For smartphone and tablet users, a broken screen is a major source of frustration and a considerable expense. Yet for one company, it's become a goldmine.
Since it was founded in 2010, iCracked has been growing by leaps and bounds in the niche market for smartphone repairs. The startup, which offers mobile device repair and trade-in services, is now seeing breakneck growth.
Founded by high school friends AJ Forsythe and Anthony Martin, iCracked recently ranked 22nd on Inc. magazine's list of fastest-growing privately held companies, which the publication said has grown over 10,000 percent in the past three years, generating over $15 million in revenue in the process.
At that time, the startup had just over 600 technicians to perform its services throughout its coverage area. However, the CEO told CNBC in an interview that its technician headcount has grown exponentially — and is now more than 4,600. The company is aiming to have over 5,000 "iTechs" by the end of the calendar year, and to add 10,000 additional "iTechs" in 2016.
In a world where smartphone growth is projected to grow by 10 percent, according to IDC, that may not be such a tall order.
"Imagine if you live in a world where you never have to worry about your consumer electronics again, where anytime you need to insure them, sell them, have a new one delivered or have one repaired," iCracked CEO Forsythe told CNBC.
"I think the future is we're not actually a repair company.We're going to be a life cycle services company," Forsythe said.
The company recently opened offices in London and Berlin. Its ultimate ambition, Forsythe added, is to create a "global network of technicians. You press a button and someone magically is there to help you."
ITechs travel to meet consumers, and are capable of almost any smartphone repair, including broken screens, water damage and battery issues. In the last year, the company said there has been a large uptick in smartphone trade-ins, in which customers sell old model smartphones to iCracked in exchange for a loaded debit card equivalent to a given price quote.
The company also launched a protection plan as part of an advantage program just four months ago. For $7 a month, consumers can enroll in the program to protect their devices. With the insurance, enrollees are only charged $25 per repair, which covers both old and new devices.
Meanwhile, an international expansion is starting to bear fruit. According to Forsythe, iCracked now sees about 10 percent of its business abroad as compared to just a fraction of a percent 12 months ago. His expectation is that iCracked can eventually boost international revenues to between 20 and 30 percent of their overall business.
"I don't want us to stop growing until we can be in every city worldwide that we have demand in," the 27-year-old said. "When we decide to launch new international markets, we actually follow the demand there, localize our site and our services and then launch that market."
Despite all the success iCracked has had in the market, there's a chance the model might look a little different in the future.
"Long term we're trying to move to this model, where you never have to worry about your consumer electronics and we're always a click away," he said. "Short term, though, we need to capture as much market share and consumer mindshare as possible."