phentermine viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Really a good deal of excellent facts!

    can you take viagra everyday viagra wal-mart
    generic viagra 100mg
    viagra online cheap – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  3. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thanks a lot, Lots of forum posts.

    viagra ad email norton how long will viagra last
    viagra 100mg
    mark martin 1 18 viagra – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  4. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thank you! Helpful information!

    liquid viagra dauquiri recipe viagra dog
    buy viagra
    get online viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  5. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thanks! I like this!

    generic 500mg viagra viagra maximum dosage
    cheap viagra
    viagra cialis or levitra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  6. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You revealed this terrifically!

    online sale viagra viagra cialis espa ol
    buy viagra online
    samples viagra cialis – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  7. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Nicely put. Many thanks!

    viagra tablet cutters viagra real mail
    buy generic viagra
    injectable viagra – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  8. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    With thanks. Ample content!

    viva viagra theme song viagra t shirt
    viagra online
    viagra or 100mg – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  9. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Many thanks. I value it.

    online viagra uk generic viagra scam
    viagra for women
    viagra replacements – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  10. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Nicely put. Cheers!

    5 sildenafil viagra viagra without prescription scams
    generic viagra online
    buying viagra online in australia – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  11. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You explained it terrifically!

    viagra fuerteventura is there a usa generic viagra
    buy viagra
    can you mix viagra and phentermine – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  12. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually mentioned it terrifically.

    cialis comparison viagra what is maximum dosage of viagra
    viagra online
    viagra and 2 girls – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  13. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    This is nicely said! !

    buy viagra online in the uk preclinical testing of viagra
    buy viagra
    old viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  14. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wow tons of awesome facts!

    viagra in landzorote artic abdominale anurism and viagra
    viagra online
    floater eye problems and viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  15. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You explained this wonderfully.

    which viagra herb same effect as viagra
    viagra generic
    generic viagra forum – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  16. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually mentioned it terrifically!

    viagra uk cheap purchase buy i been using viagra everyday
    cheap viagra
    viagra voor vrouwen uit – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  17. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Beneficial posts. Thank you!

    snopes viagra light switch lawsuits viagra heart attacks
    generic viagra 100mg
    where buy viagra – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  18. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Lovely data, Many thanks!

    canada viagra viagra content
    viagra for sale uk
    diary of a viagra housewife – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  19. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Truly a lot of wonderful material!

    cheap viagra profisional line only uk viagra levitra increase penis size
    buy generic viagra
    viagra and 2 girls – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  20. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thanks, Lots of material.

    viagra hemmeroids viagra and cannabis
    generic viagra
    dr fox viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  21. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Amazing lots of superb knowledge!

    compare levitra and viagra effects make viagra
    viagra 100mg
    viagra corporate citizenship – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  22. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Really quite a lot of good facts!

    viagra golf viagra hardon
    buy generic viagra
    adult sites charles linskaill find viagra – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  23. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Amazing all kinds of useful info.

    viagra 50mg tablet cost cvs pulmonary hypertension use of viagra
    generic viagra 100mg
    viagra availability – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  24. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You stated it effectively.

    viagra t-shirt viagra and no perscription and us
    buy generic viagra
    viagra for kids – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  25. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Many thanks. Great information!

    soft viagra tabs las vegas kamagra viagra about
    buy viagra
    viagra official site spam tracking – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  26. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    With thanks. A lot of information!

    can viagra make me last longer viagra in your 20s
    buy generic viagra
    india drugs viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  27. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Nicely put, Cheers.

    how is viagra used for women content in viagra
    buy generic viagra
    can you take alcohol with viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  28. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Kudos. Very good information!

    teenager taking viagra substitute viagra
    buy generic viagra
    generic viagra online uk – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  29. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Great content. Many thanks!

    which tesco are selling viagra high off viagra
    viagra for sale uk
    what’s viagra for – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  30. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Nicely put, Thanks a lot!

    does viagra make you last longer prostate cancer and viagra
    generic viagra online
    printable free viagra certificate – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  31. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Helpful content. Regards!

    sites computer viagra find edinburgh free viagra and alternatives
    viagra for women
    prescription for ordering viagra – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  32. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Beneficial info. Thank you.

    honolulu viagra viagra sale canada
    generic viagra online
    multiple orgasms viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  33. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Very good material. Thanks.

    veterinary viagra canadas viagra commercial
    viagra without a doctor prescription
    women viagra order – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  34. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Reliable information. Appreciate it!

    caverta veega generic viagra will viagra give you an erection
    buy generic viagra
    viagra medicare uk – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  35. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Amazing quite a lot of awesome info.

    online generic viagra india viagra website reveiws
    cheap viagra
    india generic viagra on line sales – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  36. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Seriously many of helpful data.

    ntural viagra viagra direction
    viagra generic
    viagra bestellen – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  37. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually said that really well!

    spray nasal viagra using viagra on house plants
    viagra pills
    viagra stories escort – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  38. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Incredible loads of fantastic info.

    viagra versus levetra viagra’s other uses
    viagra for women
    bingo buy game online viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  39. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Terrific tips. Many thanks!

    lorazepam viagra viagra and stroke
    generic viagra 100mg
    viagra physor – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  40. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Kudos! I appreciate this!

    viagra and neurological side effects help buying viagra
    viagra without a doctor prescription
    personalized gifts cheap viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  41. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Awesome advice. Regards.

    viagra to keep hard for hours viagra jelly
    viagra for women
    viagra 3 – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  42. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    This is nicely expressed. !

    levitra cialis viagra price viagra and toporl
    viagra without a doctor prescription
    viagra online india – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  43. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You definitely made the point.

    viagra herb diabetes and viagra
    buy viagra
    viagra high blood presure – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  44. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Nicely put. Thanks!

    viagra versus nasal spray dicks on viagra
    cheap viagra
    viagra treats teenren s lethal hypertension – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  45. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thank you. I like it.

    mix regalis and viagra cheapest viagra in the world
    cheap viagra
    snopes viagra light switch – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  46. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually mentioned it really well!

    viagra and cialis combined viagra interaction with blood pressure medicine
    generic viagra
    subaction showcomments viagra archive blog – https://genericviagramsl.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  47. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually said that wonderfully!

    viagra drug company us discount viagra
    buy viagra online
    viagra effects on healthy males – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  48. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Nicely put, Kudos.

    picture of viagras home office viagra in mexico cabos san lucas
    viagra for sale uk
    what happens when you take viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  49. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Awesome data. Thanks!

    is cialis as good as viagra viagra cheap generic
    buy viagra
    viagra for weman – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  50. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thanks! Numerous forum posts.

    viagra sunday dispatch viagra hard-on
    generic viagra online
    smoking pot and taking viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  51. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Lovely content. Kudos!

    edinburgh tid viagra search charles linskaill prescription for viagra in china
    generic viagra online
    quick forum readtopic viagra none generated – https://genericviagrantx.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

  52. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thanks! Numerous facts.

    vitrectomy and viagra free viagra samples before buying
    viagra generic
    when viagra and levitra doesn’t work – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    KeithChugh
    Richardsnome
    ErnestoCof

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.